Hot weather riding requires some planning to prevent dehydration andheat related illness.
The most important preparations begin well before you tack up.
• Your horse needs to be acclimated to the heat. Horses living where it is warm most of the year can tolerate heat better than horses who live in regions with seasonal extremes.
• Your horse needs to be physically fit. The heart, blood vessels and lungs of a fit horse are better equipped to handle larger heat loads. Is your horse overweight? Find out here.
If your horse has been idle all winter, she’ll need a little spring tune-up before she hits the trail.
A general health checkup followed by a conditioning regimen will help her handle the added stress of hot weather riding. Consider a veterinary appointment to check her hooves, joints, tendons and ligaments.
The first few weeks of spring conditioning should be fairly light, gradually increasing over time. Start slowly and gently, with a gradual increase in the speed (intensity) and duration (distance) of exercise.
Take a few practice rides of a short duration. Watch her hear and respiratory rates and encourage her to drink out of unfamiliar streams and water sources.
If you’re confident that your horse is ready for hot weather riding, follow these guidelines:
Learn the signs, symptoms and treatment for dehydration and heat-related illness. Know your horse’s baseline heart rate and respiratory rates.
Water your horse thoroughly before starting out. Encourage your horse to drink more water with these tips.
Stop at hilltops. Your horse will exert the most when climbing hills. Let her rest at the top, under shade if possible. At longer rest stops, remove your saddle and pad to increase the amount of exposed surface area.
Take water breaks. After riding for more than an hour, encourage your horse to drink. Offer water that’s not much cooler than the air. If available, add a prepackaged horse electrolyte supplements to your packed water to make a “sports drink” for your horse.
Cool her down by soaking a small towel or sponge in water and placing it over her poll. Then sponge her neck and lower legs.
Encourage your horse to drink along the trail.
Know your horseback riding route. Do not set out on an unfamiliar route in very hot weather.
Choose a shady route if possible. Consider an early morning ride when the temperatures are cooler.