HI Spy: How do you beat the heat at the barn?

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    Learn how to keep your horse cool in the summerBy now you’ve probably stashed away your horse’s heavyweight blankets and your insulated riding boots. The trees are budding, the flowers are blooming, and the perfect, warm spring days are upon us.

    Of course, this just means that the sweltering days of summer are right around the corner.

    Long, summer days provide ample warmth and daylight hours for extended trail rides or training sessions. In most parts of North America, the summer months are prime competition season when riders want their horses to be in peak condition. At the same time, heat and humidity can pose more of a threat to your horse’s health and well-being than even the most miserable winter conditions. Enjoying summer’s weather while still ensuring the health of your horse and yourself takes careful planning.

    What do you do to make sure your horse doesn’t get overheated in the middle of a long trail ride? What’s your secret for dealing with hot, dusty arenas during mid-July training sessions? And it’s not just about the horses. We want to know how you keep yourself cool and comfortable at the barn, on the trail or at a show. Share your tips with other HorseChannel.com visitors by clicking “Submit a Comment” below. Some of the answers may appear in a future issue of Horse Illustrated.

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    97 COMMENTS

    1. I mainly go on trail rides, so in order for me to stay cool I ride in my bathing suit! Then after I’m done riding I wash of my horse and then go in my pool and cool myself off!

    2. I have water wars with my horse! I grab a hose and spray her down, then she gets me back by shaking off. It’s so much fun and the other boarders get a laugh out of it too. Just be sure to wear a bathingsuit or bring a change of clothes!

    3. I go on a lot of trail rides, and one of the most important things to know is where all the water sources are so your horse can cool off and get a drink. I’ve also found out that eating helps slow a horse’s heartbeat and breathing, so I always bring carrots on harder rides or hot days.

    4. I like to take out the hose and gently spray my horse all over. And i let her eat the grass around her. Then i take a sponge and wipe her face off too, so shes nice cool. Also get a bucket full of water and let her get a big gulp of cool water. And of course during all this i get cooled of also when she shakes.

    5. For summer riding, I head to wooded areas where it’s nice and cool. I also carry electrolytes to add to my horses water when riding/showing in extreme heat.

    6. To stay cool when we are trail riding we take off the tack and wade in a stream with the horses. After riding we give a nice long bath. In the barn we have fans on the stall doors.

    7. I like to hose my horse off after a ride to cool him off and give him a nice bucket of water. Sometimes we sneak into the pond for a quick ride but its not the cleanest and usually requires a bath afterward to get the mud off. While i work at the barn we like to have water wars with the other workers. It usually starts as an innocent dribble of water or water balloon but soon turns into tossing full buckets of water from the horses freshly cleaned stalls at each other.

    8. when I go on trail rides I usaly choose one with a lot of shade or there is one that has a stream!!!… at the barn my horse has a fan so I stand in front of it or I turn on the sprinklers and run in them… a great way too cool off!!!!.. hope this helps..

    9. In the barn its a good idea to have fans throughout the stables to keep horses cool. Its also great to wash off horses outside and let them dry off in the sun. They’ll feel great.
      In the arena I take a bucket full of water, a sponge, a rope and I poll and bring it down with me. I set the bucket down next to the poll. Then tie on end of the sting to the sponge and tie a loop on the other end. Now put the loop on the top of the poll. That way while riding you can pull of the sponge and cool off your horse without having to get out of the saddle.
      On the trails its always great to ride in as many shady areas as you can to keep your horse cool. While riding in the sun dont work you horse too hard. On trails its great to ride bareback so your horse doesnt have as much weight to carry.

    10. We have fans in the barn, and i always enjoy giving my horses baths!!! The indoor arena has a huge fan the pratically gets the whole arena. Alot of times we sponge the horse’s chest to help them cool down. We pretty much do all we can to help the horse’s have a cool summer!

    11. When my horse gets really hot, he is hottest on his chest. So I keep ice packs in a freezer at the barn. I wrap them in a towel and place it on his chest. It really helps to cool them down and they really like it, my horses lip always twitches 🙂 Also, when a horse is hot, Let him drink water, People have found out that horses will not colic, drinking water will actually help a horse cool down faster.

