Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dr. Madalyn Ward, DVM, Offers Advice On Horse Care & The Heat;Humidity

First, you should calculate the temperature-humidity index( THI) and all you do is add the air temperature, in degrees F., to the percentage of humidity, for example, if the air temperature is 80 degrees F., and the humidity is 60%, the THI is 140. When the THI gets to 150, your horse might have trouble cooling off. A THI of 180 and you should NOT work your horse at all and take immediate action to cool him down!

Another thing you can do is check your horse`s temperature. Their normal body temperature should be between 99.5 and 100.5, but can reach 103 or 104 during exercise and workouts. If your horse`s temperature gets to 105, he is in danger of being overheated and may suffer chronic or permanent damage.
If his temperature is above 105, your horse will be suffering from heatstroke, and will need to get to a vet (or vet-called out) immediately!

Some things you can do to prevent overheating is to provide plenty of cool water as a horse at rest will consume at least 10 gallons or more a day. Avoid automatic waterers as they only let the horse sip, not gulp the water. Provide a well-ventilated shade/stall and put a fan in the stall to keep the air moving. Always cool your horse before and after workouts by hosing him off with cool water.

Don`t bathe horses who have trouble sweating, but rather, sponge them with air-temperature water mixed with a liniment like Sore No More. Provide the right horse feed and research what are considered ‘heated feeds’ as well as you don`t want to feed a lot of hay during hot weather as this will make your horse even hotter, because of the digestive process.

Try adding Simplexity Health or Pro-Bi to help their tummy and also try cooling foods, like apples, citrus foods, barley grass, lemon balm, fresh peppermint or cilantro. Also consider your horse`s fitness and environment as well-conditioned horses will do better in hot, humid weather than out-of-shape horses.


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