Cooling Overheated Horses

I am concerned about exercising my horse in hot weather. What can I do to make sure my horse is properly cooled out?

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Cooling Overheated Horses
After the competition, you want to make sure that your horse has shade and a bath with cold water. Be sure to look for any signs of stress, including a high heart rate. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

Q: With summer upon us, I am concerned about exercising my horse in hot weather. What can I do to make sure my horse is properly cooled out? Are there steps I can take before, during, and after exercise?

A: There are many variables involved in this question. The answer depends on how much exercise your horse will undertake and how strenuous the exercise is. Also, it is necessary to consider how hot the external temperature is. Other considerations include how fit the horse is and how the horse is going to be used. Is he going to be asked to do work beyond what he normally does?

There are some basic things you can do to make sure that your horse does not overheat during the summer. Your horse should be fit. If your horse is in good condition and if you have been exercising him on a regular basis as spring has progressed into summer and the temperatures have steadily risen, then you probably have been preparing him for summer exercise. This type of regimen should have acclimated him to the heat and to the type of environment in which he must work

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Written by:

Catherine Kohn, VMD, currently at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, serves as United States Equestrian Team veterinarian and was the FEI veterinary delegate at the U.S. Olympics in 1996 and at Rolex Kentucky in 1998.

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