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Hot weather trail riding

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  • Hot weather trail riding

    Any tips for hitting the trails in SUPER hot weather? I ride english so I do not have a saddle bag or anything. What can I do to keep me and my horse cool on a 3 hour paper chase tomorrow??? They're calling for high humidity and 90 degree weather!

  • #2
    Tie a sponge to your saddle using a string that is long enough to drop it into a stream. You can sponge water onto your horse without dismounting. Check to see if it will spook him first.

    I like a camel back waterer for me, but that's a bit late to be of help for you. If you don't mind wearing a fanny pack, put water (or gatorade) in there. You might also want to carry a snack that will help your electrolytes in case you feel light headed.

    Allow your horse to drink at every opportunity. The objective will be to get through the ride safely, so don't worry about finishing in the ribbons. If you focus on that, you might ignore some warning signs that your horse is over heating.

    Have fun!

    I'm leading a benefit trail ride tomorrow, so I'll be sweltering in the heat as well. Today's ride was tough. The format changed from two two-hour rides to one three-hour ride, so I had to pick a different trail on the fly. I also had the wrong horse for the longer ride. Then, my 8-year-old daughter pooped out early and started crying, and we had to detour to get her to a road where MayS could pick her up for me and bring her home. I'd carried her a ways piggy back by that time, leading both ponies. Then the Haflinger I was riding started showing heat stress, so I got off and led both ponies again. It was at the point where I was feeling light headed and having chills that one of the riders decided to tell me she had asthma . It's hard enough to listen to kids say "are we there yet" without having adults do the same thing.

    Luckily, there were helping hands by the time I got us all back to the trailers. A friend sponged my two ponies while another hosed me off and got me some electrolytes. Based on how sick I felt by then, it was a close call with heat exhaustion. I don't care what anybody says, tomorrow will be done in short loops so that horses and riders who are stressed in the heat can rest and take care of themselves.

    Take care of yourself and your horse out there tomorrow. Don't be an idiot like me!!
    "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."


    • #3

      Super hot weather?!! Don't go......forgetaboutit!!!!. Stay inside and chat on Coth.....go out in the heat of the day and hose your horses off and leave them alone in weather above 90. I am just not driven enough to think I HAVE to ride in extreme weather. Nobody HAS to.!!!
      It's just not healthy for anything living; it's just too much stress.


      • #4
        I agree with Waterglen. Who says you HAVE to ride in this extreme heat? It doesn't do you or your horse any good to force yourself to ride in dangerous, humid conditions. Especially if you plan to canter and gallop....Sitting in the A/C is much nicer this time of year.....from a Florida girl who knows better. Have you ever seen a horse go down from a heat stroke???? It ain't purty and is SO preventable. Common sense tells me, if it's too hot for ME to run around, and the news people are warning us to stay inside out of the heat, then it's probably not a good time to ride.
        Never Ride Faster Than Your Angel Can Fly


        • #5
          90 hot? Hmm id love to have that cool of a day, in the summer it reaches 110 and i go on long trail rides, yeah my mare gets sweaty but she gets a few big bottles of gatorade in her mush when shes put away. I hose her off after every ride and make sure shes not dehydrated throughout my rides.
          Dressage it's a way of life!

          It's not as much about long and low as about down and around Courtesy of Gay McCall


          • #6
            Originally posted by NovDressageRdr View Post
            90 hot? Hmm id love to have that cool of a day, in the summer it reaches 110 and i go on long trail rides, yeah my mare gets sweaty but she gets a few big bottles of gatorade in her mush when shes put away. I hose her off after every ride and make sure shes not dehydrated throughout my rides.
            That brings up a very good point.

            You condition your horse before a long ride/competition. In a similar way, your horse is also conditioned to your local climate. Probably the worst part of the 95 degree heat we have been having in the NE right now is that it came all of a sudden. Neither humans or equines have had a chance to "condition" for it.

            If your horse lives in an area where 110 degree summers are typical, when those summers arrive, you will be able to safely go on long trail rides. If your horse has always lived and worked in New England (where is doesn't get to 110) doing that same thing would not be such a good idea.

            This is especially true this past weekend, where the temp suddenly hit 95, and some horse are still shedding out their winter coat.


            • #7
              It is extremely hot here, 30 C with humidity so it feels like 40C
              I run an arab and my friend rides a quarter horse. The arab seemed fine in the heat, sweating yes but not really hot. IN the meantime the quarter horse with his heavier muscles was baking.
              It depends on the horse, heavy muscles doesn't cool well while the lighter arabs seem to run fine. I maintain a nice working trot most of the time with only a bottle of water which I ended up pouring on the quarter horse.
              If you don't run in the heat you will never condition the horse for heat.


