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First Posted July 6, 2010
Jul 26, 2010

Horses and Hot Weather

by Dr. Shea Porr, Volume 4, Number 7, July 2010, Newsletter: Virginia Equine Extension, Northern Virginia

"...With the rising temperatures come concerns for us and our animals. Make sure your horses have adequate fresh, clean water and access to shade. It doesn't have to be a barn - a lean-to or a good stand of trees can do the trick. Also, make sure there's a source of salt for them. They're pretty good about regulating their salt intake to get what they need, and if they're sweating it out in the hot sun, they'll be losing salt more quickly than normal. If your horses have pink flesh under their white spots, they may sunburn. Watch for it, and if their skin seems to become inflamed or if it starts peeling, put some zinc oxide (face) or other protection (light sheet) on them.

Also, keep in mind the temperature and humidity when you're working or riding. The "Misery Index" can be measured in a variety of ways, but one quick method is to add the temperature and humidity together.

The Misery Index

To factor The Misery Index add the outside temperature and the humidity together.
  • If the total is less than 130 and the humidity is under 75%, you're golden. If the humidity is over 75%, keep an eye on your horse and don't overdo it.
  • If the total is between 130 and 150, be cautious and make sure to adequately cool the horse down after exercise.
  • If the total is between 150-170, you want to be even more cautious and take plenty of cooling breaks, offering the horse water if you're going to continue.
  • If it's over 170, the horse's natural cooling mechanisms are almost useless. You should really consider waiting until it's cooler before working the horse.

So, take your time, stay cool, and enjoy the warmth and sunshine!"


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