How To Prevent Heat Stress In Your Horse

Heat stress happens when your horse cannot control his internal temperature. It can result in health issues, one of which could be sudden death. Heat stress is much like heat stroke in other animals or humans, and should be taken very seriously. See below for tips to prevent heat stress in your horse.

Risk Factors For Heat Stress

There are a number of risk factors that can attribute to heat stress including:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Size
  • Out-of-shape
  • Color
  • Trailered horses
  • Humidity levels outside

These risk factors may mean that your horse could be at a greater risk of getting heat stress. Be sure to keep an eye on your horse for signs of heat stress if he has any of these risk factors.

Signs To Watch For

If you notice your horse is acting differently, such as a decrease in activity level, or has collapsed, it's important to contact your local equine hospital or veterinarian right away. Other signs to look for include: skin is hot to the touch, an elevated rectal temperature, shallow breathing, dark urine, or is sweating profusely are all signs to look out for. 

What You Should Do

If you suspect heat stress in your horse, there are things you can do to help cool down your horse to allow his temperature to get back to normal.

  1. Move your horse to a cool area or to a shaded area.
  2. Spray your horse with cold water.
  3. Wipe the water off, then re-spray, continuing to do this until your horses temperature is in a normal range.
  4. Use a fan pointed at your horse to help keep him cool.
  5. Give your horse water that is filled with electrolytes to keep him hydrated.

You should also call the veterinarian to have him looked over, even if his temperature returns to normal.

Prevention Tips

Preventing heat stress is important to ensure your horse doesn't have the issues associated with heat stress.

  • Reduce time out working when the humidity or temperature outside is high. Ride your horse in the early morning or later in the evening when it isn't quite as hot.
  • Always give water to your horse, don't restrict water. Add electrolytes to help with hydration.
  • Provide shade to your horse, even if it's a tree so your horse can take a break from the sun.

Take good care of your horse and keep an eye out for signs of heat stress. If you notice any signs at all, contact the veterinarian, such as at Alabama Performance Horse Services, right away.

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