Ten top ways to make sure your horse stays healthy and happy this summer
Long, hot summer days can be hazardous for a horse’s health, but a bit of planning can keep your horse safe and comfortable during the sunniest of seasons. This advice from Blue Cross Horse Welfare Manager Ruth Court will help you make sure you and your horse are ready for summer…
1. Keep them cool. Make sure your horse has access to a shady area or shelter so they can keep out of the sun’s rays and the flies on hot summer days. Try not to ride your horse at the hottest times of the day, but choose the cool of early morning or evening instead. Your horse will be grateful if you wash off sweaty areas too which may attract the flies and become sore.
2. Plenty of water. A constant supply of clean, fresh water is essential to prevent dehydration.
3. Salt lick. A salt lick will help replace vital nutrients that horses lose easily through sweating.
4. Fly protection. These pesky critters can be a real nightmare for horses and ponies. Long manes and tails are a natural fly defence, but if you prefer your horse to have a pulled mane and forelock then you could use a fly fringe or mask. If your horse hasn’t worn one before introduce is gradually, and remember to watch out for rubbing. You may also want to buy a fine-mesh anti-fly rug and a good quality fly repellent.
5. Sun block. A suitable hypoallergenic and waterproof sunblock cream will help protect exposed, unpigmented, white and pink areas of the skin, like the muzzle. Apply daily to prevent sunburn.
6. Weight check. You should monitor your horse’s weight all year, but be extra vigilant over the summer when there is plenty of grass. Use a weigh tape and keep a weekly chart, which will help you to monitor the pounds. If you notice a weight gain, (or preferably before your horse gains weight!) restrict your horses grazing area and /or hours and consider using a well-fitted muzzle for short periods. Remember this should be introduced carefully if he has not worn one before. If your horse is eating hard feed, consider reducing it or cutting it out.
7. Farrier appointment. Horses’ feet can dry out in warmer weather so keep them well hydrated – your farrier can advise which products to use.
8. Nose net. These can be really handy if your horse is irritated by pollen. Introduce your horse to the net gradually if they aren’t used to it.
9. Stay one step ahead if your horse suffers from sweet itch. Consider bringing your horse in at dawn and dusk, and consider putting a sweet itch rug on him and ask your vet about suitable topical treatments for the affected areas.
10. Health check. Are your horse’s flu and Tetanus vaccinations up to date? Do you need to worm/egg count?