Every season has its concerns for horse owners, but summer can push many horse care experts to the limit when it comes to keeping horses cool, fly-free, and hydrated. Whether you’re caring for one horse or thirty, these tips can help keep you sane when summer management demands even more time and energy.
Some horses are like people, and no matter what you do, it seems like they always end up sunburnt. Horses with light-colored coats or white markings on their faces (especially on the muzzle and around the eyes) are more likely to burn when out in the sun. You can protect your horse from sunburn by applying sunscreen to the body parts that most often burn. A high SPF sunscreen works best, mainly if it contains zinc, as it will last longer and be less likely to rub off. It may be beneficial to leave a note for employees of which horses require sunscreen and how often it should be applied if you manage multiple horses.
Fly season is dreaded by every horse owner and manager. There are endless articles on managing flies in your barn, and it’s worth taking some time to read a few if your current fly management system isn’t working. While flies are annoying for humans to work around, can you imagine being a horse who is constantly being assaulted by these winged pests? Not to mention, flies can transmit a variety of diseases!
Applying fly spray and using fly gear such as fly sheets and boots can be an excellent first step to protecting the horses in your care. Not to mention, many of these items can help prevent sunburn or coat bleaching while a horse is out in the sun! Around your facility, consider using fly predators, picking stalls more than usual to reduce manure that attracts flies, hanging traps, and adding fans to keep the air circulating.
Turnout in summer is another crucial factor in keeping your horses healthy. When possible, turn horses out during the cooler periods of the day or overnight. For horses outside during the hottest part of the day, be sure there is shade (either naturally through trees or a manufactured structure such as a run-in shed) where horses can go to get out of the sun. Be extra vigilant about keeping water tubs full, as many horses will play in troughs in the summer to cool down and be left with nothing to drink! This leads to the next tip. . .
On average, a horse will drink 5-10 gallons of water per day, and this number only increases in hot weather! Horses in your care should always have access to clean water, so during the summer, when gross algae grow quicker than usual, it’s essential to keep a schedule to ensure waterers and troughs stay clean so horses aren’t turned off from drinking.
If your horses are being exercised during hot summer weather, be sure they are cooled off properly and offered water after each working session. Electrolytes can also help increase water consumption and replace water and minerals lost while sweating. While you can’t easily track water intake with automatic waterers, buckets and troughs can be monitored, and during sweltering weather, it’s wise to do so. Catching a horse not drinking enough early on can stop a variety of serious issues from arising.
While adding in these seasonal management practices may seem overwhelming (especially if you’re responsible for a larger facility), a barn management tool such as Stable Secretary can simplify the process. With the ability to create records for every horse in your barn, you can track who needs specific fly gear, which horse requires sunscreen, how much horses are drinking, and any changes to turnout schedules – and you can easily communicate them to your employees all from the app!
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