SAFETY TIPS FOR RIDING IN THE HEAT
With the coming Alabama summer, we and our horses need a little extra TLC to keep all safe. As part of my competitive trail riding group, NATRC, we all work very hard to keep our horses hydrated and safe. I’m sharing some of our more experienced riders’ tips. There are, of course, many more ideas and perhaps you have found a unique way to help your horses. If so, please share with us.
1. Black horses are more susceptible to heat. Keep this in mind when you trailer, tie in the sun, etc.
2. ANYTHING you can do to help your horse drink is a big plus! I sometimes throw a piece of apple in a tub or stream and Skyy has learned to “bob” for the treat AND get his face in the water.
3. Whenever there is water, offer your horse some time to drink. Getting your fellow riders to stop with you in a big incentive for all horses to stop. No horse wants to be left behind!
4. Braiding the horses mane AND tail helps to create better air flow and generates cooling. I know most guys don’t like braiding (????) but you can at least band the major hair portions.
5. Although products like Show Sheen make your horse pretty, these products coat the hair and therefore trap the heat.
6. Keep a large sponge with a tie rope on your saddle. A wet sponge on the neck, large leg muscles helps a LOT!
7. When you take a break, loosen or remove your saddle. It’s like taking your coat off!
8. Hydrating your horse the night before is a huge step in the right direction. A number of us use a soupy mash (could have beet pulp, small handful of a sweet feet, Gatorade, apple juice, etc. There are electrolytes you can use but do so cautiously — giving a dehydrated horse electrolytes without access to water can be a very dangerous thing.
9. Give horses time/chance after the ride to eat a little grass and chill before the ride home.
10. Keep in mind that hauling saddled horses after a ride does not allow them to cool off. NO trailer is as cool as we would like. And, after all, they took care of you on the ride, you take care of them after the ride. A hot horse is twice as stressed in the trailer going home.
Offered by Sandy Pegram, Alabama Horse Council Board member for 16 years.