Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Beat the Heat! Staying safe in the triple digits

If you don't live in a cave, you probably know that Texas gets hot in August. Those of you that live here especially know how scorching those triple digits days can be. What you might not know is how to keep you and your horses hydrated and at least not too miserable during the sweltering season that is summer. Here are some tips on how to keep horses and yourself healthy and safe when just standing makes you look like a pro athlete from all that sweat.

This one really can't be stressed enough. While you can drink too much water, it's very unlikely that you'll do so when you're in a southern summer. Remember that if you're thirsty, you're already a little dehydrated. For the horses, make sure that they have plenty of access to clean, fresh water in a shady area. When it's 100+ degrees, some horses don't have the energy to walk in the sun to drink hot water. You can find some other great facts about H2O here, on WebMD.com

2. Electrolytes
Ok, so sometimes water just isn't enough. When the heat index says it's going to be 95 degrees or higher, we give our horses just a pinch of electrolytes because sweat isn't just water, it's also salt and some sugars. If you're still feeling depleted after drinking a bottle of water (or two or three) then try drinking something like Gatorade which is designed to help you out when water can't.

3. Hose off
Sometimes horses are just soaked from the heat without even doing anything. Hosing them off with cool water, starting at the legs and slowly getting higher can help cool 'em off. Just remember to use a sweat scraper so all that water doesn't absorb those sunny rays and become insulation on your horses coat. For people....well Marion just gets cold water from the fridge and sprays us with her super soaker......not sure if I'd recommend that though....

4. Ice
Putting ice on a horses neck  (wrapped in a towel) is a quick cool off, especially if hosing them off doesn't seem to help any. For people, a towel dampened with very cold water and put on their neck and forehead works well. Using one of those gel neck-ties as prevention is even better.

5. Alcohol
In an emergency, keep in mind that alcohol's quick drying effects can cool off in a hurry. Not recommended for regular use though because it can also dry the horses' skin.

6. Food
We change our feed in the summer to lower the protein and high carb content because believe it or not just their food can make them even hotter. People - Even though you may not feel like eating because it's so hot, remember you still have to eat.

-Felecia West and Marion Cox

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