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Horse struggling in the heat/humidity

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  • Horse struggling in the heat/humidity

    Thought I would cross post from the Dressage forum to see if y'all Eventers have any great ideas...

    Recently moved to Houston which is just as hot as where we were living in NC but not as humid. Mare is not adjusting well still after being here for a month. After a short 30 min ride of just easy walk and trot yesterday (4pm lesson but in the shade - normally ride early in morning or in the evening but she's still panting during our ride), she was panting at a 120 breaths per minute. She was never like this before where we used to live. I could ride her for 2 hours at a time.

    She gets hosed off after being ridden and parked infront of an industrial fan until her breathing is more normal. Also started the supplement one ac but probably too soon to notice a difference. and she's on electrolytes. Anyone with any tips/help?
    Originally posted by Sithly
    do NOT give your 5 year old child a big bag of apples and send her out alone into a herd of 20-some horses to get mobbed. There are better ways to dispose of unwanted children.

  • #2
    Please remember that Houston temps are in the 90s by 9am and stay in the 90s till after 10pm.

    The horses systems are stressed for longer periods of time so give your mount a break every 10 minutes, in the shade.

    Good luck and welcome to Houston!


    • #3
      Bring a bucket of cold water mixed with rubbing alcohol to the ring, sponge on the neck, between the hind legs, etc. every 10 minutes or so. Hose and sweat scrape before you ride.


      • #4
        Is she sweating?

        What happens when you ride her in the cooler parts of the day?
        Click here before you buy.


        • Original Poster

          she is sweating and when I ride her right before dark she still will pant after a 30 min dressage ride (mostly trot - a little canter)
          Originally posted by Sithly
          do NOT give your 5 year old child a big bag of apples and send her out alone into a herd of 20-some horses to get mobbed. There are better ways to dispose of unwanted children.


          • #6
            If you think she is beginning to adapt at all and it's just taking a while, I would stop and do some aggressive cooling mid-ride, such as what Kealit suggested. If, however, she does not show ANY signs of adapting, I might give the vet a call.
            Click here before you buy.


            • #7
              My gelding was having a lot of trouble adjusting to the heat/humidity this year, after going into work for the first time in his life.

              IMO, you are on the right track with One AC - that stuff works wonders, but needs to be combined with a number of other strategies to guarantee success.

              I've lived in FL or GA my whole life as a horse owner. This is what I think works:
              Put horse on One AC
              Switch to PM turnout, Stalling (under fans preferably) during the day
              Give a good number of days off to recoup, I usually go with about 5-7 days.
              Once you start riding, work for about 5-10 minutes (or as soon as you see sweating stop) and take a break and walk for a minute or two. (these breaks become a standard thing for summer riding)
              Practice aggressive cooling during the first week or two during your ride, using the water/alcohol combo.
              Depending on the horse, I also throw in a day or two of work in the shade on the trails.
              Constantly monitor the sweat to respiration ratio when working, and take breaks as needed.

              I did this for my current horse and this afternoon I went out for a ride and found my horse sweating up a storm in his stall, perky as he could be. Finding him sweaty just makes my day!
              Final Furlong Racehorse Retirement


              • #8
                IMO, the only thing that really seems to help is riding very, very early in the morning, if possible! Riding between 6-7am, or earlier, is a lot more tolerable.

                I sometimes ride in the evening too, but it's still quite hot. The heat seems to reach it's peak between 1-3pm here. If I ride between 4-7pm, it's just beginning to (at a painfully slow rate) cool down.
                T3DE Pact


                • #9
                  What Fractious Fox said.

                  Obviously, make sure there are not other physical issues happening.

                  Don't forget to consider air quality. In the heat/humidity, breathing stagnant air really does take more effort.

                  Besides that, when it's brutally hot and humid (as it has been here in the Delta for weeks now), adjust the work --

                  Get out of the arena. Grass is cooler than sand/footing.
                  Walk. It's easy to underestimate the value and effort of work done at the walk.
                  Transitions. A lot of work, sharpening to the aids, coming round, etc can be done with transitions. Shorten the duration of work in a gait.

                  My mare is one of the most un-exhaustable horses ever, seriously! And, in this weather, 30 minutes is the MOST I will ask of her.

                  [I have to ask -- where did you live in NC? Because I consider Houston, and New Orleans, to be the MOST HUMID places ever.]
                  No hour of life is lost that is spent in the saddle.
                  -- Winston Churchill


                  • #10
                    I lived in NC (Charlotte) and moved to Houston last August. I went from riding 2 horses a day to BARELY being able to ride 1 horse. I did not move a horse with me. I would take it easy and give the horse a break. Everyone at my barn is riding about 30 minutes max on horses that grew up or have been in this weather for years. Just keep in mind that this had been a really bad summer. It was the hottest June on record for Houston. It normally will not be this bad.

                    I have since bought a horse and I am thinking about giving him August off. It is just that hot! Do what others have suggested to manage the heat, but having watched other horses struggle after having been over heated, I am hesitant to push the issue and cause long term damage for usually hot weather. Once the horse has over heated, it more susceptible to do so again.


                    • #11
                      I'm in far north Texas (neighbors call it Oklahoma) and I will be on tomorrow morning by 630 for a max 30-minute ride. Temp will be about 80 and humidity 50+. Hose and scrape my 15-yr old gelding several times after the ride.

                      How badly do you want to ride and make it as easy on your mare as possible? One of my coworkers is up at 430 am to be at the barn by 530, ride, shower, and get to work by 8, three times a week. Trainer does 20-minute lessons starting as soon as light enough to see.

                      Not much competing goes on here in July or August.

                      Choices, choices......good luck, and hope there's an early fall!


                      • #12
                        Channel 13 Weather said we are breaking daily heat records in Houston/Galveston from 1876...


