Don’t Restrict Horses to Shelters in Hot Conditions

Horses in hot climates might not be as shade- and shelter-dependent as expected.
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Greene found that while horses seek shade and decrease activity with increased temperature-heat indices and solar radiation, the overall quantity of time spent near shade was relatively small. | Photo: iStock

Common sense might say that if horses in hot, sunny conditions have access to a shade structure, they’ll use it. However, horses in these environments might not be a shelter-dependent as owners would think.

Betsy Greene, MS, PhD, professor and equine extension specialist at the University of Arizona, and colleagues recently conducted a study to find out how much time horses spent in the shade in desert conditions. She presented their findings at the 2019 Equine Science Society Symposium, held June 3-6 in Asheville, North Carolina.

The University of Arizona’s (UA) Campus Agricultural Center is home to an approximately 70-horse training and research herd. Until recently, said Greene, the desert facility’s paddocks didn’t have shade structures, which led to an outpouring of concern from the surrounding suburban community. So, in 2016 UA added shelters to its pens

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Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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