              • #8
                Even a lighter muscled horse like an Arab can have trouble in the heat if not raised and worked in the heat, or conditioned to it. If this weren't true then there wouldn't be IV bags hanging from the trees, hooked up to Arabs at the Tevis cup ever year.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Auventera Two View Post
                  worked in the heat, or conditioned to it.
                  That's the secret. Don't quit riding just because it is hot. Keep going out there and enjoying the horse. I still try to get out in the hot weather just the same as the cold.


                  • #10
                    I do draw the line when it gets 115. I will either ask the BO to set up the sprinklers in the arena or i will simply get off and hose down several times to keep my mare cool. Shes a thoroughbred and handles the heat really well but it gets hot here and has reached 120 before, when that happened I turned my mare out with 5 or 6 other horses when the sprinklers were on. Kept the horses cool and me calm about heat related illness.
                    Dressage it's a way of life!

                    It's not as much about long and low as about down and around Courtesy of Gay McCall


                    • #11
                      That's way too hot and humid for me to consider a 3 Hr paper chase hydrate like crazy, that's all I can suggest.


                      • #12
                        Get a camel pack or get saddle bags made for english saddles if you really want to ride.
                        Dressage it's a way of life!

                        It's not as much about long and low as about down and around Courtesy of Gay McCall


                        • #13
                          oh I forgot!

                          You know I forgot about the general rule I read somewhere about not riding if the combined temp + humidity is above 180 or 160, whatever. I recently read 150 even. And here in the east, it's definitely the humidity that determines the stress of the heat. I probably shoulda defined that better in my earlier post. I know that out west the heat is drier and a bit more tolerable and easier to deal with because there can be evaporative cooling. Nothing dries in humidity, nothing evaporates and cools.

                          AND I forgot to say that just because it's going to get to 90 doesn't mean that's when you ride. You ride earlier in the day BEFORE it gets there. Some hot summer days here, you can't ride after 9-10am. Mornings always better. And yes you do need to condition for the local weather but remember your own safety & health too. Here we also have to contend with air quality indices....they come in colors!!


                          • #14
                            waterlyglen, here's what you have in mind, I think (I'm copying it from another forum):

                            A SIMPLE GUIDE
                            When Is It Too Hot For Your Horse?

                            From an article about the death of a horse in a show in Tennessee:

                            Add air temperature and relative humidity, and subtract wind speed. If your total adds up to 180 or above don't ride; if it is 130-170 use caution; 130 or below, ride!

                            Determine: Temperature (F) + relative humidity (%) – wind speed. For example: Temperature (F) 79, Relative Humidity (%) 58, Wind Speed 4.6 (MPH): Answer = 132.4

                            Less than 130: All go—horses can function to cool themselves assuming adequate hydration.

                            130 – 170: Caution—a horse's cooling mechanisms can only partially function as intended. Some cooling management procedures will need to be performed.

                            180 or above: Stop—a horse's cooling systems cannot and will not function adequately. All cooling procedures will need to be utilized to keep the horse out of serious trouble.

                            Why is it an issue for the horse when heat and humidity combine to equal 180+? What doesn't work and why? What are some of the physiological ramifications? What are some of the symptoms?

                            Heat is produced by muscles in the metabolic conversion of chemical energy, to the mechanical energy required for muscle contraction and limb movement. Seventy-five to eighty percent of the chemical energy is converted to heat, which moves from the contracting skeletal muscles, to the surrounding tissues by the flow of lymph and blood.

                            Assuming a comparable rate of exercise intensity, the rate of cooling or heat loss is affected by air temperature, wind velocity, and humidity. Heat can also be lost in a fourth way, conduction, which is a direct transfer of heat from the skin or feet to surfaces in direct contact (such as an ice bag on the skin).

                            So, thinking about the chart and the equation:
                            Temperature (F) + Relative Humidity (%) – Wind Speed (MPH), we see how the ability of the horse to cool itself in these four different ways will be affected:

                            • In cool temps with low humidity, heat loss through convection and conduction can be as much as 50%. Heat can also be lost through radiation, with as much as 60% of a body's heat lost in this way when air temperatures are cool. The numbers in our equation would add up to much less than 180, and the horse would have no difficulty cooling itself.

                            • As temperatures rise, the thermal gradient for heat dissipation is reduced, resulting is less convective, conductive, and radiative heat loss, and more evaporative cooling. The evaporation of water from the skin surface is the most important means of heat dissipation in high-heat/low-humidity conditions. So, when we get a high temperature reading with low humidity, a horse may still not have difficulty cooling, but if temperatures are extremely high with no wind, we might get a result above 140, which would means our horse needs our help cooling off.

                            • With high humidity, sweat cannot evaporate as easily, so the ability of the horse to cool itself in this important way is reduced. When high humidity is combined with high temperatures, (which we just saw reduce the effectiveness of radiant, conductive, and convective cooling) the horse has now lost all four means to cool itself, and is in a dangerous situation, subject to a greater rate of heat accumulation within his body.