                        Exceptional! Please use Exceptional Caution.


                        • #13
                          Does your horse have a thicker coat? Don't know what her breeding is, but a lot of warmbloods grow a fairly thick summer coat compared to what you'd see on a TB/Arab.

                          It's been so hot and humid here in the mid-atlantic that we are starting to body-clip all of the horses that don't have that super-sleek summer coat. It is hard to keep them cool with this much humidity, even on night turnout and days inside under fans. Getting rid of that extra hair really helps.


                          • Original Poster

                            She's a tb with a thin coat. She sweats alot but still panting/hot. We used to live in Greenville nc which is closer to the coast and an hour and a half east of Raleigh. When I work days (currently 75% of my schedule) I have to clock in at 6:30 am. So no early riding for me since it's dark when I leave the house. Sigh- I wanted to show this fall but looks like that's not going to happen. I want her to be healthy and happy.
                            Originally posted by Sithly
                            do NOT give your 5 year old child a big bag of apples and send her out alone into a herd of 20-some horses to get mobbed. There are better ways to dispose of unwanted children.


                            • #15
                              What FF said. My vet said that horses need a period to NOT use sweat glands....and if they don't get that break, they shut down. The high resp rate sounds like the beginnings of anhidrosis.

                              I actually put window units in two stalls (they are connected) and my horses go in about 11, come out about 6. (We're in Wimberley for the summer, which is in hill country and thus pretty hot/humid.)

                              When my horse stopped sweating here last year, my vet suggested one ac and acupuncture. We had it done, and he started sweating in three days. He's been sweating since (and I've kept him on one ac). I really think being in the ac helps.
                              --Becky in TX
                              Clinic Blogs and Rolex Blogs
                              She who throws dirt is losing ground.


                              • #16
                                Kairoshorses, I forgot about the acupuncture... I haven't owned my horse long enough to do it, but plan to have him treated in Feb next year to prep him for the summer heat.

                                I still ride very frequently, and oftentimes in some of the hottest temps (much hotter than temps that have been mentioned here). Many in other parts of the country probably think I'm crazy... but again, living in the climates I've always lived in, if we didn't ride during these times, we'd never ride. I think it's just important to pay attention to the horse in front of you. Are they acclimated? Are they TB type or WB type? What is their respiration and sweating like?

                                I think giving breaks during ride times and turnout is just so important, with definite off days available throughout the week (I do two days at opposite ends of the week, any more and I'm on a firecracker). Giving a chunk of time off to let them recuperate from heat stress is also sooo important. Think about how tired you are when you suffer from heat exhaustion.. a horse needs about a week to reset and then you can reintroduce work, but with heat management in mind.

                                I just got back from a ride in 90+ temps with such humidity my windows had condensation on them this morning. Today we kept it at about 30 min, but he was just fine. Tomorrow I'll be having a XC lesson in the late morning, and a ride on the flat the following day (maybe in the woods). If you have a healthy horse, I think you can do a lot during these hot months, but you just have to be very attentive and know when to stop before you start on that slippery slope to a heat injury.

                                Keep us posted on how your horse does!
                                Final Furlong Racehorse Retirement


                                • Original Poster

                                  I know y'all aren't vets but do you think I should just give her time off to adjust? We've been riding 4x per week since we got here.
                                  Originally posted by Sithly
                                  do NOT give your 5 year old child a big bag of apples and send her out alone into a herd of 20-some horses to get mobbed. There are better ways to dispose of unwanted children.


                                  • #18
                                    You know your horse best...

                                    My horses get a vacation in December around the holidays, usually for two weeks, and during the dog days of summer, usually another two weeks at the end of August.

                                    Even with the temps in the 100s, the horses currently are not on full-vacation but they are doing light duty just to keep them trained. I am concerned about one horse that isn't a heavy water drinker, but I know that horse, and I watch him closely and give him soaked food, lots of grass, etc...I have a friend who's horse doesn't eat as much in the heat, happens every year, just longer this year. I have another friend who's horse gets heat colic, they keep it in the barn during the day, and feed it after dark, happens ever year, just longer this year. I think you get my point...

                                    The performance level muscle tone comes back pretty fast, I like trained, supple, healthy, and happy horses.

                                    Good luck with your decision...


                                    • #19
                                      This is always a touchy subject for us! My OTTB gelding has suffered with anhidrosis for the past 4 summers!

                                      This year - we have him on a regimen of beer daily (yuengling), iodine, ONE AC (triple dose) and Chinese Herbs and light dose electrolytes. We attempted acupuncture - but he will not let us near him with a needle. He is not really sweating much - but - he does seem to be tolerating the heat a bit better this year.

                                      I am a natural horsemanship fruit loop - so I refuse to sedate, twitch etc to "force" him to have the acupuncture - sort of defeats the purpose of doing it if you get them all out whack system wise anyway.

                                      He has also gotten ACTH injections. We live near Charleston, SC and the humidity is OPPRESSIVE to say the least. We also have a fan and mister out for him. The barn where I board has a pond - so he gets free access to the pond to cool himself off also.

                                      And - if nothing else - I just don't ride! I have just accepted the fact that from late June - late August - he will be out of commission! He's done a lot in his lifetime and he deserves to have his needs put first a few months out of the year.

                                      Good luck to you! It's a touchy, scary situation!!

                                      I actually started my own facebook group - Support for horses with anhidrosis so that people can "write" in with tips or advice on what they are doing to help their horses cope with the heat.


                                      • Original Poster

                                        So she has stopped sweating now. And only being ridden at most 3 times per week for the past several weeks.... my poor baby
                                        Originally posted by Sithly
                                        do NOT give your 5 year old child a big bag of apples and send her out alone into a herd of 20-some horses to get mobbed. There are better ways to dispose of unwanted children.