Hello Friend and welcome back!
Today we talk about how to tell if your horse is overheating, what to do, and how to prevent it in the future.
Horses overheat for several reasons:
Lack of fitness
High heat and humidity (heat+humidity= >150 take caution)
Poor sweating ability
Breed (heavier breeds vs lighter breeds)
The main reason horses overheat are from working in too high heat and humidity conditions.
To tell if your horse is overheating the main thing to look for is their breathing.
Does their breathing seem heavier than normal? Shallow panting breaths that are not returning to normal? Your horse is probably overheating. This is the biggest indicator and easy to observe.
Next thing that can happen is they stop sweating. If your horse seems very dry for the amount of work they are doing and for the temperature they are probably overheating (especially if it’s coupled with the heavy breathing).
Lastly are they very warm to the touch? This one isn’t a red flag on its own but coupled with the others it’s all pointing to overheating.
You can also take their rectal temperature for a reading but we will not go over that in this video (you want it to be below 101).
To recap if you notice these symptoms:
1). Heavy breathing
2). Lack of sweating
3). Very hot to the touch
Your horse is definitely overheating and needs help.
What do you do?
1). STOP all work and untack the horse
2). Get the horse to a shady area with a fan if possible
3). Start hosing the horse with cool water all over
Keep hosing the horse all over their body, paying attention to big blood vessels in between their hind legs, belly, and neck.
Keep hosing for a solid 10 min or more if needed. DO NOT stop hosing to sweat scrape. It is more effective to cool the horse with continuous cool water than to stop to scrape it off of them.
Keep hosing until the horses breathing returns to normal and they start to feel cooler to the touch. (If taking their temperature you want the thermometer to read under 101).
Once their breathing has returned to normal and they are starting to feel cool (and their temperature is back to normal 99-101) you may stop hosing and sweat scrape excess water off.
The horse is allowed to drink cool water at any time they feel like it.
The horse should return to normal within an hour at most. If they do not, it is an emergency and call your vet.
Ways to prevent the horse from overheating in the future:
Check the weather and add the heat and humidity levels together anything over 150 is considered cautionary.
Each horse has a personal tolerance to heat and humidity so knowing your horses tolerance level is key as they might have trouble at a number lower than 150.
Just because it’s hot doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your horse, just take the following precautions:
1). Go slow, avoid strenuous exercise
2). Take a lot of breaks and work in a shady area if possible (trail ride?)
3). Offer water often (to you and your horse)
Get creative! Work on perfecting the walk with your horse (something that is overlooked in many rides with most people). Do groundwork to improve your relationship on the ground. Or have a spa session or grooming day.
I hope this helps! Stay cool out there!