At last we are able to enjoy some warm weather (how long it will last is another question...) — but that means horse owners need to be prepared for the flies, sunburn and hard ground that are the inevitable result, so here are H&H’s summer tips to help you and your horse keep your cool
1. If you’re competing, leave as early as possible to avoid travelling in the heat and reduce the risk of getting stuck in traffic during the warmest part of the day.
2. Make sure that any windows are open to keep fresh air flowing through the horsebox. On arrival, consider whether the horses will be cooler standing on the lorry or trailer out of direct sun (consider dogs left in hot cars), or whether they would be better outside in the shade.
3. If your horse is normally stabled at night and out during the day, consider reversing his turnout times to avoid the hottest temperatures and the worst of the flies.
4.If your horse has to stay out all day, ensure there is somewhere he can escape from the sun and the flies, such as some trees or a field shelter.
5. Wet weather following a long dry spell can result in a flush of new grass growth similar to spring, so be prepared to limit your horse’s grazing if you are concerned about laminitis or weight gain.
6. If you suspect that your horse may be suffering from heat stroke, allow him to rest in a cool stable, poor cool water over his back and offer small amounts of water every few minutes. If symptoms persist contact your vet.
7. White areas on the face and heels are most commonly affected by sunburn because they have less skin pigment and hair coverage, so remember to apply suncream to these areas.
8. Spray your horse’s stable walls thoroughly with an insecticide to discourage stable flies from lingering there.
9. Midges tend to breed in wet areas, such as lakes and streams, so if your horse is prone to sweet itch move him away from standing water.
10. Remove droppings from your paddock regularly and keep the muck heap a good distance away from your horse’s stable to help reduce fly problems.
11. To treat a one-off bite, apply an ice pack or bathe with cool, salt water (use a teaspoon of salt to two mugs of water). And with multiple bites, a mild horse shampoo can help to remove irritating scurf or bacteria and cool the inflamed skin.
Get ready for spring with our nine-page competition clothing special in this week’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine (19 April 2018)
For all the latest equestrian news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday