It’s been very hot and humid at the ranch over the past month, and it’s important to keep the horses cool and make sure they drink enough water to keep them safe and healthy. People have asked how we are able to keep the horses safe during this heat, so we wanted to let everyone know what we are doing to keep everyone cool.
Cool Water Baths
One easy way to keep the horses cool is by rinsing them during the day. This helps bring down their body temperature and help prevent them from losing too many electrolytes by sweating. When rinsing horses, however, it’s important that they not be left in the sun to dry, but are allowed to dry in the shade. Some horses even like to take an extra drink directly from the hose!
Horses need four major electrolytes- Sodium Chloride, Potassium, Magnesium and Calcium. Sodium Chloride, otherwise known as salt, is the only electrolyte combination that horses cannot get naturally through their feed. We feed the horses small amounts of electrolytes everyday in their grain, even during the wintertime. During the summer, we increase the electrolytes that we feed, as the horses can lose electrolytes not only through exercise but simply through sweating.
Although we do feed small amounts of electrolytes, they are not enough to provide all of the sodium chloride they require. Therefore, we offer the horses two different types of salt blocks- one that is just sodium chloride (white in color), and one Himalayan salt block that has a natural combination of electrolytes. We have a small Himalayan salt block in the feeders, and a separate 50 pound salt block. Both of these are cleaned every week so they are not dusty and dirty- horses often will not use salt blocks if they are covered in dirt. Although we can’t *make* the horses use the salt blocks, we can do everything possible to ensure that they have easy access to them.
One very easy way to ensure the horses are not overheated is to only exercise them in the mornings or evenings when it is cooler. During excessive heat waves when there is little abatement of the oppressive heat even during the evening, we do not work the horses at all.
Hanaeleh has been speaking to contractors about putting in misters along each of the stalls- these put off a light mist that the horses can stand under that will help reduce their temperature. Areas with misters can be up to 10-15 degrees lower!