Florida temperatures are already soaring to the high 80’s with light winds to make the sun’s rays stronger to the human and equine skin.  Here is a quick 10 point guide to help you keep your horses comfortable in hot and humid weather.


Your horse is at risk of  dehydration, weakness, horse colic, poor exercise tolerance — even horse heatstroke.  Young, old, ill, black/brown, and overweight horses are less able to regulate their body temperature and are especially at risk in extreme heat.  Also, remember that especially  grey or white horses are more susceptible to melanoma – a virulent skin cancer triggered by the sun, can cause death.


Signs to watch for when horses are affected by over heating and sun burn.  This is known as heat exhaustion or hyperthermia.  Heat stroke is a condition that occurs with horses performing a great deal of work in excessively hot or humid conditions. When the horse is unable to lose body heat, its body temperature goes up rapidly, causing severe (and sometimes fatal) health concerns. Therefore, heat stroke must be treated promptly and properly.

Signs of heat stroke or over-heating:

* Restlessness/Lethargy



 1      DRINKING WATER: Keep water troughs and bowls clean and free of debris. This helps to alleviate mosquitoes, caterpillars and other insects using your horses’ watering places as their own personal beach.  The cleaner your horses’ water, the more they will drink – and they can drink up to 25 gallons per day in really hot weather!

2     SKIN PROTECTION: Use liberal amounts of suntan cream on pink noses and other pink areas.  Horses are prone to sunburn, especially where the skin is pink (the nose, eyes, rectum, etc).  This also helps to stave off the mosquitoes and flies.  A fly sheet covering the body, neck and head is also a great comfort to the sun-sensitive horse, especially if the sheet is white, which reflects the sun’s rays.

3      CLEAN AND COOLING BATH WATER: Frequent showers and baths are always appreciated!  Cool down the major blood vessels which run down the inside of the legs and under the belly

4      SALT & ELECTROLYTES: Salt is essential for a horse’s metabolism.  If you provide free-choice salt, note that your horse should be eating at least two ounces per day. Weigh your blocks or bricks every two weeks to make sure. If he’s not consuming this much salt on his own, start adding salt to your horse’s grain. If you’re not feeding grain regularly, make a small daily meal of soaked beet pulp or wheat bran with two tablespoons of salt added.  Electrolytes are ionic solutions (salts), existing in nature in the form of minerals. Electrolytes are responsible for keeping the body properly hydrated so the muscles and nerves can function properly. You can feed these as a supplement very easily in the water or feed.

5     DIET: Grass is the ideal hot-weather feed, because of its high water content. If your horse doesn’t have enough grass available for it to be his main food, try tempting him with carrots, celery, apples, watermelon, squash, or salad greens added to a high-moisture mixture of soaked beet pulp and wheat bran.  Start with small meals if your horse isn’t used to these feeds.  Adding about 1 teaspoon of salt per pound of the mixture improves appeal and is a good way to get that needed salt into your horse.  Note: It’s normal for appetites to drop off during periods of extreme heat.   If this happens, don’t panic. Your horse will start eating again when he feels more comfortable.

6     SHADE AND TEMPERATURE CONTROL. This may appear to be an obvious point, but a lot of equine distress can be avoided if the horse has shade in the field  by way of trees or a shelter, or can even be brought in to a well ventilated barn during the hottest part of the day.

7     DRINKING WATER TEMPERATURE: Never offer your horse water to drink that is too cold when he/she is water deficient.  This can cause a chill.  Use tepid water and offer it frequently.  If the horse is really distressed and over heated he/she may not want to drink at first, but keep trying.

8     EXERCISE: Again an obvious one, but keep exercise times to the coolest parts of the day – early morning or late afternoon.  Keep taking frequent breaks in order to help the horse recover his/her respiration and ensure that after exercise the sweaty areas are thoroughly washed otherwise this causes skin soreness, attracts flies and prevents the correct circulation of air to move around the skin and coat.  During breaks you can even ‘spritz’ your horse on his jugular, legs and back.

9      GO NATURAL: Use natural materials where possible – ie cotton is better than synthetic for comfort and sweat absorption.

10     KNOW YOUR HORSE! Finally, it is essential that every horse owner know his or her horse’s normal, healthy resting temperature, heart rate, respiration (breathing) rate, and other vital signs.   For normal horse vital signs, here is a very handy link to show you what you should expect to see in your happy, healthy horse!

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© Good Apple Equine Consignment 2015