Ahh finally, the summer months have arrived! The long awaited blue skies, glorious temperatures and lighter evenings are upon us. For many of us equestrians, the arrival of summer means endless hours spent up the yard and in the saddle, I mean we deserve it, the winters with horses are rough! In this months blog I am going to highlight the ups and downs of summer and how to tackle some of the problems that arrive with the warmer weather.
Alas, the arrival of summer also brings the presence of those pesky horse flies, you know, those nasty creatures that can turn both you and your horse’s mood sour in seconds. The horse fly or Tabanus for those of you who like to get technical, are attracted to wooded areas and warm temperatures. A little fun fact for you; horse flies are “scared” of the dark!
HOW TO TACKLE:
You tend to find that they avoid heavily shaded areas such as stable or field shelter, so if at all possible, stable your horse during the day and turn out at night. Fly masks and sheets are also great for keeping the horse flies and midges at bay. Failing that, a super strong scented fly repellent should keep them away, try to use something that contains a high percentage of Deet. If you prefer something more natural, vinegar is brilliant! Its smells vile and tastes disgusting and your horse will smell like a bag of chips but the flies will steer well clear! Obviously, do a small test patch on the inside of your horse’s leg and repeat twice, leaving 24-48 hours between each one!
The sun burns. That’s a pretty obvious statement but you would be surprised at the amount of people who assume horses wont be affected by the sun. Just like you and me, your horse can be come subject to severe sun burn if precautions aren’t taken.
HOW TO TAKLE:
Just as you would do yourself, apply a sun cream of at least 30 SPF to your horse daily, twice daily if you want to be extra vigilant. Again, a patch test is strongly recommended, just like humans, horses can have very sensitive skin! If your horse does get a nasty burn on his or her nose, apply aloe Vera to it as soon as possible. Aloe Vera has a cooling effect and should take the worst of the heat out and will act as a moisturizer, preventing the skin from peeling. (See next point)
PEELING AND CRACKED MUZZLES:
So your horse got burnt and now his sensitive muzzle is starting to flake and peel. Its normal don’t worry. Just like when you burn, the damaged skin peels away leaving a rather red and sore looking new layer of skin. The hard baked ground can also cause problems for our horses, the rough, dry terrain can cause the soft muzzle to become dry and cracked but we can fix this!
HOW TO TACKLE:
As I mentioned before, aloe Vera is a great remedy for sore and broken skin. Its cooling properties draw out any heat and soothes the inflamed area. However, tempting it is, DO NOT apply an oil based lotion like sudocream as this can actually burn the sensitive skin even further when exposed to sunlight! Instead, stick to your aloe Vera or similarly, a cooling lavender gel which is available at most tack stores.
Temperatures in the UK can reach a high of 30° and above, especially in those southern counties. Its important to try and keep your horse as comfortable as possible during these periods. Horses sweat like you and me, the evaporation of sweat on the skin has a cooling effect, its their bodies way of managing heat. However, when the mid day heat is intense, its often too tempting to hose your horse with freezing cold water, but we warned, this can have the opposite effect!
HOW TO TACKLE:
The best way to keep your horse cool is to keep them in a dark stable during the day and turn them out at night and to only ride them in the early morning or late evening. As mentioned above, it is all too tempting to cold hose your horse. But this carries a huge risk if your horse isn’t dried off properly! Please please please make sure you remove any excess water from your horse’s coat as this water can get trapped in the hair. You may think “what’s the big deal?” this water will heat up in the sun and form a layer trapping the heat into the horse’s body; this will lead to heat exhaustion and heat stoke which can be fatal in horses.
Summer is supposed to be an enjoyable time that is well spent with your horse, just be aware of the risks that come along with the warmer weather and take precautions to prevent any mishaps! I hope this information has been useful to you!
Have a great summer, all the best,