July 15, 2010
Do you know how to keep your horse healthy when you’re traveling in extreme heat?
There may be no more debilitating weather condition than extreme heat for man or beast. It drains energy, creates fatigue and can even cause certain organs of the body to malfunction or shut down.
With that thought in mind, it’s immensely important that every precaution be taken when transporting horses across the desert in the summer. In areas where air temperature can reach upward of 115 degrees, knowing what to do and how to do it is information that is crucial to desert hauling. Here are some suggestions for safe summer hauling.
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- If possible, try to do your hauling in the early morning or late at night, when temperatures are cooler.
- Be sure that you are not overly tired when you set out. After all, a mishap on the road would undoubtedly offset any advantage you might have had with night travel.
- Make sure that your horse is properly hydrated.
- Take a good supply of water with you, ensuring that your horses won’t refuse to drink the water that you offer them in a strange area because they don’t like the taste. Also, extra water is helpful if you find yourself in an area with no water during a breakdown.
- Combat “strange-tasting” water by adding a little flavoring to it, such as with apple juice or Gatorade.
- Use electrolytes when you are transporting during the heat. Start the horses on electrolytes a couple of days before the trip to allow the horse to get used to having them in the water.
Preparation is Key
- Make sure your trailer is clean and well-ventilated. Open all the vents and windows, and use screens, which will keep your horses from sticking their heads outside of the trailer. You can also put fly masks on to save your horses the aggravation of contending with insects the whole way.
- Have a trailer with good footing, such as rubber mats or rubber-coated lumber. The horses are always working as they ride, and this makes for good traction.
- Add wood chips to help with shock absorption. Avoid making your wood chips too deep, though. If you do, it will be hard to keep the trailer clean, and it is also hard for the horse to find balance if they’re too deep.
- Pack extra lead ropes, so if you have to unload the horses for any reason on the trip, you will have an adequate number in good working order.
Stay tuned for the last half of this story.
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Do you know what to do if you think your horse is colicking? Expand your equine health knowledge with AQHA’s Common Horse Health Issues report.