Finally summer is here and horses owners can enjoy the warm weather riding outside. However, living in a sunburnt country means summer days can be extreme in heat. It is extremely important to take care of yourself and your horses in hot weather to make sure you both stay cool and safe. Here are a list of useful tips for rider and horse about riding safely in high temperatures.
For the rider
- Wear light coloured clothing when riding outside or working around the stables as light colours reflect sunlight rather than absorb it like darker hues.
- Wear clothing made out of technical fabrics that allow the skin to breath and to absorb perspiration.
- Gloves and socks are also available in fabrics that allow temperature and moisture management to help cool you down when riding in the heat.
- You could invest in a summer riding helmet that have additional built-in ventilation features to help keep you comfortable.
- Always wear sunscreen when working or riding outside to prevent getting burned by the hot sun.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of cool water.
For the horse
- If you plan to ride on a hot summer’s day, make sure you calculate and consider the heat index from local weather reports. If the heat index for the day works out to be 150+ it would most likely be wise to avoid riding on that day.
temperature + humidity = heat index
- Horses prefer milder conditions to work in such as 18 degrees Celsius with a low percentage of humidity, therefore we have to be careful not to work them too hard in warmer temperatures.
- Considering your horse’s fitness level and condition is also important when riding in warm weather. If your horse is fit, has no serious respiratory or medical conditions and has been working often up to summer, he will be quite able to be worked on a hot day.
- It is important to include a lot of walk breaks during your summer rides with time for your horse’s breathing to return to normal rate.
- Horse’s hooves heat up quickly especially on synthetic riding surface. Try to avoid working on dark arena surfaces and hose your horse’s hooves after working him. Do not forget to dry the pasterns carefully and apply hoof oil to prevent hooves drying and cracking.
- Always remove leg wraps, boots or bandages from horse’s legs as soon as possible after riding. Horse tendons are made up of stretchy fibers that generate heat internally. Whilst exercising, these tendons can heat up to 45-60 degrees Celsius and will continue to heat after work is finished. Therefore it is essential to cool the horse’s legs by hose them down straight after riding.
- The fastest way to cool a horse down is to apply large amounts of cool water to his body. Initially it was thought that removing all of the water with a scraper and repeating speeds the cooling process up. Research has now shown that hosing them off until they are cool to the touch is more effective.
- If your horse is older, overweight or coming back from an injury it is advisable to ask your veterinarian how much to ride him in hotter weather.
- Offer water regularly to your horse in hot weather to help prevent impactation colic.
Tips for summer shows
- Many show jackets and show shirts are available in technical fabrics designed to keep competitors comfortable while riding. Look for brands that offer light weight, breathable fabrics that are able to manage moisture.
- Drink plenty of water. You loose moisture through exhaling as well as perspiring so you should sip water continually throughout the day. Being dehydrated is not only unhealthy but can easily affect your performance in the arena.