                            • #15
                              We have had weather in the 90s and the 100s here in NC, but we have continued to ride, even hunter paced. To not ride in extreme temps means missing alot of riding in the summer in the south, so we get out there and do it, but we are careful. I recommend first and most of all, a fit horse! Then lots of fly spray, so you can walk and not run from the flies. I ride english, but I have a couple of saddle pads that have pockets for carrying water, snacks, etc. - found mine at amazon.com. When you get home, if it has been a particularly long and tough ride, like a hunter pace or paper chase, I recommend a bracing bath for your horse with cider vinegar and then when he's cool enough to eat give him a cold mash of beet pulp, with a fist or two full of salt (morton lite salt has a hi potassium content), a squirt of molasses (more potassium!), and any other treats you like to add like apples and carrots. That's about all I can think of - stay hydrated, don't push too hard, and listen to your horse. Its not bad to ride in the heat - just don't overdo it.


                              • #16
                                I remember a tip from an endurance clinic I attended. Walk in shady areas, but trot through the sunny spots so you can spend more time in the shade. Obviously, use good judgement.

                                If I know I'm going to be riding in the heat, I electrolyte my horse the night before and morning of the ride. I add more water than usual to their feed. Make sure to bring water for the horse and myself at the trailer. Pick trails with lots of shade and lots of water.

                                After riding in the heat (it was only about 91 but heat index was 110) on Saturday, I made better choices on Sunday of the Freedom Hills Therapeutic ride.
                                1. I brought extra water for any riders who were unprepared.
                                2. I chose loops that stayed closer to the trailers so we could easily get back if anybody showed signs of heat stress.
                                3. I chose shaded trails that weren't terribly hilly and had numerous streams.
                                4. Luckily, I found some trails that were techinical to ride so the riders had just as much enjoyment and it was easier from heat-stress point of view. The horses were in good shape upon return.
                                It's possible to have fun and stay safe in the heat on the trail, even during unexpected heat waves. Also, I feed garlic, so I don't need to use much fly spray. This means I can sponge off my horses without losing protection from flies. This is the first year I've fed garlic, and there are significanly fewer flies bothering my horses. The test was when I brought another rescue horse into my herd last week. He's eaten up by flies and mine are just swatting at them in a lazy manner. New horse is starting garlic (when I can catch him to feed him)--and he needs fly spray.
                                "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."


                                • #17
                                  How do you feed Garlic? I tried a supplement once (from Cheval or something like that) and he hated it. Thanks,
                                  Appy Trails,
                                  Kathy, Cadet & CCS Silinde
                                  member VADANoVA www.vadanova.org


                                  • #18
                                    Skip it!

                                    Arrow! Thank you! I just can never remember the #'s except the 180. That's a terrific summary!

                                    I think another big factor is the weight of the horse. An obese horse has a layer of fat between his muscles and his skin/blood vessels. Fat is an insulator and keeps heat in....fatter horses and heavily muscled horses are inefficient coolers. Don't ask me how I know this!! My horses aren't fat! Just big boned!!! My draft crosses (and airferns) don't tolerate heat & humidity well. I find that if I'm miserable; so are they.

                                    And I find as I get older; I'm less driven to get a ride in on awful weather days. Just like the winter; if there's horrid weather=lets just skip it today or ride later today or ride real early tomorrow or.........


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by wateryglen View Post
                                      Arrow! Thank you! I just can never remember the #'s except the 180. That's a terrific summary!

                                      I think another big factor is the weight of the horse. An obese horse has a layer of fat between his muscles and his skin/blood vessels. Fat is an insulator and keeps heat in....fatter horses and heavily muscled horses are inefficient coolers. Don't ask me how I know this!! My horses aren't fat! Just big boned!!! My draft crosses (and airferns) don't tolerate heat & humidity well. I find that if I'm miserable; so are they.

                                      And I find as I get older; I'm less driven to get a ride in on awful weather days. Just like the winter; if there's horrid weather=lets just skip it today or ride later today or ride real early tomorrow or.........
                                      I definitely agree with the idea that it also depends on the type/build of horse, not even just fat, but heavier-set horses as you mentioned as well. My mare, even at her leanest, is a BIG girl. She's a QH, with some halter lines in her pedigree that gave her the big muscling. So even when she's super-fit, she STILL has a huge butt and big shoulders and chest muscles to lug around. She gets bothered much quicker under saddle in the heat than my mom's Arab does. But she's also only an inch taller than him, and weighs like 200lbs more than he does, at least.
                                      Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!


                                      • #20
                                        We ended up taking the horses swimming today after a 10 mile ride because it was so hot and sticky. That will sure cool you down and refresh you like nothing else can!