It's 100 Degrees: Part 2

Do you know how to keep your horse healthy when you’re traveling in extreme heat this summer?

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

This is the last of a two-part series. Need to review Part 1?

Horse Care

Regardless of how prepared you are, there is always the chance that the horses you are transporting will, for whatever reason, have difficulty during the trip. It is imperative that you know how to determine if your horse is uncomfortable.

    • In most instances, a horse’s eyes are bright and his ears are forward. If that’s not the case, determine what the problem might be.
    • A horse can show stress or worry with forehead wrinkles. In extreme instances, he will even shake as a result of stress.
    • A more extreme method of reflecting his discomfort is manifested in fidgety behavior, such as kicking the sides of the trailer, weaving back and forth, or stamping a lot.
    • Try to keep hay in front of the horse most of the time. The hay gives the horse something to do while he is riding and helps keep him content. A horse that is eating during the trip will be more apt to drink once you get to your destination.
    • Bring your own hay. Types of hay vary from region to region. If you bring hay with you, you don’t have to worry that your horse won’t eat because of the change.
    • “Over-hydration” is virtually never a problem, as horses tend to regulate their own intake, but you can go overboard on the electrolytes. It won’t hurt the horse, but you can waste your money that way.

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Hydration Tests

Here are two tests that you can use to check whether your horse is in danger of dehydration:

    • Pinch your horse’s neck and pull the skin away. If the skin is slow to return to its position, offer water and electrolytes.
    • Capillary refill time: Lift your horse’s upper lip and press on the gum. If the gum is slow to return to a pink color, your horse might be dehydrated.

Final Tips

    • Spray the horses with fly spray before you load them. A hot-weather trip is difficult enough without the horses having to contend with the discomfort of flies and other insects.
    • If you have a horse that gets stressed easily, give him a calming agent. Many of these agents have L-tryptophan in them, which is the same thing in turkey that makes us sleepy after we eat it.
    • Make sure you are totally prepared. Map out your route and make arrangements for extended stopovers. The less you leave to chance, the more apt you are to have a successful trip.
    • Make sure that your tow vehicle is up to the task. Check hoses and thermostats, as well as the tires. You should have a maintenance check on the trailer at least annually, and probably before you take a major trip of any duration.
    • Practice good driving with the trailer while it is loaded. There is a vast difference in driving with an empty trailer and with one that has a horse or two in it.

AQHA's FREE Mare Care report is a perfect resource for beginning breeders wanting to breed their first mare. Download your copy today!

Live in Region 5? There’s still time to enter AQHA’s Region 5 Championship July 22-25 in Lexington, Virginia. Go to or call Rick Shiffler at (717) 269-8611.