Like other animals, horses can be severely affected by extreme temperatures or over-exertion during the summer months.
Here are some facts you should know about horses and the hot weather.
Horses, like human, have cooling mechanisms in order to help control their internal temperatures. First, their capillaries become dilated in order to send more of their blood closer to their skin. This allows internal heat to dissipate through the skin against the cooler air and decreases the heat absorbed into their muscles and organs.
If a horse’s capillaries cannot keep up with the heat it is generating, a horse will then begin to sweat, pant, and flatten its hair in order to cool down.
In order to protect your horse from heat exhaustion, it’s important to take steps to help your horse cool down.
Allow your horse to drink cool water as often as possible and electrolytes, especially if your horse has been sweating or did not drink water for an extended period of time.
You can check your horse to see if it is dehydrated by pinching and releasing a fold of skin near its shoulder. If the crease takes more than two seconds to flatten out, the horse is dehydrated.
You can also press your fingertips against the horse’s gums. When you release, you will see a white spot. If that spot remains white for more than three seconds, the horse may be dehydrated.
If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to get your horse into a shaded area, encourage it to drink cool water, douse it with cold water, and allow it to graze or eat it’s normal food. You can also press ice against its head or throat area.
Stay safe this summer and enjoy the ride!