Heat exhaustion occurs when horses are performing in extreme heat, causing their body temperatures to rise. Heavy breathing, increased heart rate, and excess sweating are just a few signs of heat exhaustion. In extreme cases, dropping to the ground and muscle quivering can occur. In all cases, if the horse cannot lose some of the heat and regulate its body temperature, it can cause serious health concerns. These concerns can lead to respiratory and muscular system failure. To avoid these risks, these are the best ways to prevent horse heat exhaustion.
Take Frequent Breaks
When noticing signs of heat exhaustion, stop riding the horse or enforcing labor. The quickest method to combat further heat exhaustion symptoms is to allow breaks. Incorporate time for frequent breaks and extended rest periods. This will grant the horse time to regain normal breathing patterns and cool down. If the horse's body temperature continues to rise more frequently, consider stopping all activities for the day.
Provide Cool Water
In hot temperatures, it's vital to encourage hydration for your horse throughout the day. Provide clean and cool water and allow horses to drink every few minutes. Doing so will combat symptoms of heat exhaustion. Pouring cold water on a horse's skin can help as well. In extreme cases, adding ice to the cold water can lower the horse's body temperature quickly. If you're partaking in an activity with the horse, carry a spray bottle with water to cool the horse's body mid-activity.
Keep Horses in Shade
Offering relief from the sun will also help tremendously. Place the horse in a shaded area that shields them from the rays of the sun. Not only will it help combat heat exhaustion, but shade can also prevent sunburn on the horse's skin. Sunburns can occur on the horse's muzzle or face; therefore, face protection is vital. Be aware that shade changes throughout the day, so make sure the horse gets optimal protection by providing various cooling areas.
Being a responsible horse owner is a big task. Caring for these animals, especially in the heat, can take an extra amount of supervision. Like humans, horses can experience the damaging effects of extreme heat. Therefore, it's important to recognize the signs and understand the best ways to prevent horse heat exhaustion.