07 Jan Top tips for feeding horse during summer
The Australian summer heat can really take on your horse, particularly if strong bushfires take over. Even during typical heat conditions in Australia, you need to make sure that your horse remains as comfortable as possible. In this article, we address how you can keep your horse happy and healthy during summer.
Here’s a list of our top 10 tips:
- Use an appropriate feed
- Give your horse plenty of water
- Add salt/electrolytes to your horse’s diet
- Provide plenty of shade
- Install a cooling system
- Make sure you horse gets plenty of exercise
- Use less tack
- Provide extra bedding
- Control flies
- Apply sunscreen
Your horse’s dietary requirements will change throughout the year, meaning you will need to make the right adjustments during summer as well. Grass and hay is the best way to go, as they won’t make your horse’s body heat rise as oat and corn, for example. Horses also enjoy snacking on freshly watered pasture, so this is an excellent opportunity to let yours roam around and get some exercise.
This one may seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget. About 60% of your horse’s body weight is water, and they’ll need more of it during summer than any other season during the year. Aim to provide yourself with anywhere between 40 and 60 litres of water per day. Speaking of water, taking your horse for a swim is another way to keep it cool during the harsh Australian summer.
Horses lose lots of minerals and electrolytes when they produce extra sweat during the year’s warmer months. That’s why it’s important to replace these. To do this, you can add a salt lick in a holder near your horse’s feed, and you can add electrolytes to your horse’s water supply as well.
Outdoor temperatures under shade and out in the sun differ significantly. Make sure your horse has a cool and covered area where it can take shelter. If you don’t have any shelter then it will be important to build one.
A great way to provide the ultimate living conditions for your horse during summer is to install a cooling system where its shade is. A misting system may just be one of the best forms of cooling systems you can provide your horse with during summer. To increase its effectiveness, place a large fan somewhere nearby to make the misting system more effective and to increase airflow.
Keeping your horse fit is important all year round, especially during summer. An overweight horse will produce additional body heat, which is the last thing it needs during the already demanding weather conditions. Take your horse out for some exercise before 9am, during a cooler part of the day when there is also plenty of sunlight.
Use less tack when you prepare your horse for a trip during summer. Your horse doesn’t need as much padding under the saddle and light leg boots. An even better idea is to use cooling leg boots! Avoid blanketing your horse when you’re travelling. A lighter load means a cooler, happier horse.
Soft, deep bedding is a must this time of year. The ground can be hard and hot in Australia, especially during the summer. Deep wood shavings in a cool, shady spot allow your horse to lie down and rest comfortably.
Annoying pests like flies are attracted to horse sweat and manure. Flies are at their worst during summer and they are a common cause of irritation and sores. Invest in a fly mask for your horse, though you should also talk to a manure disposing service, as manure is a favourite breeding ground for flies.
Horses can get sunburned just like humans, so make sure to slip, slop and slap some sunscreen on your horse during summer. White horses and those with hairless patches are the most exposed to the sun’s harsh rays. Keeping your horse under shade is the best way to avoid sunburn, though if your horse really wants to soak in some sun then rubbing some sunscreen over your horse is the best solution.