Summer is a great time of year as a horse owner – light mornings and evenings, long and leisurely hacks and a packed itinerary of shows. However, with the warmer weather there are a few things you need to be aware of when caring for your horse. Here’s a look at what to keep an eye on.
Make sure they have plenty of water
It’s essential that your horse has access to a plentiful and clean supply of water. They can become dehydrated in warm weather. Make sure your horse can easily reach their water supply and that it remains uncontaminated by insects, algae etc. If you’re out and about with your horse at show, consider taking along your own water and buckets so you don’t have to keep taking your horse to shared troughs and risk the spread of disease from other horses via shared water.
Protection from the sun
Lots of horses enjoy lazing in the sunshine, but make sure they also have access to some shade for when they need to get out of the heat. If your horse has pink skin or white markings they can become sunburnt. Their muzzle can also get burnt, so keep an eye on this and apply sun cream or consider a mask, visor or light rug to protect them. You could also try zinc oxide on this area, which will soothe sore skin and form a barrier.
Flies and Insects
Flies are a real problem in the summer, and not only are they annoying to your horse, they can also cause further problems; for example watery eyes can attract insects and lead to eyes becoming inflamed and infected, and similarly with cuts and grazes. If you think your horse needs protection there are plenty of fly repellent products and also fly masks and sheets available.
Watch out for Sweet Itch
Sweet itch is a reaction to the bites of certain midges which can result in extremely itchy skin and excessive scratching. This can then lead to further skin problems if the skin becomes broken as it can attract other flies and infection. Check your horse for signs of scratching and apply a sweet itch lotion to any inflamed areas. You could also consider a fly rug if it seems to be causing your horse a problem – just make sure you remove it daily to check the skin and give your horse a groom.
Working and competing in hot weather
If your horse is working or competing they can get very hot and sweat a lot. To help them cool down after exercise use a sponge and cool water to help them regulate their temperature, give them plenty of water and walk them slowly to avoid muscles stiffening. You might want to consider using electrolytes if your horse is sweating a lot, which replace the salts lost through sweat and help to rehydrate your horse.