Hot weather is on the way (or already here, depending on where you live!), and pet owners everywhere are taking action to keep their pets healthy this summer. Horse owners are no exception. Horses need particular treatment in the hot summer months, just as dogs and cats do. Here are some top tips for keeping your horse safe and healthy this summer.
1. The Summer Clip – What to Clip, What to Leave
First of all, various sources caution against cutting manes and tailes before and during summer. Tails are essential for swatting away flies, and manes provide shade and a sort of fly screen for the horse’s neck. If your horse still has some thick hair from the winter (which can happen if it warms up quickly), then you can clip the horse’s hair in key areas to expose skin and help cool the animal. Along the bottom of the horse’s sides, on their flanks, and in the area where the front legs join the body, you can clip the hair close with electric clippers. This allows heat to escape from these easily-heated areas of the body.
Every horse owner knows the frustration of flies in the summer. Opinions vary as to the best method of fly control. Here are some of the more popular options, from chemical-based repellents to more natural ways.
-Special socks can be purchased for horses that keep flies from biting your horse’s legs. The legs can be one of the worse areas for fly bites, and socks can help keep horses more comfortable (and makes for a lot less stamping).
-Fly traps can be set up to attract flies so they leave your horse alone. Sometimes you can get the bait by itself and set up the trap using a plastic milk jug.
-Fly repellents can be sprinkles around manure piles and barnyards.
-Sprays work on the horse itself, and usually need to be re-applied often. These can be natural (usually essential-oil based) or chemical (pesticide-based).
-Fly masks fit over a horse’s eyes and the top of its head to keep irritating flies out of these sensitive areas on the animal’s face. The horse can see through the mask.
-Keep things clean. One of the best fly repellent methods is to keep your horse and its living area as clean as possible.
In the summer, a hose-down with cool water can help a horse cool down after a ride. It also feels good any time and cools the animal off. Besides just a hose-down, shampooing your horse also helps to remove manure that could attract flies.
4. Shade and Sunscreen
If your horse is outside, make sure he or she has access to shade in a low-fly zone. Your horse may also get sunburned, particularly around the nose area. You can use regular sunscreen on your horse’s nose to prevent this, sources say.