The thought of summer is usually what keeps us all going through the harder months, but sometimes when the weather is sweltering, we long for those cooler days. Here are my tips for surviving summer with horses.
- Consider altering your yard routine. At our yard, we swap the horses round so they are in the cool stables during the day and out in the cool field over night. This also maximises turnout time for them, which is always appreciated!
When the weather is really hot, I will tend to go to ride much later on in the evening, when it’s cooler and more enjoyable for us both. It’s light until gone 9pm, so I make the most of not having to rush straight from work.
- Water water water. It’s boring and we all know it, but hydration is so key for you both. The amount of times I’ve had headaches from dehydration means I no-longer risk it. I found these cool little water pouches in my local pound shop (dollar store for those of you across the pond) which I can clip to my saddle D-ring and drink on the go when I’m hacking. They are also available from Amazon. Consider also using electrolytes to replenish your horse after a good workout and have a salt-lick in the stable, too.
- Rinse off. I’ve become obsessed with no-rinse washes. They are the perfect summer treat to cool your horse down after a ride. A quick squirt in a bucket of water will cool your horse and make him more comfortable, and can help keep the summer flies and bugs at bay if you choose a flavour such as citronella. Also, the act of simply removing sweat from your horse after a ride will help stop him being eaten alive by bugs!
- Cool those legs. I’ve recently been reading about the importance of not letting your horse’s legs overheat, particularly when wearing boots. Perhaps go bootless when it’s really hot. Let’s face it, if the ground is dried to the consistency of concrete then you probably won’t be doing any cantering when hacking. Also consider using a leg cooling gel or ointment after a ride.
- Choose the right attire. I’ve recently discovered that breeches come in different thicknesses for different weather. Perhaps I sound like an absolute simpleton, but I didn’t realise summer breeches were a thing until now and it’s changed everything. I’m also enjoying mesh-backed riding gloves in the warmer weather. I’m not one to go glove-less as I once had an accident involving my palms and a road at high speed, but these are a cooler alternative to standard gloves.
- Baby wipes in the fridge. If you happen to have a fridge at your yard, buy some baby wipes and keep them in there. They make the perfect, refreshing cool down for face, neck, hands, wherever you fancy. On a similar note, keep some after-sun or aloe vera gel in the fridge at home for a post-shower treat. Even if you aren’t sunburnt, it’s really cooling and calming after a hot ride.
- Don’t just fly spray your horse. Spray rugs, the stable walls and bedding with fly repellent to help keep those beasts away from your baby. A tennis racquet like device for zapping bugs has been my saviour this summer – you can zap away any nasties before they become a nuisance.
I hope you’ve been enjoying the fabulous weather, keep cool!