Horse Facts About Horse Care
The average Joe doesn’t know beans about caring for a horse. Horses need a lot of space, a lot of food, and a lot of TLC. A horse isn’t like a dog that you can keep in your living room or garage, feed once or twice a day out of a soup can or with table scraps, and use a pooper scooper for tiny piles. And when extreme weather conditions enter the picture, a horse owner must know how to take care of that beautiful, expensive equine.
Let’s look at some simple horse facts about caring for your horse in extreme weather:
If you own a horse and if you live anywhere in the U.S.A. that has extremely cold winters AND extremely hot summers, then you probably do keep a watchful eye on your best furfriend all year round. If you’re in the far regions of South America or Australia, then you’re protecting him right now from the blast of winter. Here in northern U.S.A., we’re having extreme heat and humidity for days on end, a VERY dangerous weather pattern for horses. But first let’s discuss how to get your horse through the winter.
If you do live anywhere that has rough-and-tough snowy winters, are you tough and brave enough to ride him in the bitter cold weather? One thing you must remember is to make sure he’s not put in the barn with sweat all over him. Yes, a horse will sweat from a good run, even in the cold weather. Once you untack him, he needs to be wiped clean, groomed, covered with a warm blanket, and put out of the wind or drafts. And make sure he has a nice thick layer of sawdust and/or straw in his stall to keep his feet warm. And give him a little bit of a grain and hay snack to help keep him warm as he snoozes. Horses are proned to pneumonia, which can kill them in the blink of a lazy eye. So don’t neglect your horse in the winter months.
Now about the summer months. Hot, humid weather can be very dangerous for a horse, especially an older one. On days when the temp reaches the 90s and the humidity causes the heat index to reach 100, a wise equestrian will do his best to shelter his horse from the relentless heat:
1. Lock him in the barn. DON’T let him stand out in the sun.
2. If you have to ride him in the heat of the day, DON’T run him, and don’t ride him long. Keep him in the shade as much as possible.
3. Wet him down often with cool water and bug juice. (Horse flies are more vicious in hot weather, and they can suck the strength out of your horse if he gets numerous bites.)
4. Make sure he has lots of fresh, cool water to drink.
5. Don’t feed him grain during the day. Grain is a heat producer.
Years ago, my older and most favorite horse, Rex, scared the wits out of me. On a hot summer day, I looked out in the pasture to see if he was standing in his stall. (It was an open stall of which he could go in and out).But Rex wasn’t in the barn. He was in the small corral, stretched out on his side and not moving a muscle.
I went bonkers and ran to him, thinking he was dead. Thankfully, he hadn’t died, but he was drenched in sweat and not moving. I immediately called the vet, who told me that Rex was having a heat stroke. The vet said I needed to get Rex up on his feet, wet him down, and walk him slowly for a while.
Following the vet’s advice, I got Rex aroused, and to make a long story short, he recovered.
After that incident, Rex NEVER had the option to walk out of his stall on a hot, humid day. I made sure he was in the shade with fresh cool water thereafter, and he lived to be the ripe old age of 27.
So, if you have the good fortune of having a horse, pamper him in the cold and the heat and give him a long, happy life with his best bud.