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Equine Heat Stress

By Clare Sapire

 

We may tend to forget that a lot of the horses that are here in the U.A.E. are imported and once here take a long time to settle into the weather.

Dubai also doesn’t have the freezing cold temperatures in winter , yes temperatures may drop over night but during the day and at times when exercising horses we still tend to have high temps.

When going through a great deal of physical exertion, the body of a horse may be unable to properly regulate the temperature of the body- this type of exertion can mainly relate to endurance horses here within the U.A.E.

Keep in mind that if your horse is not a working horse or a race horse, it can still suffer from heat stress.
When electrolytes are lost through sweat, important vitamins and minerals are lost as well. This can lead to bad blood circulation and even blood thickening, which is never a good thing. Small salt licks in the stable can play a vital role in this.

If you suspect that your horse may not be getting enough water in the hot months, do the pinch test. Pinch a fold of skin and observe whether or not the skin remains pulled up. Also, another great way of testing that is to put some pressure against your horses’ gums. When you let go, there should be a white spot that is slowly filled in with the normal pink color. If not, consider the fact that your horse may not have enough fluids and take corrective actions.

Horses have the ability to benefit from four different kinds of thermo regulation vehicles. First and foremost is the ability to have more blood flow to the skin. Radiation is another mode of thermo regulation. It refers to the amount of sunshine the animal absorbs.

To help your horse to get acclimated to different weather conditions, it is wise to give them about a week. During this time you will be able to lightly increase the amount of excerise  until it reaches the intensity you desire, dependent on the time of the season, what you are planning on achieving with your horse and if you will be competing, bare in mind to be reasonable with shows if your horse is new to the environment and needs to settle, first show seasons can be lighter work and second can be slightly more intense.

If you must work your horses hard when it’s very hot, try to schedule your session for early morning or late evening when it is cooler.

Mid to late summer weather often means that grass growth slows down and pasture quality declines. Make sure your horse is getting enough fodder and consider supplementing with hay if necessary. Horses need energy to stay warm and cool. Adjust your feed mixture if your horse begins to lose condition in hot weather.

Remember horses are not machines they too have a lifespan and so we need to always remember that they are our priority,  without the horse we will have no ride, so take the extra time and effort to really remember this when caring for and riding your horse.

(sunblock and shades on)….. till next time..

 

Clare.

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