This educational article is brought to you by Standlee Hay Company, the Official Forage of the USEA.
After just a mile of riding, your horse creates enough warmth to boil 2 whole gallons of water. While a horse’s body can usually regulate their temperature, the hot summer months make this more difficult. High temperatures, high humidity, lack of air movement, poor ventilation, and dehydration all increase the dangers of a serious heat-related problem known as heat stress.
Most horses adapt to summer weather if given time to adjust gradually. However, some horses will be more susceptible to heat stress than others. Performance horses such as Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds, and endurance and other performance horses will be influenced by heat stress during their training and competition.
Environmental factors can also play a role in how susceptible your horse is to heat stress. Horses stabled in badly ventilated barns will produce a lot of heat during digestion, making them more prone to heat stress. Additionally, any horse that doesn’t have access to salt and electrolytes will be at a greater risk.
Your forage can also contribute to heat stress in your horse. Certain feeds create more heat when digested than others. During hot conditions, it’s important to include highly digestible fiber sources such as beet pulp to decrease the thermal load of digestion. Standlee Premium Western Forage offers a variety of excellent quality forage products, which provide increased digestibility. Click here to learn more.