This summer has been one for the record books. To say it’s been a hot one would be a mild understatement at best. Parts of the country have experienced record high temperatures as well as little to no rain. Some experts are comparing our current weather patterns and conditions to the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s.These hot, drought-like conditions lead to all sorts of problems; some are minor and some are very serious, especially for horses.

Did you know that a horse can sweat up to four gallons of water and electrolytes per hour when it is hot out? In hot weather, dehydration and heat-induced illnesses become serious health concerns for a horse. The best way to avoid any dehydration-related problems is to provide plenty of fresh, cool water; some shade and a salt lick don’t hurt either. Don’t forget to add nutritional supplements to your horses’ daily feed, too.  You’ll want to make sure their bodies are getting as many nutrients as they are sweating out.

During droughts, it is common for natural sources of water like streams, creeks and ponds to dry out. This presents a problem since the little remaining water can pool up and become stagnant. Obviously, you don't want your horses drinking this unhealthy water, full of bacteria and parasites. Try to do your best in keeping your horses away from these sources of stagnant water by providing plenty of fresh water.

Keep an eye on your horse’s weight. Plants generally don’t grow during a drought which can lead to a shortage in quality green vegetation for your horses to eat. Your horses may not be receiving the appropriate amount of nutrition from the pasture. Supplement their pasture diet with quality hay and feed.

During droughts and the resulting decline in desirable forages, horses may be forced to consume less palatable plants. Try to minimize their access to these plants since some may be toxic to the horse. Horses prefer to eat green plants even if they are fed hay so be careful with how much contact they have with toxic plants and weeds while out in pasture. Fencing these problem areas off can provide an immediate solution; however, the toxic plants should be killed or removed to completely eliminate the threat of poisoning.

Worms are trouble year round but can be an even bigger problem during drought-like conditions. During a drought, when a horse may not be able to get the full allotment of necessary nutrients, worms steal valuable vitamins and minerals from the horse. They can also damage the animal’s gut which limits the horse’s ability to absorb vital nutrients. A consistent worming program can help keep these parasites in check.

Droughts often create dusty and dry conditions. All that dust blowing about can irritate your horses’ eyes. Often these are minor annoyances for the horse but an eye full of dust can sometimes scratch the cornea creating a real health concern. A good fly mask can help protect their eyes from sand, dirt, dust and other air-borne debris.

Record high temperatures and drought-like conditions can’t and don’t last forever. Although they are often stressful for both horse and owner, they are nothing to get too worked up over as long as you understand how your animals are affected by the inhospitable environment and know how to protect them from the hot, dry weather. The key to managing your stable of horses during these harsh conditions is to be fully prepared.


Help keep your horse healthy in hot conditions with electrolytes! 


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