When the sun beckons, your first thought is probably to spend as much time outside as possible. After all, it’s finally the season for beaches, picnics, and long walks – and, of course, there’s nothing more pleasant than riding your favourite route with your horse when there isn’t a cloud in the sky.

But whether your horse is out and about or staying in the stables, it’s important to remember that their needs will change when it’s warm and sunny. We’ve put together some summer horse care tips to help you keep your equine friend safe and happy – leaving you to enjoy the summer with peace of mind.

Dehydration in horses

Horses tend to drink 5-10 gallons of water a day – towards the higher end when it’s particularly warm.

No matter what the time of year, they should always have a source of fresh drinking water available, so they can take in water whenever they need to – but this is especially important during summer. You may want to check their water supply more regularly, to ensure they haven’t run out. Troughs may be more likely to harbour algae or the water turn stagnant when it is warm, so cleaning it out regularly is also important.

Without enough water, your horse can become ill, and this is more likely in the summer. So, to avoid dehydration in horses, ensure they’re getting enough water (adding apple juice is always helpful for those that aren’t so keen to remain hydrated) – and contact your vet if they’re showing any signs of dehydration.

Sunburn in horses

Like us, horses can suffer from sunburn. Methods of avoiding sunburn in horses are similar as well. First of all, ensure they have enough shade if they’re out in the field (for example under some trees) – this can also help keep the flies away. If your horse has a pink nose, it’s imperative you apply suncream to it every day (aim for factor 50 for maximum protection.) Additionally, a UB-protection fly mask might help them in the field, although this won’t be necessary in the stable.

Signs of sunburn include peeling skin or red patches; treat these with Sudocrem as soon as you can to stop them getting worse or becoming infected. Ask your vet for more details.

General summer horse care

As well as ensuring your horse has enough water and avoids sunburn, there are lots of things you can do to make their life more comfortable when it gets hot.

  • Flies can be a real problem in the summer, so a fly rug is a good option – they’ll also ensure your horse doesn’t get too hot as the mesh material allows a breeze through and any excess heat to leave the body.
  • A good quality fly repellent will always help to keep the pests away. Your local tack shop will have a good range and will be able to advise, especially if your horse is particularly sensitive to bites and so on.
  • Horses can suffer from hay fever too! If your horse has a seasonal allergy, it could be caused by any number of things. If you know what triggers your horse’s hay fever (such as rapeseed or blossom), the solution can be as simple as avoiding these things. If you’re unsure, contact your vet for help who can prescribe something to help.
  • As usual, ensure your horse has plenty of fresh hay, and that any fresh fruit or vegetables you’ve given them haven’t gone bad in the warmth. And keep supplying them with their favourite Animalife supplements, to help keep them feeling great.

Summer horse care doesn’t have to be difficult – a few simple changes will make both your lives easier. Let us know if you have any other tips in the comments below!