View Full Version : Horse Fitness Question- Heat Related

Jun. 10, 2011, 11:09 PM
Hi guys,

My super special red wonder horse of awesomeness, Riley, is on track to actually show this year! He's very accident prone and we haven't had a show season since we ruled 2nd level a few years ago. Our first show (shhh, don't tell him!) will be July at Lexington, VA, doing 3rd level to get my last Bronze scores.

He was working last summer, until he strained a sesmoidial ligament, but before then my trainer and I noticed he'd get out of breath pretty quickly, and it would take 20 minutes for him to recoup after being hosed and walked in shade. This was concerning, as he was generally a very good recoup-er- I was always thankful for his TB side in that. He was one you could ride in the heat of the day and he'd be breathing normal by 10 minutes of walking. We had the vet out to check his lungs, and all was normal, and then he hurt himself and it didn't matter.

He was brought back slowly, started with 30 minutes of walk, back in November and was back to almost normal work by February, when he went off again. With some shoe changes, he's been better than had had felt in years (he has some navicular and coffin joint issues that have plagued him in one foot for years now) and we've quickly progressed in our work over the past couple of months.

And then we hit the heat and humidity last week, and the breathing thing has come back. It's like he takes quicker, shorter breaths, about 15 minutes into our work, and it takes longer than normal to recoup. There's no roaring sound, there's no heaving, just a really quick in/out with his nostrils. They are not even particularly red or flared. This doesn't seem to affect his work, he's not struggling or seeming more exhausted, and has enough energy to spook when you walk him out. :)

I have been: riding him early in the morning or later at night, hopping off and sponging him down with vetrolin mid ride, hosing him and walking him in the shade when I'm done. He is sweating normally, and he's a really good sweater. He gets electolytes daily. He is ridden 6 days a week, 35-50 minutes, many walk breaks. All of these seem to help. Cooler days there is no problem, it just started this week.

I have left a message for my vet.

Some things we have tossed around: clipping his coat, upping his fitness by riding 2x a day or trot sets, cold water sponging. I am hoping it just a fitness issue from being in sporadic light work for the past couple of years. He is 15 now, and I've had him more than half his life.

I am very concerned if I end up with with an afternoon ride time at a show. Luckily, he is not one that needs a lot of warm up. He knows his job, and can go right in and do it.

Any ideas/ similar experiences?

Jun. 11, 2011, 11:53 AM
Clip him first of all!
Then, a horse I know has been "heavey" for a few years. Last summer they put him on MSM.... and he had no problems. This year it is wicked hot, and the only time he shows problems is when he is under some other stress - like it's near time for the farrier, or an especially hard work (he is showing second level, I think).


Jun. 11, 2011, 01:04 PM
Unfortunately, this heat is nothing that can be avoided, and I've found even my most "fit" horses aren't working well down here (coast of NC). I've gone completely to a before 8am or after 8pm schedule for my riding. I avoid outdoor shows on days warmer than 85... almost impossible down here, but the health of my horses is more important than the showing.

Keeping him cool is your best bet. Make sure your warm-ups are simple and non-taxing. As much as I wish I had a quick answer for you to help with the situation, it's just one of those unfortunate things we have to deal with a few months out of the year :)

Good luck in your upcoming show and here's fingers crossed he keeps himself healthy until then!!

Jun. 11, 2011, 02:38 PM
noticed he'd get out of breath pretty quickly, and it would take 20 minutes for him to recoup after being hosed and walked in shade. This was concerning

Any ideas/ similar experiences?
Have an EKG done. I suspect this is a heart problem, not a lung problem.

Jun. 11, 2011, 10:36 PM
Have an EKG done. I suspect this is a heart problem, not a lung problem.

This. Exercise intolerance can be one of the signs of cardiac trouble. And I would suggest a cardiac ultrasound as an alternative. IF there is a problem it can help assess the level of damage and where it is. Its not all that close, but Ohio State Veterinary School has some very good equine cardiologists; I used them several years ago.

I know its been hot, but it sounds like you are doing a lot to keep him cooler during work and still having a problem.