Can fly sheets help keep horses cool in the summer?
Okay so here's my predicament:
I bought my horse in November of 2011 and he did okay last summer (2012), but I'm a little worried about him. He does spectacular in the cold but gets a little lethargic in the heat. He spent most of last summer in Abilene (Texas) where it got HOT, but it was always windy. So he managed to stay relatively cool. Well, the latter part of last summer was spent in the metroplex area where it's not as windy. He was okay, just really didn't want to do much of anything. He was at my trainer's house and she said that when she would let him out, he would walk to the round bale, eat for a bit, and then mosey back to the barn. He would just stay in the barn all day. He was also relativity sweaty and his bottom lip was sagging like I'd never seen before. I feel so bad for him He is in his 20's and is more my dog than my horse. I just love him so much! He's a bay and so I'm wondering if his darker coat is contributing to him getting so hot? If so, would possibly a white fly sheet help cool him down? My thoughts are that the white color will reflect light that was previously absorbed by his coat. Or would it just trap heat and make him hotter? I was looking at the Weatherbeeta Kool Coat Lite Turnout Sheet (http://www.smartpakequine.com/kool-c...x?cm_vc=Search) and the Saratoga Summer Turnout (http://www.smartpakequine.com/sarato...x?cm_vc=Search)
Does anybody use either of these sheets with success? Does anybody use a fly sheet just to help keep their dark horse cool?
Folks here on Vancouver Island have great luck with the Airstream. It's a Kool Coat and flysheet in one, so it keeps the bugs off better than a regular summer sheet, breathes better, but still reflects a lot of the sun's rays. A mare I know who has a photo-sensitivity problem can comfortably go out in the evenings (when the worst of the sun is gone) in her kool coat and full face fly mask and not break out in hives, instead of spending 6am to 9pm in a stall. She's now able to stay out until 8 or 9am and comes in until about 6pm, then out she goes again. It's a miracle blanket for her!
Sadly, the Kool Coats are cut oddly and don't fit my gelding, so he wears a full coverage fly sheet from Amigo (in pale blue), and his belly/legs get doused in fly spray when the bugs are worst. His sheet is more for the bug factor as he's sensitive to them and it's taken me a year to find a fly spray that works but doesn't make him break out in hives. The Amigo DOES keep him a bit cooler, and since he's hose-shy, I will drench his sheet before putting it on him to keep him extra cool on the really hot days.
Yes, they do help. I prefer the white, mosquito mesh screen ones over the jersey knit.
The white absorbs no heat, so colored horses stay cooler. The mosquito mesh allows maximum airflow.
I'm also a die hard for electrolytes. As a heavy salt/heavy sweat athlete I know how crappy I feel when my electrolytes get low. I supplement myself daily with massive amounts (I eat 4x the recommended amount of salt per day for a person). All my horses get Apple A Day and they get lots more apple a day free choice post workout.
Would it be possible to rig up an agricultural fan for him? It all depends on your layout, but I'm able to have one blow through one of the run-ins and the temp inside is very pleasant. Here's a picture:
I have to disagree. When it gets really hot, my guy's BugRug (and the BugRug is made of very light fabric) will make him sweat esp around the area in the front where the straps are. I take his sheet off when the temperature gets up there. I always thought that the sheet would keep him cooler, but I saw it with my own little eye balls. Good luck with your boy.
I put the horses inside under fans when it's unbearable out. The fly sheets, not matter what type, do not cool them when it gets the point where the wind is the same temperature as the ambient temp (HOT!).
I'd look in to a misting system for him, be sure he's getting salt in his feed to encourage him to drink, but don't add electrolytes unless he's sweating. Feeding carrots and apples will help, as will soaked hay cubes or beet pulp if it's feasible and he'll eat it quickly before it gets gross.
Up to a point I think they can help the horse stay cooler, but if the ambient temperature is hot enough they just make the horse hotter. On the hottest days last summer we were pulling off fly sheets because the horses were just soaked in sweat under them. The naked horses weren't nearly so bad as they could benefit from any little wisp of breeze.
Considering his age, it just could be that his thermoregulating system is not as good as it used to be. Does he sweat as he should? If there is a lack of sweating, there are some supplements that are supposed to help. It would be a good idea to ask your Veterinarian for advice on this.
RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.
I haven't used turnout fly sheets in years (Yay for fly predators!!), but when I did, the ones that worked the best & ALSO kept the horses cool were the ones made from stiff plastic-like fabric that stood out a bit from the horse.