Heat and the Horse

By January 16, 2019 Uncategorized

In this blog I summarise my three Heat Series YouTubes today as they are all now released.  This is a summary of all 3, and for more info you need to watch the video’s!!

Part 1

The horse is a large animal with much athletic ability, and they do this using a huge muscle mass.  As they convert their stored energy, 70 – 80% of that energy is converted to heat, which all together means horses carry a heat load of about 2-3 X that of a human.

They also have an unfavourable Surface Area: Mass ratio, and need to sweat 4 X per unit of surface area than humans.

Part 2

Heat stress/exhaustion is a very dangerous thing for the horse, and can lead to death without intervention.  Signs include;

  • Temperature 40 0C or over
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle cramping
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased respiration or breathing rate (heavy rapid breathing after exercise is more likely to be related to heat dissipation than ‘being out of breath’.
  • Tying up
  • Thumps or SDF

Part 3

If the weather is hot, then use the following guidelines to determine whether or not to ride.  Is your horse;

  • In great health,
  • Drinking well and well hydrated,
  • On a diet with balanced electrolytes, and
  • Acclimitised to and trained in the heat.

If you can’t tick these boxes, then ride only when it is cooler.

If you are comfortable that your horse is ok to ride in heat, or you are training for heat then

Minimise use of boots

Minimise transport – or ensure transport has adequate air flow/air conditioning.  If you need to transport allow time for horse to rehydrate when arriving at destination prior to riding.

Train your horse to drink isotonic solution, for effective rehydration following ride

Monitor your horses temperature


The BEST currently known cooling method is to place your horse in front of fans and in shade (ad lib for trees and a breeze if needed).  Douse your horse in large volumes of cold water, constantly sponging or hosing the water over the whole horses body.  Ideally to cool the most effectively  the horse is as completely covered as possible in the cold water – iced water is even better!!.


For more information, watch the video!



Tracy Whiter

Author Tracy Whiter

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