    12. Here in Southern California, summer temperatures often rise into the triple digits and keeping my horses comfortable in the heat is a top priority for me.
      I make an effort to keep workouts to the late afternoon and early evening hours. Some people try to ride early in the morning, but the morning hours are usually the most humid of the day, and humidity can interfere with the horse’s ability to sweat. If I can’t avoid riding in the hotter hours of the day, I ride bareback and keep workouts short and to the point, and I leave the arena sprinklers on while I ride which is both refreshing AND fun.
      All of my horses live outside, so I make sure to provide ample shelter, check water troughs twice daily, and I keep all my horses outfitted in light colored fly sheets and fly masks. The light colored fly protection helps the horses reflect heat and avoid sunburn. The only exception to the rule is my Medicine Hat paint filly. Her unpigmented skin is more at risk for sunburn even with a sheet, so she stays in a stall with a box fan in the daylight hours, and gets turned out at night.
      Beating the summer heat takes a variety of strategies for me and my horses, but their comfort and health (and mine!) are worth it.

    13. Texas heat can get pretty intense, so during our barns summer camps & not including constant lessons, we treat our horses to buckets of gatorade inbetween lessons & rides, & we always have liniment on hand whenever the horses get a little overheated not to mention cooling rags to wrap around our necks after lessons in the blazing heat!

    14. SPRINKLERS!!! All of the animals AND people at the barn love them. Really help your horse cool down and get clean. You can give a bath in the sprinkler eof just chill but it REALLY helps in the summer heat!!!!

    15. I try to ride bareback and ride in the afternoon or evening. But if i have to ride in the day i have cooling rags for my horse, and i cut my ride shorter!

    16. I either ride in the morning or evening. In the afternoon I hose her down or have a sprinkler going. On very hot days I just ride bareback.

    17. I find the best way to beat the heat is to avoid it all together! I ride early in the mornings or later in the afternoons, and if I plan on a day ride, I make sure there will be water and shade along the journey. Also, after every ride, I hose down my mare with cool water and liniment.

    18. Before a summer ride, i sponge my horse’s chest well, than, i sponge myself, soaking the entire front of my shirt! Works great for those cross-country schooling days 😛

    19. After a trail ride in the woods with my friends, we take the horses down to the lake at the farm and go for a nice swim with the horses! Then we go give our horses bath so they dont stink from the water, and then we have water wars after we feed and give our horses water:)

    20. After a nice long ride out we un tack our horses, let them get a drink then take them for a nice long slow walk around the farm to help them cool down and if the weathers not bad we sometimes give them nice cool baths and the dogs chase the water that bounces off of the horses as they stand there relaxed.

    21. Since summer is when I like to do most of my competing, I have to ride sometime, even when it’s really hot out. To make it easier for the horses, and ourselves, we like to ride in the mornings or evenings when it’s cooler out. It’s also fun to climb on bareback, set up the sprinkler in the arena and ride our horses around in it!

    22. With fourteen horses, we have four enourmous fans that just about knock you over set in the stalls. It’s fun to ride in the cool night too. The best is riding in the rain!

    23. I try to ride bareback and in the shade. I’m pretty sensetive to heat, and so is my horse!I ride under sprinklers, and before and after I hose down me and my horse! 😛

    24. Hmmm… Well, we honestly don’t get much heat here but as I’m just starting to learn about endurance I think replenishing electrolytes and drinking a ton of water is always the sane way to go! Of course, there’s also popping into a lake with your favorite pony and that’s a lot of fun!

    25. It is extrmely hot where i ride and we have fans in the stable and an AC unit in the tck room. We have to wash off our horses constantly and sometimes wear shorts (until we ride then we change into breeches)!

    26. The best way we found to beat the summer heat while trail riding is to make our ride to the lake.It not only cools off the horses but us too, and we get to have a picnic at the same time while the horses are playing in the water.The funniest thing is to watch my sisters horse try to snorkel,you only see the very tips of his ears the rest of him is completely submerged.

    27. After a long day with my feet trapped in sweaty work or riding boots, I loke to cool off by walking barefoot through the little brook beside the barn. It’s so peaceful and it feels really nice.

    28. in hot weather, i wear moisture wicking riding clothes and thin riding pants. i try to stay in the shade until im ready to ride. i always make sure to give my horse a quick hose down after, and spritz him with water in the middle of my ride.

    29. I try to plan ahead, and go to the barn either early morning or late afternoon when it is relatively cool. But if i do happen to have to ride during the middle of the day, like at a show, i try to stay in the shade as much as possible and keep my mare Chick cool by sponging her down and offering her lots of water in between classes.
      i especially like to go swimming in the pond at the barn on really hot days with her. Sometimes we actually “swim”, but most of the time we wade in and out of the shallows. if she’s good, i lead her in and let her roll in the water. Then i have to rinse all the “pond gunk” off of us, so we stay nice and wet.

    30. Living in the desert we just do not ride during the day. Evening rides are the name of the game. Bonus you get a great sunset to enjoy also. Then of course there is the hose down when you get home which is enjoyed by both my horse and me. Full moon rides are also fun.

