Horses and Heat

This summer is grueling. With temperatures reaching into the 100’s over most of the country, take special precautions to protect your horse from horse heat stroke.

The main question that equestrian owners have concerning weather is if they should keep their horses in the barn during a hot day or instead allow them to roam in the pasture. The answer to this question is not necessarily simple. While experts encourage owners to allow a horse to remain outside, there are some conditions in which the horse should be kept in the barn.

First, and just like any other pet, consider how your horse will fare during the hottest part of the day—mid- to late afternoon. For horses that remain outside, their bodies sweat just like any other animal—including us! This helps to keep their body temperature lower, which can keep them from getting heat stroke. Horses that are outside should have some shady areas. With enough shade, they can remain outside and get fresh air, while staying out of the direct sunlight.

However, sometimes a horse should be kept in a barn during the hottest part of the day. “Anhidrotic” horses, or horses that cannot sweat enough or can’t sweat at all, should always be kept indoors during hot days. Anhidrosis in horses can happen to any breed and at any point in your horse’s life. (So on hot days or during activity, notice if your horse has a dry or dryer coat). In addition to being kept inside, a horse with anhidrosis should also have cooling fans and misters, if possible.

Another condition in which a horse should be kept in the barn is when the horse has a skin or eye sensitivity. However, all horse owners should note that a barn environment doesn’t always have ideal conditions when it comes to the airways and breathing. A horse with a swollen throat may have a difficult time breathing in the barn. Also, keeping multiple horses in a barn, especially for several days, may increase the spread of any disease.

Overall, it is best to keep your horse outside on hot days, unless health needs dictate otherwise.

Do you have a horse? Do you keep it indoors or outdoors on very hot days? Share with us in the comments!

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