Managing horses in warm to hot weather poses some challenges. Keeping horses healthy in hot weather requires management of flies, body temp, nutrition, water source and air quality. Sarah Judson of Sage and Spur Ranch in San Luis Obispo has some tips for every horse owner and describes the hot weather services her barn provides.
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Tips and Services for Keeping Horses Healthy in Hot Weather
#1 Control Flies
Warm weather heats up the fly population so having a plan to manage the flies is important. Flies feed off horse’s eye tears and bite the conjunctiva in the process leading to irritation and inflammation. In addition, flies carry bacteria, viruses and parasites. Vesticular Stomatitis, can transmitted by flies, nose-to-nose contact plus communal water and feed equipment. This disease has made its appearance in SLO County.
Fly Control Strategies
To help keep flies off the horses, every horse wears a fly mask during the day at SLO Sage and Spur Ranch. Fly spray is also applied to every horse in the high-touch service offered in the main barn twice a day. “Every horse has a fly spray bottle so it’s convenient to spray them morning and night.”
In addition, fly blankets or sheets are put on in the morning before turn out and taken off once the horse is returned to the barn for the evening. Fly leggings are also used on horses with fly sensitivity on their legs.
Sarah shares her experience in features and fit of a horse fly mask. The Velcro closure is important, as well as the ease of putting the fly mask on the horse. For horses in high-dust areas she recommends a mask with fine mesh to help reduce dust irritation as well as fly irritation. Her favorite is the pull-on fly mask, especially if you want to cover the ears.
Other fly control strategies employed at Sage and Spur Ranch are composting the manure and using fly predators.
#2 Provide Shade, or a Cool Barn and Plenty of Water
Horses need a way of getting out of the direct heat and sunlight with some type of shelter. Whether it’s a basic pole shelter, a tree or a sophisticated barn – cool air flow and shade are very important.
In addition, an ample supply of clean, fresh water is vital in warm to hot conditions. “We make sure every horse is drinking clean water,” remarks Sarah. “We clean the algae out of the buckets and make sure the automatic waters are cleaned regularly.”
All horses, whether working or idle, need a salt source all year round. Sarah’s favorite is the Himalayan salt lick, as horses seem to lick them more regularly.
#3 Cautiously Ride Your Horse in Hot Weather
Both horses and humans can experience heat exhaustion. Adjust your riding time to be early morning or evening when the outside temperature is cooler. Cool horses after a ride with cool water especially in the high-sweat areas. Sarah has other tips in this video.
#4 Evaluate the Air Quality Before You Ride
Warm, hot weather can also mean wildfires, especially in California. Wildfires can impact the air quality which should be considered before riding for both the horse and rider’s health safety.
You Can Help Keep Your Horse Healthy in Hot Weather
Many areas of SLO County record temps over 100 degrees through the summer and even in September and October. Managing horses in warm to hot weather requires focusing on flies, body temp, nutrition, water and air quality. Use Sarah’s tips for keeping horses healthy in hot weather. Sarah and her team are also here to be sure your horse is happy and healthy at SLO Sage and Spur Ranch in south San Luis Obispo.
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