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Summer months get hot, and you don’t want to find yourself with an overheated horse. Learning how to see the signs of heat exhaustion and how to treat the symptoms will keep your horse happy and healthy all summer long. 

Signs Of An Overheated Horse

Whether it’s from exercise, lack of shade, or intense summer heat, horses can be negatively affected by heat. Young, old, and ill horses are at the highest risk, so pay special attention to their body language. Some signs that your horse might be overheated include:

  • Rapid breathing

    • It’s normal for rapid breathing after exercising, but if it is post cool-down period, they are probably uncomfortable from heat.
  • Unusually High Temperatures

    • If your horse has a temperature of 102 degrees (F) or higher after cooling down from exercising, call your veterinarian.
  • Dehydration

    • Try gently pinching the skin along your horse’s neck between your fingers. Then, watch closely as you release. If the pinched skin is slow to return back to normal after you let go, your horse is dehydrated.
  • Excessive Sweating

    • Horses cool themselves down in the summer heat by sweating. Factors such as how fit your horse is, age, and more will determine how much your horse sweats, it will differ. If your horse looks like it is sweating more often in a higher volume, your overheated horse needs to be cooled down.
  • Weakness & Disinterest

    • An overheated horse will feel tired and weak. If you notice strange behaviors such as your horse standing while not interacting with the surrounding area, a weak-looking gait, or refusing to eat, start looking into other symptoms.

How To Treat Your Overheated Horse

When it comes to good horse care, setting up a comfortable environment is the first step. Providing a variety of natural and human-made shade options will give your horse a place to rest comfortably during hot summer heat. In addition, making cool water available at all times for your horse will allow them to stay hydrated.

If you can see your overheated horse needs care, first lead them to a shaded area where they are comfortable. Then hose them off with cool water. Make sure it’s not ice cold, this will be shocking and uncomfortable to their system. As you’re covering your horse in cool water, gently scrape off the water as you go. This will take away the hot water that collects on them and allow them to sweat, aiding the cool-down process. 

Not Sure If Your Horse Is Okay?

If your horse doesn’t appear to be getting better after cooling them down and offering cool water in a shaded area for a bit, call your vet to seek professional advice. Explain your horse’s symptoms, what you have done to treat them, and ask for the next step. 

Preparing shaded areas and water are important for your horse’s happiness and health, so make sure to prepare for the hot months in your area. Make sure to keep an eye on how your horse is behaving, and check for signs of overheating if your horse is behaving unusually. Your horse will thank you!

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