As the weather gets warmer, you need to be cautious of the effect of heat on your horses.
July 15, 2009
From The American Quarter Horse Journal
Summer is picture-perfect weather, putting outdoor riding at the top of American Quarter Horse owners' lists of favorites. But the effects of hot weather can be brutal to our equine friends. When temperatures soar into the 90s and 100s, your horses' health can quickly cross into the danger zone, especially when exercising.
Heat builds up during exercise and must be released. In hot conditions, avoid heat stress, which can progress to heat stroke, by observing your horse's condition and minimizing excessive exercise.
Dehydration is an unmistakable sign of heat exhaustion. When a horse loses water through perspiration faster than it can be replaced, he becomes dehydrated. A simple "pinch" test can help you determine if your horse is dehydrated. Pinch a small section of skin on your horse's neck or shoulder and release. If the skin snaps back into place, your horse is in the clear. If there is a delay, he could be dehydrated.
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Treat the Heat
If you think your horse is suffering from heat stress, stop riding and get him to a cool, ventilated area. If you suspect heat stroke, call your veterinarian immediately. While you wait for the doctor, move your horse out of the sun. Find a breeze or provide fans to cool the horse as best you can. Spray your horse with cool water -- beginning with his legs first -- to help lower his body temperature. Scrape excess water off quickly because it soon rises to the temperature of the over-heated horse.
Be sure to tell your veterinarian if you think your horse is having a heat stroke. In critical situations, he or she might advise you to apply ice packs or water-soaked towels to the horse's legs and other areas that have large veins. If you use wet towels, be sure to change them often.
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Signs of Heat Stroke:
- Temperature above 104 degrees F. (A normal temperature is 99-100.8 degrees F.)
- Rapid heart and pulse rates that don't recover after exercise.
- Rapid breathing that doesn't slow after exercise.
- Less sweat than expected.
- Hot skin (might progress to cold if skin circulation shuts down).
- Signs of dehydration, including loss of skin elasticity, sunken eyes, tacky membranes and cessation of urination.
From our partners at Merial
Whether you'll be entering the show ring for the first time or returning after a hiatus, preparation is key for a successful and enjoyable competition season.
Sometimes even the simplest trip can be stressful. All trips can benefit from preparation and planning, helping to ensure you're ready when the truck and trailer reach the show grounds. Here are some ways to help make your show a success:
- Equipment: One or two days before leaving, make sure all tack, clothing and grooming supplies are packed and on your trailer.
- Paperwork: Be sure to bring current health certificates, proof of a negative Coggins test, and copies of association membership cards and registration papers. Right now, the Oklahoma state veterinarian is requiring a special statement on vesicular stomatitis for all horses traveling from Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
- Travel safety: Plan your travel route and timing early, allowing for traffic and any inclement weather.
- Backup plan: Even if you are only traveling a short distance, check your emergency kit to be sure it includes necessary tools and medical supplies.
It's also important to make sure your horse is healthy and ready to compete. Even experienced show horses can be thrown off their game by the stresses of the show ring.
Such stresses can lead to equine stomach ulcers. In fact, the stress of training, traveling and competition can lead to stomach ulcers in as little as five days and can mean that all of your hard work and preparation may fall short of that blue ribbon.
Ulcergard (omeprazole) is the only product approved by the FDA for the prevention of stomach ulcers. The next time you anticipate a stressful situation for your horse, consider using Ulcergard. One daily dose of Ulcergard has been proven effective in preventing stomach ulcers over both short and long periods of time.
Don't let the stress of showing this year take your horse out of the winner's circle. Ask your veterinarian about Ulcergard and make sure you -- and your horse -- are ready to bring your A-game.