There are four ways to decrease the risk of equine heat stress.
Open the windows and doors. Low tech, but it works!
Add fans if it can be done safely. Do not run extension cords or place a fan within reach of your horse’s curious mouth. There are fans with misting attachments that can lower the temperature by up to 10 degrees. These aren’t as effective in high humidity conditions.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
An idle horse needs at least 10 gallons of fresh, drinkable water each day. As the temperatures rise or the horse’s activity increases, consumption can increase to 20 or 25 gallons per day. Be sure your buckets are clean, in good condition and tip-proof. A funky, leaky or tipped-over bucket is a quick way to decease water consumption.
Offer plenty of fresh water. If your horse doesn’t seem to be drinking enough, there are some ways to increase his consumption. Tempt your horse with these techniques:
Soak hay before feeding toincrease its hydrating capability. One wet-down flake of hay can absorb 1-2 gallons of water. If you feed your horse well-soaked hay, you can make a real impact on his fluid consumption.
Try feeding some watery fruits like watermelon.
If you’re traveling with your horse, try to offer water in a quiet area, where he will not be disturbed by all the newness around him.
Some horses don’t like “different” water. If you can bring enough water from home, do so. If not, try to add a little apple juice, sugar beet water or apple cider vinegar to the water a few days prior to travel. It may help to disguise the “new” flavor.
Adjust and supplement rations
In hot weather, harder working animals should be given supplemental electrolytes. Serious electrolyte and fluid loss can result in a variety of health problems, such as fatigue, muscle cramps, and colic. Equine electrolyte supplements can also be given in the horse’s feed.
Heat tolerance improves with increased fitness. Conditioning builds the circulatory and respiratory systems so the horse can cope with the additional stresses of heat during exercise.
Use common sense during the hottest days of summer. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of equine heat stress and take steps to keep your horse cool, comfortable and safe.