10 Tips for Surviving the Summer

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Summer is just around the corner, which means longer days, more time with our four-legged friends, and shiny summer coats! However, we also have to take some extra precautions to keep our horses healthy and comfortable in the summer heat. Below, Florida resident and RW customer Jenny gives us her 10 tips for surviving summer for both horse and rider!

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To outsiders, I'm sure the Florida summer looks blissfully relaxing, with a warm temperature that is perfect for a nice dip in the pool with a cocktail in hand. To people living in Florida, it means running from the house to the car and turning the ac on full blast and wearing the least amount of clothes that is publicly acceptable. For horse people, it means early morning rides, hosing down horses, sweat, bad helmet hair and just a non-enjoyable time in general.

However, it can be made better if you have a good plan in place and you know what you and your horse need to survive the extreme heat. Some horses sweat well and cope in the heat like my horse Teddy. Then you have horses with major non-sweating issues and it turns into a whole different story. Read on for my 10 tips for surviving the summer!

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Me and Teddy in the dressage ring. In general, Teddy copes pretty well in the Florida summer heat.

1) Have a Turnout and Feeding Plan

First, I like to come up with a plan for each horse. Having a plan for turnout is key to ensuring your horse is comfortable. Mid-day turnout is not recommended as temperatures can get to over 90 degrees. Letting your horse out as early as possible for a few hours works great; I bring mine in around 10:30am. For supplements, I feed electrolytes so they drink enough water throughout the day and have a Hanging Himalayan Rock Salt Horse Lick in the stable. It’s an excellent source of iron, potassium and magnesium, too! Bingo, my horse that doesn't sweat properly, also gets a beer a day to help with sweating and it seems to be working well.

2) Keep Your Horse Comfortable

In Florida, summer means extreme heat, humidity, and bugs! Make sure you keep your horse comfortable when turned out, in the stable, and while riding. Both my horses have full fly sheets. Teddy in particular is super sensitive to bugs and goes a little wild when he’s turned out with no fly sheet, and they're also excellent for sun protection. I'd recommend the Horseware Amigo 3-In-1 Evolution Fly Sheet w/Neck Cover. When I’m at the barn or about to ride I like to apply fly spray as much as I can. I use Bronco Gold Fly Spray and Coat Conditioner because I like that it’s a 2 in 1 spray and it's the most effective spray I've tried.

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Bronco Gold is perfect to have at the ringside because it keeps the bugs off and gives Teddy's coat a beautiful shine!

3) Plan Your Ride Times

I generally ride around 7:30am every day. It starts to warm up the second the sun comes out, so it’s best to get your ride times in as early as possible. Another great time to ride is late evening, especially after a rain storm. If you have a horse like Bingo who doesn’t sweat, I recommend the very early ride time.

Knowing your horses limits in
the heat is a major part to this.​

Some days it’s just too hot to get anything significant done so I just walk him around on a lose rein, give him sugar cubes and and have a big grooming session. It’s very dangerous in the high heat for horses because they dehydrate easily and some can actually collapse if over-worked.

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Me and Bingo (my horse with sweating issues) back in our show jumping days.

4) Protect Yourself from the Sun

Sun shirts are are your best friend. I never go riding in the summer in a short sleeve shirt. I highly recommend a good long sleeve summer shirt; UV protected ones are the best! I wear and recommend the Kastel Denmark UPF30 UV Long Sleeve Sun Shirt. These are a great value for your money at $75 and they come in every color!

5) Have Water Accessible While you Ride

Have a bucket of water by the ring so your horse can have a drink mid ride. I like to put some Gatorade powder in there to make it more inviting for your horse to drink. I also have a bucket with a sponge to cool them off if I’m working them a little harder. A quick sponge and scrape is a great way to give your horse a quick cool down!

6) Grooming is Key

After a ride I like to give my horses some major grooming time. They deserve it after working hard for us in the heat, and I really enjoy this bonding time with them. My rides cut down to about 25 minutes during the summer; it does no good for either horse or rider when both are exhausted. I give a 10 minute hose down, scraping the water off straight away. If you leave your horse soaking wet in the sun, he will actually get warmer as the water just sits on his skin, making a blanket like effect.

You should scrape off the water and hose
continuously for 5-10 minutes until you can
feel your horse has cooled down.​

Then I towel dry and fan them off. I LOVE to spray Absorbine CoolDown Herbal Rinse After Workout Liniment daily all over the body. It helps with cooling them down and it helps with any muscle soreness. For easy application, I mix it with water in a spray bottle.

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Bingo awaiting his Herbal Rinse routine

7) Make Frozen Treats

I love absolutely love doing this for Teddy and Bingo. Not only is it fun to do, but also the horses love it! Cut up some veggies, place them in a big Tupperware, and fill with water or juice and let it freeze overnight. Then, just put the frozen block in their feed bucket and it will keep your horses occupied for a long time. On top of staying cool, this is also a good way to keep your horses occupied if they are in the stables for long periods of time. Plus, who doesn’t love a frozen treat?!

8) Bring on the Cooling

Fans are your friend in the summer. If you live in an area that gets really hot and humid in the summer like Florida, I highly recommend a fan for each stall. It keeps the air moving and your horses much happier. I also use Professional's Choice Ice Boots after my rides and recently bought this nifty back icing pack by Physio Tom that cools quickly. These are really great for non-sweating horses like Bingo!

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Bingo in his Equi-Ice Physio Tom

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Bingo rocking his Professional's Choice Ice Boots

9) Maintain Their Coats

Keep your horses clipped! My horses generally will get clipped every 6 weeks in the summer but sometimes more if the hair is growing fast. A thick coat is a big no no in the summer. Another tip for their coat in the summer is having a good fungus spray or a good fungus defense product. Bingo survives his summers using Coat Defense. Coat Defense Powder is great to get fungus off and the Coat Defense Paste is great with summer sores.

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Coat defense is a staple in my tack trunk!

10) Know the Signs of Heat Stress

Always know the signs of heat stress, especially when you live in warmer summer climates like Florida. Below is a list of signs to look out for:
  • Significant sweating
  • Increased resting heart rate (greater than 60 beats per minute)
  • Rapid breathing (greater than 80 breaths per minute)
  • Dehydration
  • Significantly fatigued
Don’t push your horse too hard in the heat and know when to stop. Sometimes it’s best to just have a nice hack and bond with your horse and relax.

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Bingo getting some well deserved snuggles.

I hope all these tips help in some way. There’s lots we can do to help reduce the stress of summer heat for your horses. Know when to call it a day and just enjoy being there with your best friend. We are lucky to have these animals in our life and we must know how to properly care for them and do right by them. They try their best for us so it's our job to give them the best care possible and the best life. The summers are hot and humid but let’s not let it stop us from having fun and enjoying our horses! If anyone has any questions please feel free to reach out to me on social media.
 
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