Warm weather is already arriving in some parts of the country and while most horses are able to exert energy without worry during the hot and humid weather, other horses struggle.
Fitness and conditioning can help a horse's cardiovascular system move heat from the muscles to the skin, where the heat is evaporated from sweat glands. The liquid in sweat coveys heat into the air, accounting for as much as 65 percent of the cooling process; the lungs blow off internal heat, which is why a horse has a high respiratory rate after exerting himself.
While a fit horse is less likely to get into trouble with heat, the climate in which a horse lives has considerable influence on the potential to develop heat stress. Horses that work hard in hot and humid areas may exhaust their sweat glands; a horse that can't sweat at all has anhidrosis and one that has decreased sweating (but is still sweating) has hypohydrosis.
To prevent anhidrosis, a horse owner or caretaker can:
- Get a horse fit before warmer weather comes on
- Train at-risk horses in early morning hours, when weather is not as warm
- Cool out the horse as soon as possible when training ends using misting fans
- Body clip a horse that has a long haircoat
- Offer free-choice salt and water
- Limit stress, which contributes to anhidrosis
- Consider moving the horse further north; once the glands begin functioning again the horse can return to the warmer climate
Read more at Stable Management.
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