Beat the Heat! Tips for Keeping Your Horse Cool

horse hot cooling


When it is really hot outside, horses can sweat even when they are not working. Sweating is a mechanism for cooling the horse through evaporation. The horse’s body is covered in sweat glands meaning they can sweat a lot! The horse has huge muscles which during exercise can produce a great deal of heat quickly, and these need to cool down, and the horse uses sweating to do this. When it is very hot and humid, the horse will find it harder to cool down and may need extra help.

Tips for keeping your horse cool in the heat:

  1. Water

Always ensure your horses have access to fresh clean drinking water. Horses prefer to drink water at approximately 59oF – 68oF (15- 20oC), so no need to add ice.

  1. Shade

Ensure they always have access to shade.

  1. Electrolytes

If your horse is sweating, ensure you replace their electrolytes. Failure to replace water and electrolytes leads to dehydration, poor performance, fatigue and reduced stamina, but it can also be life-threatening. Just offering water is not enough, the electrolytes need to be replaced too, to ensure the thirst stimulus stays switched on.

Horses in light to moderate work, trotting and cantering, can lose as much as 5-7 litres of sweat, containing 50-70g (1.8oz- 2.5oz) of electrolytes in an hour. This will increase as the work intensity and duration increases, and even more if the weather is hot and humid. In more extreme weather conditions, it may be common for a horse to lose 12-18 litres of sweat and lose 120 to 180g (4.2oz – 6.3oz) of electrolytes. Apple Lytes contain a carefully balanced formulation of sodium, potassium, chloride, as well as magnesium and calcium to replace those lost electrolytes and support rehydration.

  1. Travel and Exercise

You might want to modify your exercise regime or travel plans to avoid the heat of the day. Ensure you have access to plenty of water for the horse to drink and for cooling.

  1. Cooling

Cool them off quickly after exercise or when the weather is very hot, by applying plenty of cool or cold water all over the body and keep repeating. Don’t worry about stopping to scrape, just keep reapplying water continuously until they have cooled down. Shade and fans can also be used alongside water cooling but prioritise water cooling.

  1. Sunburn

For those horses with pink skin, suncream may be required to prevent sunburn.

  1. Heat Exhaustion/ Heat Stroke

Watch out for signs of heat exhaustion/ heat stroke (very hot/ sweaty, fast breathing rate with nostril flaring and they may be ataxic (wobbly). If you have any concerns, start cooling with copious and continuous cool/ cold water over the whole body and call your Vet immediately.

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