    31. On our farm we have fans running full time for circulation in the barns and of course I am all for giving my horse and my other show animals bathes in the hot summer afternoons!

    32. in the summer heat. i hose my stalls down /also ikeep my horses up in the most hot part of the day/we also use fans/and i soak the horses down through out the day/use vicks on their hoofs/helps em breathe’ and helps with ticks /have a safe fun summer’

    33. Since my horse and I live in the desert, where temperatures are in the triple digits, I only ride in the morning or evening. My horse has a big fan in his stall and I keep him on electrolites. When I ride I wear moisture wicking riding clothes and a vest that you wet down before a ride and it keeps you cool. I also get creative with treats and freeze my horse’s carrots for a nice cool down snack after a hot ride.

    34. To keep my horse cool in the summer I put her in her stall with a box fan, give her cool baths, and avoid riding in the afternoon when the day is at its hottest.

    35. When I ride in the summer, I like to go on nice shaded trails on really hot days to keep cool. The trees provide protection from the sun, too. I’ve also learned that bareback swimming in a lake can be great on a sweltering days!

    36. Well, for starters, I ALWAYS hose my horse down after ANY riding time. Whether I ride for 15 minutes, or 15 hours, in 65 degrees, or 105 degrees, I’ll bathe him every single time. It keeps him cool and healthy, and also keeps him clean (sometimes I even spray myself down! Shhhh!). Also, I use a saddle pad without any foam fillers, and I think it is making a difference in how hot my horse gets. As for the way I keep myself cool, I always bring 1 to 2 water bottles to the barn and dress very lightly. But I usually don’t really notice the heat once I’m actually in the saddle and riding, since I’m too focused. Hope this helps some of you fellow Horse-a-holics!!

    37. In the hot desert weather, I hose down my horse’s chest and hind quarters before I go for a long ride. Then he gets completely hosed off when we get home. As for myself, I invested in a Cool-medics vest a few years ago. . . worth every penny! I also soak my ball cap in cold water (sometimes I even put it in the freezer for a little while). Keeping your head cool really lowers your body temp!

    38. I have 3 horses and one of them stays in the barn with fans during the daytime hours. My other horses have full time access to the barn where I have fans pointing down in the aisle. I also hose my horses off several times per day on their chest, behind front legs, and in between their hind legs. After i have scraped off the excess water, I take a spray bottle filled with an aloe/water mixture and spray down the areas that are wet. The aloe helps to combat with the drying effect that the water has on their skin.

    39. On really hot days I will spray my horses off and there shelter and then the water drips down on them they seem to like it…

    40. On really hot days I will pack an extra pair of shorts to throw on after a long ride. That way, while I’m untacking or hosing off my horse, I will be comfortable too.

    41. If the fans are on, I stand right in front of the fan for a few minutes. I love hosing my horse off because of how cold the water is.

    42. Me and my buds ride out onto the trails barebcack and only using halters to a little pond that we all ride through and swim in. We where bathingsuits underneath our riding breeches furning our dressage lessons so that as soon as the lesson lets out we cn untack and head into the pond!

    43. I always am sure to hose off my horse on the really hot days and if I get over heated I drench my head with water. Also on every stall there is a fan that blows air into the stall for the horses. That always keeps them nice and cool.

    44. During the summer months I wear light clothing, and I dont put my show jaket on at the last moment, so I am not baking in the sun with a balck big jaket on. Also for my horse I always either sponge, or shower my horse off.

    45. I ride in the evenings when it’s really hot and sometimes I take my horse down to the creek to swim. That way he gets clean and cool while having fun. Come to think of it, so do I!

    46. I always try to make life easier for my best bud Paco, and in the valley thay goes for sure.I always try to ride when it’s raining, and that really helps. Also I canter or gallop him through the hot and do the opposite inthe shade!

    47. I live in Arizona, so during the summer most days are around 110 degrees, so I try to get to the barn around 5:30am because that is when its only 80 or 85 degrees. At night it only cools down to 90 degrees so its still really hot. I also wear a short sleeved shirt and hose the shirt off then put it on and it is amazing how cool it is compared to when the shirt isn’t wet.

    48. Here in the Central Valley in CA it is about 100+ degrees all summer, and it can be just miserable!!!
      To keep ourselves and our horses cool, it can help to where a wet hat when not riding to try and keep your head cool, getting your shirt wet also helps a lot! We just have to dress lightly with tank tops and wear LOTS of sunscreen!
      To keep our horses cool we can hose them off except for the saddle area after we have brushed them to try and keep them cool, and when waiting for a class, I like to put wet, cool towels on my horse’s butt and neck to help him cool down. After we ride it helps them to give them (and us) a nice hose down!

