Caring for horses in hot weather


With a well-thought-out management plan, horses can stay cool and comfy in the midst of summer.

To help get you started on the right track, caught up with Nancy Loving, DVM, an equine practitioner in Boulder, Colorado, to find out what the most important things to consider are when caring for horses in extreme heat.

When dealing with hot temperatures, Loving said the most important thing an owner can do is provide his or her horse with plenty of fresh water.

“Clean water should always be available; an average horse needs five to seven gallons of water per day in cool weather, while in hot weather, requirements for maintenance and to compensate for losses in sweat may prompt intake of 20 gallons or more per day,” she explained. “Horses in a herd should have access to a couple of water tanks spaced a distance apart so dominant horses don’t prevent a thirsty, more timid horse from drinking.

Adding an electrolyte supplement to your horse’s diet could help keep him drinking and restore the electrolyte balances disrupted by sweating, and horses should have access to a salt block or receive a daily salt supplement (no more than a tablespoon per day) to allow them to meet their dietary sodium chloride requirements.

Additionally, she added that for a horse that doesn’t drink well, offering a watery gruel of a supplement (such as a complete feed pellets) rather than feeding them dry can help increase the horse’s water intake.

Insects are another concern that accompany increasing temperatures, Loving said.

“Hot weather brings insects so don’t forget to use fly sheets, insect repellant, and during active insect times of day, it can help to bring your horse into the barn and use fans to create air flow that foils the ability of flying insects to hover around your horse,” she added, as many biting flies are poor fliers.

Loving also encouraged owners to provide their turned out horses “with a stand of shade trees or a loafing shed (run-in shed) with good ventilation. Having areas to get out of the direct sun offers respite, particularly if they have air circulation, also wards off the insects.

* * *

For an overheated horse, find shade, if possible, and repeatedly douse him with copious cool water, using a scraper to remove it immediately. Continue until his temperature drops to 101 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. If your horse develops a cough or fever within a few days of a long trailer ride, call your veterinarian. —AAEP

* * *

“In hot and humid climates your horse might appreciate being hosed down with cool water,” she added.

One concern many horse owners have in hot temperatures is heat stress, but Loving explained that this ailment typically affects horses in hard work rather than those lounging in a pasture.

Full article »


Hot summer days and your horse »

Related Reading

10 facts about horses and hot weather, Do you know all you need to keep your horse cool and comfortable this summer? Take our quiz to find out. Equus Magazine »

Prevent heat stress in horses, On summer days, it can be difficult to distinguish normal fatigue and sweatiness from dangerous heat stress in horses. Here’s what to look for and how to safeguard your horse’s well-being. Equus Magazine »


2 thoughts on “Caring for horses in hot weather”

  1. Thanks for posting an extremely important article full of priority facts from Nancy Loving, DVM. It’s so helpful to know that all a horse owner and lover has to do is to read, read, and read some more on the topics which are so vital on the art of horse owning.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s