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Keeping Horses Cool and Healthy When the Temperatures Soar

The idea of one’s horse dying from heat stroke is a sobering one. For the most part, this problem can be avoided with ease. However, if one remains ignorant about horses and their tolerance for heat, how to test for dehydration and their methods of cooling themselves down, tragedy can strike. Therefore, it’s important to remain in the know

Perhaps unexpectedly, horses are able to sweat, but this is not their primary method of cooling off. The main way that horses cool off is by dilating their capillaries. Sweating is a sort of last resort for a horse being buffeted by high temperatures. With this in mind, one should not use sweating as the measuring stick for whether or not a horse is too hot. Since dilated capillaries are not something one can easily observe, it is often best to err on the side of caution. If one suspects a horse is overheating, it is probably best to take steps to remedy this problem.

Nevertheless, there are some ways to see if a horse is overheating that do not involve pure intuition.  The first way is to pinch the horse’s oat and pull it toward you. When letting go, see how long it takes for the skin to return to the flat position it was already in. The longer it takes for the fold to return to normal, the more dehydrated the horse is. Generally, if it takes only one second, the horse is hydrated. If it takes between two to four seconds, the horse needs water. If it takes five seconds or more, this is a medical emergency that requires immediate veterinary attention.

Secondly, one can apply pressure to a horse’s gums. Once the pressure is relieved, a white spot will appear. The quicker it takes for this white spot to go away, the more hydrated the horse is. One can use similar time increments as the above test to see just how badly the horse is dehydrated.

The most obvious way to rehydrate an overheated horse is to give it water. In addition, giving it calcium, sodium, magnesium and other minerals goes a long way as well. Luckily, this can usually be attained by simply feeding the horse hay or some other grazing material. (Many experts recommend that if you use alfalfa hay, this type of hay should only be given to horses at night when the temperatures are cooler.) From time to time, it might be necessary to give a horse an electrolyte supplement on top of this, particularly those that have been active for a few hours.

A horse overheating can spell disaster. Knowing how to see if a horse is dehydrated as well as how to remedy this can prevent any complications.

 

Posted By: The Hay Manager

Posted on: 07/24/2017
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