Summer essentials for your horse

As the days become longer and warmer, and winter blankets are packed away, it’s a sure sign that it’s time to prepare your horse for the summer months ahead. 

Summer can be an uncomfortable time for horses, especially if there’s a heatwave on the horizon, as soaring temperatures and blazing sunshine can impact your horse’s health. 

Being watchful of your horse during this time is a must, and getting everything you need to ensure they’re as safe and comfortable as they can be should be at the top of your list as spring turns to summer.

Keep them hydrated

Your horse will need a lot more water in hotter temperatures. The average horse will need around nine gallons of water per day, and this might need to be doubled on summer days. Your horse should have fresh water every day, and be sure to check that they don’t need a top up throughout the day. 

If you can, ensure their water source is in shade – and of course it should be as accessible as possible!

Keep their coat, skin and hooves safe

The sun and heat can be unforgiving on horse’s skin and hooves. Hot surfaces can put a horse’s hooves at risk of splitting and cracking from the heat, causing a great deal of pain and discomfort for the horse. 

Horses with pale or pink skin are especially susceptible to burning if they spend too long out in the sun. Thankfully, there are a number of essentials that can keep your horse healthy and comfortable during the summer months.

Specialised equine sun cream is a great way to protect their skin. Put on a thick coating of product, and if your horse does get sunburnt you should keep them in the shade and treat them with soothing ointments, such as aloe.

Hoof oil is a useful product to have on hand throughout the summer. Applying an oil will keep your horse’s hooves moisturised and protected against hot surfaces. Just as you would with a dog, it’s worth assessing the heat of surfaces that your horse might be walking on before letting them roam – especially paved or tarmacked surfaces. 

Regularly groom and clean your horse’s coat and face to keep them free of flies. Giving their hair a trim if necessary will help you help them to stay as cool as possible during the long summer months.

Keep them comfortable and cool

Horses regulate their temperature and cool themselves by sweating. You can go the extra mile on hot days by stabling your horse during the hottest part of the day, keeping them out of the sun and in the shade. It’ll give them a bit of a break from the heat, and then they can enjoy themselves during the cooler hours, such as early morning and late evening.

Summer and horses often equals flies! Discomfort from the heat will only increase if your horse is also being bothered by flies all day, so invest in a good fly spray to keep pests at bay. 

It’s also worth planning ahead and adapting your horse’s routine for the summer. Change their exercise and grazing routine so that they’re out in the pasture during the cooler hours, reducing their exposure to the heat and sun. Be sure to only travel with your horse during the coolest parts of the day too. If you’re out and about with your horse and they’re in a horse box or trailer, keep fresh air flowing through their space so they’re as cool and comfortable as possible!

Neil’s top tips:

  • Mist your horse with cool water throughout the day, especially if they’re out grazing or you’re out for the day.
  • Don’t make too many sudden changes to your horse’s day. Ease them into a new summer schedule slowly so by the time the hot weather arrives, it’s normal for them to be out and about during the coolest parts of the day.
  • Check in on your horse as often as possible so you can keep an eye out for signs of heatstroke, ensure your horse has plenty of water and is as comfortable as possible.