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Keeping Your Horse Cool and Fit in the Summer Heat

Keeping Your Horse Cool and Fit in the Summer Heat

What's that you say? Summers around the corner, already?!

As the mercury climbs and the Aussie summer encroaches, it's time for us to be extra mindful of our four-legged friends and get educated on how to protect them from Australia's harmful rays.

Exercise is crucial for our equine companions all year round, but in the heat of the moment, we've got to be smart about it. Let's saddle up and dive into some tips on how to maintain our horses fitness levels whilst keeping them healthy and safe as the warmer months edge closer.

Feeling the Heat: What You Need to Know

Our furry pals feel the heat, just like we do. Given their size, horses can heat up quickly and it's tougher for them to cool down compared to smaller critters. Just think how hot they can get standing out in the blistering sun amidst a hot summers day in their paddocks - we hate the thought of it!

When horses are working up a sweat, it's essential to keep an eye out for signs of heat stress which can include:

  1. Sweating Buckets: While a bit of sweat is fine, if your horse looks like it's just taken a dip, it might be time to take steps to help them cool down.

  2. Panting Like a Pooch: Rapid breathing, even after a breather, could mean your horse is feeling the heat. 

  3. Lethargy Blues: If your trusty steed seems unusually tired or weak, it's time to take a break from the exercise.

  4. Pounding Heartbeat: A heart that's racing like it's in the final stretch can signal some heat trouble. Pay close attention to any significant changes in heart rate.

  5. Deep Yellow Stream: Keep an eye on the colour of their pee - we know, this isn't the most glamorous part of owning a horse, but this is super important to pay attention to to ensure that your horse is adequately hydrated. Dark urine could be a sign they need more H2O.


Playing It Cool: Building a Safe Exercise Routine

Let's jump into building an exercise routine for your horses during summer that still allows you to hit your horses fitness goals, whilst keeping them safe in the heat.

1. Early Birds or Night Owls
Let's face it, we all love a bit of morning or evening exercise - the weather is generally cooler and it's a great way to start or end your day! Well, our horses do too! This is a great way to avoid the blazing midday sun - schedule your workouts for the cooler parts of the day to ensure that your horse doesn't show signs of overeating during midday workouts. It's like picking the perfect time for a beach day – you want to avoid the hottest hours, right?

Keeping Your Horse Cool and Fit in the Summer Heat

2. Start Slow, Finish Steady
Just like us, horses need a warm-up. Start your exercise with a leisurely walk to get the blood flowing, gradually building up their pace. And when you're done, give them time to cool down as well. This not only helps prevent muscle stiffness, it's also a great way to prevent overheating.

3. Chase the Shade
Who likes a sunburn? Not us and definitely not our horses! If possible, choose workout spots with natural shade such as large trees or awnings. If that's not an option with your current set up, consider setting up a temporary shelter to alleviate some of the harmful rays.

Keeping Your Horse Cool and Fit in the Summer Heat

4. H2O Hero
Hydration is the name of the game. It's constantly drilled in to us that we need a minimum of 2L of water a day, so why should it be any different for our horses? Make sure your horse is well-watered before, during, and after a workout. Be sure to offer water regularly and toss in some electrolytes to replace those minerals lost through their sweat sesh.

Keeping Your Horse Cool and Fit in the Summer Heat

5. Tailored Training
Remember, every horse is different. Tailor your workout to your horse's fitness level. Pushing too hard, especially in the heat, can lead to some serious consequences.


Keeping Cool in the Hot Pursuit

1. Rest Stops Galore
Imagine running a marathon without a water break. Not a pleasant thought, right? Well, our horses need rest too. Take regular breaks, find a shaded spot, and offer some agua to help them chill out amongst the activity.

2. Vital Signs Vigilance
Keep a close eye on the essentials: heart rate, breathing, and temperature. If any of these stay high even after a break, it's time to give your horse a breather and continue to monitor your horse.

3. Body Talk
Our four-legged friends communicate too, just not with words. If they're looking distressed, tired, or unwilling to keep going, it's time to call it a day. They're depending on us to look out for them!

4. Pro Tip: Ask the Experts
When in doubt, ask a pro. Your local vet or equine fitness expert can offer tailored advice, especially if your horse has specific health concerns.

Keeping Your Horse Cool and Fit in the Summer Heat

Summer is the best time to embrace the great outdoors and bask in what summer has to bring, however we are all aware of the harmful side effects that can coincide if proper steps aren't taken to mitigate potential risks.

Exercising horses in summer is all about being savvy and showing them love. By following these tips, you'll keep your horse fit, happy, and cool as a cucumber in the summer heat! It's important to remain aware - looking out for signs that your horse may be expressing or changes in their attitude or demeanour. 

Remember, each horse is as unique as you are, so continue to pay attention to their cues and adjust your workout routine as needed. With a little extra care, you and your horse can make the most of the summer while staying safe and healthy. 

Ride on, and enjoy the summer sun, mates!

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