    49. Where I live it can be up to 100 degrees in April! I hose my horse down after a ride and if I can I try to ride in the morning or in the evening( even though with school it doesn’t always work out). I also do alot of walking out after we trot for a while or after we canter.
      As for myself I use sun screen and wear short sleeve shirts. I also do my mucking out in the mornings before it gets to hot!

    50. I go for a swim with my horse on extremely hot days. On days when it’s not so hot, I hose the horse down, and I always cold hose their legs down after a ride, no matter how hot it is.

    51. When it’s hot out I hose my horse down and dip a sponge in cool water and rinse her face. Then i let her dry off by standing in the shade and eating grass

    52. 1)Spritzing water into the horse’s crest and poll cools them off well before a ride.
      2)Putting damp, but not wet, polo wraps into the fridge and then putting them on the horse’s legs immediatley before a ride cools their ligaments and tendons.
      3)Jumping in the sprinkler is always fun!

      4)Keep folds of wet or damp towels in the fridge and drape them over your horse and your neck
      5) sunscreen on you and your horse’s nose and ears

    53. In the sunbelt it gets brutally hot and humid. I keep the big fan going in the corner of the arena so that we can take a break from riding, and stand in front of it.
      I soak bandanas in water and place them in plastic bags to store in the freezer. I place one around my neck when I’m riding.
      I use sanitary napkins in the liner of my helmet to absorb sweat, and also in the waistband at the back of my breeches to catch sweat running down my back.
      When I’m hauling my horses, I buy a big bag of ice or two, and place it in a hay bag to hang near my horse’s head to cool him off during the trip.
      I spray my horse’s down and keep them in during the hot part of the day, then turn out at night.

    54. We use a fan in our arena, but when we go on trail rides we make sure to give the horses water before riding and when we get back. Also after riding I like to brush them and then spary them with a little cool water so they cool off.

    55. I get a bandana wet and wear it tied around my head under my helmet. It may feel weird, but wearing jean shorts when you ride in the summer really helps too! When you’re done with your ride, get in a bathing suit and hose off your horse, and yourself!

    56. After a long nice ride me and my trainer get a hose and spray our horse. After a nice long hose off me and my trainer spray eachother with the hose While Our horse drys.Altho our horse gets wet anyway!

    57. At my barn, we have fans (the square, concealed kind you can buy from your local hardware store) put up on the bars of every stall. They are kept in place with bungee cords. Our plug outlets were installed up above each horses stall front for safety reasons (and so the horses can’t accidentally unplug anything when they stick their heads out the stall window).
      I also hose off the my horses anytime after they work up a sweat (if the weather allows) – but I make sure to apply a hoof oil and conditioner at least every other day so their hooves will not dry out. After they have been hosed down, I will apply a sweat-proof fly spray.
      As for me, I try to drink water every twenty minutes or so while riding to keep me cool and hydrated.

    58. At my house I try to beat the heat by riding early in the morning or after dinner. Also I always bring water to stay hydrated & have some salty sort of food. But allot of times I live with the heat just for a good time!

    59. We ride in the early mornings, evenings, and at night. To cool off our horses, we hose them down and use horse sunscreen. We make sure they always have plenty of water. For us, we wear wet clothes and carry water bottles. After a long, hot ride, we cool down the horses and then have a hose war in the wash stall or chase each other through the sprinklers.

    60. I try to keep my rides from extending into the hottest part of the day. If I’m miserable hot…the horses must be! When trail riding I try to keep a sponge on a string tied to the saddle so that when we do come across a small stream I can dip the sponge in & wring it out over their necks & withers and behind. Along with the sponge I try to convince them to stand in running water (stream or creek)to cool them from their hooves up!
      Box fans in the barn/stalls.

    61. On really hot days I put the sprinkler on in the corral, that cools down the hot turf. I also spray the stalls with cool water and keep the fans running. For myself one day I was stuck in a hot pasture, no water except the water trough under a tree, so I jumped in, it was wonderful! Of course the horses were a bit perplexed but drank their full anyway.

    62. Some days when I’m riding, I’ll go bareback and take my horse for a swim in a pond. That cools both me and my horse down, and is relaxing for both of us.

    63. On those hot sweltering days at the barn, I usually bring a cold water bottle with me to drink. I wet a cloth with cold water and sponge my horse’s chest, his face, and his belly. I walk him around until we both are cooled off.

    64. When i get too hot i will dunk my head under the faucet and soak my hair!!!!!! My bffs & i go to the same barn so well have a HUGE water fight. But we make sure the horses are not with us!!!!

