The most obvious need during the hot months of summer is, of course, water. Water functions as a cooling agent by encouraging sweating. If your horse is healthy and doing moderate work, it will require 30l of clean, fresh water a day. Foals and active horses need more. Water should always be available. Remember, too, that water intake will depend on the horse’s diet. Grass has very high water content (about 85%) and grazing horses will receive a lot of their water in this way. Most stabled horses, or horses in sandy paddocks, however, will require a constant supply of fresh water.
Summer is the show season. I try to take water from home to an event – this saves me from walking with heavy water buckets from one side of a venue to another. My fussy horse also prefers to drink water from home, out of its own water bucket, than from the showground trough. In addition, doing this helps to prevent my horse coming into contact with diseases.
If your horse will stand tied up, travel with two clean car tyres. Place them on top of one another and put the bucket in the middle. In this way, your horse won’t knock over the bucket ‘in transit’.It’s also not good for a hot, thirsty horse to finish a bucket of cold water. Rather let it drink a little at a time during the day.
Most horses can handle summer with ease and enjoy dozing in the sun. Some, however, prefer to have access to shade, especially at noon. A field shelter or tree will work well. Observe your horse and see where it prefers to stand and when – this will tell you if it likes shade or doesn’t mind the sun. Some horses have highly sensitive skins, especially in the muzzle area, and are in need of protection from the UV rays. I use ‘50 plus’ baby suntan lotion, or the zinc ointment that’s popular with cricketers. players.
Those pesky flies
Another reason to provide shade is that fewer flies congregate here than in the sun. If your horse has sensitive eyes, they will water in bright sunlight. This moisture attracts flies, which can cause irritation and infection. A fly mask that covers the whole head helps. Also, spray a natural fly repellent over your horse, at morning and at night – or six times a day with horses that are highly susceptible to insect bites.
Manage fly infestation in your yard. And watch your horse for any grazes or wounds. Flies can lay their eggs in wounds, resulting in maggots and secondary infection. Sweet itch is another sign of summer. This is the result of an allergy to the bites of certain midges, leading to itching that can become so severe it causes the skin to bleed.
Check your horse daily for signs of itching – especially the tail and mane – and treat straight away. A tea can be made from rosemary leaves, tea tree and lavender flowers and sponged over inflamed skin. Sweet itch rugs are also available, but remove them at night and groom your horse gently during the day. Horses are highly social and love being groomed together in the herd. The rug prevents this. Feed your horse 30g dried red clover once a day in summer. This will help to cleanse the blood.
Phone Kim Dyson on 082 888 6511