|All weather horse care|
As we go to press the sun is truly shining, with the warmest summer in a decade. Keeping your horse comfortable whatever the temperature is important for health and welfare, and there are things you can do to make it easier.
In the summer:
If you usually stable at night and turn out in the daytime, it is definitely worth considering reversing the process n the height of summer, allowing for a cooler exercise period and shade / protection from the flies during the day.
Do ensure there is a field shelter or tree to provide shade if your horse is outside all day, and don’t forget to provide plenty of cool water.
If you are entering any competitions and need to travel, try to leave early in the morning to avoid making the horses travel later in the day when the sun is hottest, as horseboxes can get very hot indeed, especially in traffic.
Corral away from standing water, as midges and other biters breed rapidly in wet areas in the heat, which can exacerbate sweet itch if your horse is prone.
Like humans, horses can burn. Patches of white are the most exposed, so use a suitable sun cream. Don’t forget to use insecticide in the stables to try and keep the worst at bay, and keep the mucking out up to date, with the muckheap at a safe distance from the stable.
In the winter
The good old British weather means we often have quite a diverse range of weather conditions throughout our winters, from gales and storms to heavy snow and driving rain.
Feed is important – a thin horse will suffer more in the cold, so make sure your horses diet is adequate. Access to water is equally important, as standing water may well freeze in extreme conditions, so this must be checked very regularly in case the surface has frozen.
Protection for the weather is all important. Horses do grow and extra layer of hair in preparation, and the natural pattern and condition of this hair helps insulate and repel moisture rather effectively. Nonetheless, different breeds or senior horses may need extra warmth, so rugging may be advised. You will need to check this, as horses overheat very easily, and sweating beneath them can cause hair loss and skin problems, so do check under the rug on a daily basis. There are different varieties available for warmth of to keep water out – speak to your equestrian supplier about your horse and his needs.
Shelter is also important. In the summer it provides shade, but a strongly built shelter can also offer protection from strong wind and driving rain for outside horses. It will need to be mucked out regularly, and if it is used often, then clean bedding should be provided.
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