    65. I always take a refreshing water bottle with me to the barn, and also a small hand-held battery-operated misting fan. I also rinse my horse with cool water after riding in the heat.

    66. Whenever it’s hot and I’m working outside,or even just running around with my horse,Casper,I usualy always keep some fresh,cool water with me.This summer (couldn’t do it last year because I didn’t have a horse) I’ll jump into the pool,try off,then give Capser a refreshing bath.So there are my tips and tricks on a hot day.

    67. After the winter we had, I intend to fully enjoy being able to feel my feet, not having to wear 6 layers to stay warm, washing my horses and having them dry THE SAME DAY.

    68. I keep some fresh,cool water with me.and when I give my horse a bath I spry my self with the hose. and I try to stay in the shade

    69. I own a black mare- Indigo, since shes black, she attracts a lot of heat. So I have to be careful when its 100 degrees over the summer. After our lesson we go to this stretch of field out behhind my stable. its shady and long and perfect, and we gallop- the wind cools me off immidiantly and the stream at the end cools down indigo

    70. For me half the fun of summer is the heat. After our ride me and my friends have a little ‘war’ using the washing rack hose! We’ve learned to wear bathing suits underneath our breeches and boots in case of an innocent cooling down walk attack! The freezing water is at first a shock- then it just becomes enjoyable- and my horse loves it too!

    71. At my barn we love the summer heat!! My trainer has TONS of fun games to beat the heat with water games. My favorite is when you have a cup full of water and you have to canter around the arena, without spilling the cup of water on yourself. After coming home from the barn, I always have soaked jeans!!

    72. When its really hot out at a show, i take a pair of bell boots (velcro kind) and put them upside-down just below my horse’s knees. Then you fill them up with ice and let the ice cool down your horse’s leg. My show jumper would always have a problem with the heat and this really helped alot.

    73. I ride barefoot. It seems absurb at first, but when you accept the fact that over the summer I do nothing but ride around in my backyard on this mean little pony and I don’t use a saddle (to hot for the pony) its easier. I ride in shorts and tank tops, sometimes I bring ice packs from inside and I tie it around thte horses withers and neck.

    74. I try to either ride early in the morning, or ride later at night. It’s better for me and my horse. I also sponge down my horse on really hot days, or give her random sprays of water from the hose when she’s grazing.

    75. I ride in the morning; usually around 8:30. Before I put on my horse’s bridle I soak my head and neck. I do my usual routine walk trot and canter then before I jump I get a drink and spray my horse’s neck. After I ride I get another drink then soak my head again. I give my horse a quick bath. This helps me with the heat a lot and it doesn’t bother me as much as it did before.

    76. I try to ride as late in the evening as I can, we also like to take our horses down to our creek and cool off. I ride bareback more often than usual because a saddle is hotter for the horse and makes you hotter trying to put it on!

    77. One of my favorite ways to keep cool at the barn is hosing down my horse after a hot lesson, but “accidentally” getting wet myself. Plus, drinking water, wearing light clothes, and riding in the morning or late evenings also help a lot.

    78. We keep the arena watered and dragged it keeps it from getting dusty and hot, we bring water with us and a bucket to pour some in for the horses. If we can, ride bareback it saves time and keeps your horse cooler. Take breaks during a ride to just walk to let you both catch your breath. And most important – nobody said the horses were the only ones who benefited from a hose down after a ride!

    79. Draping soaked towels over the horses backs and necks was always refreshing. Altough you shouldn’t put them away like this, it’s good for hangin’ out with them plastered with the dripping rags.

    80. When I’m done with chores, my draft horse and I like to cool off with the hose. He’ll come up to the front of the pasture and let me shower him off- he even turns around to make sure I get both sides!

    81. I try to avoid riding on days that are so hot the horses are sweaty before I even get on! When I’m done riding I might hose off my horse. One of my horses loves water and drinking out of the hose. We also have a creek behinf our house where we can take the horses and get in with them on really hot days.

    82. I bathe every horse I can get my hands on! Especially the ones living out in the pasture with the sun beating down on them. The dirtiest ones get a full shampoo, while others get a nice, cold hose-down. Then my friends and I go play in the sprinkler!

    83. The way I beat the heat at the barn is swimming! We have a pond near our stables, so I go bareback and swim in the pond to cool me and my horse off!

    84. Baths!!! Every horse needs a bath right? Well every human could use a good way to cool off, and your horse appreciates it soooo much!!!

    85. To beat the heat at the barn, I usually wait until the worst of the summer heat, especially during the day, is gone. Then I usually ride either in the late afternoon or else in the coolness of the evening. That way neither my horse or I get hot and sticky.

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