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Betsy Carter’s Horse Scene: Even in wintertime, horses can overheat
IT’S NOT OFFICIALLY winter yet, but it’s been cold enough to feel like it. It’s also been warm enough to feel like summer.
If you’ve already clipped your horse for winter, he probably feels comfortable on a 65-degree day without a blanket. But the furry, hairy, fluffy horses are going to feel hot on a warm day.
If you do not clip your horse for the winter, you never have to worry about him getting too cold while just standing around, but you do have to pay attention to his needs on those really warm days—especially when you are riding him.
When it suddenly turns too warm after it’s been cold, remember that horses will just as suddenly drink more water indoors and outdoors, so you may have to adjust.
If the horses drank their outside water buckets dry on a hot day, they will come into their stalls for the night thirsty. They will then proceed to drink their water buckets dry indoors, then spend the rest of the night without water. That’s not good. It is particularly bad since horses are eating more dry hay during these long winter nights and need lots of water to keep their stomachs working properly.
A long-coated horse will be uncomfortable when you ride him on a hot day. So even though it feels good to you to feel the sun on your back and the warm breeze on your face while riding in a T–shirt, your horse feels like he is working out wearing two sweat suits. He will be working very hard, breathing laboriously and sweating a lot. If he sweats, be careful to walk him out to bring down his temperature,
then dry him off before the temperatures fall for the night, or he will be very cold.
It is difficult to dry the sweat on a horse because it is oily. A sweaty, long-haired horse takes a long time to dry, so you want to avoid causing him to sweat. If you can’t resist the urge to ride hard on a hot winter day after your horse has grown his winter coat, do so early enough so he can dry completely in the warmth of the sun or go on a walking trail ride.
Betsy Carter can be reached at The Free Lance–Star, 616 Amelia St., Fredericksburg, Va. 22401; or by fax at 540/373-8455.