Guest post by Lucy from Horse Factbook.
With the cold, wet and miserable winter months behind us we can now start to enjoy the summer warmth. But this can bring its own set of problems.
It seems as though the second the sun comes out so do the flies, and then there’s the problem of how to keep not only yourself but your horse cool as the weather hots up.
Everybody’s got their own tips and tricks for dealing with the weather so I thought it would be helpful to share some of mine with you.
Keeping the flies at bay
Nobody likes flies but during the summer they seem to be everywhere, they’re around your horse’s feed, they bother you while you’re riding and won’t leave your horse alone.
The good news is though that there are a few low-cost tips to get rid of those pesky things and keep them out of you the feed you’ve already prepared.
- We’re all pushed for time these days and many of us prepare the days feeds in one go, leaving them there until they’re needed. The trouble is that with them just sitting there the flies can get stuck in without interruption.
You can very easily stop them from doing this with an old shower curtain! Just put it over the top of the feed bucket and hey presto, no more flies. This also works during the winter for keeping the mice out.
- Nobody likes being bitten while riding (or at any time for that matter) but if you’re riding in a shirt it can be difficult to stop them doing this without covering yourself in fly repellent. Luckily you can use a couple of dryer sheets to stop this and as an added bonus you won’t be covered from head to toe in any sticky repellent.
Simply hang a sheet in each out of boot as well as in a pocket and the flies won’t bother you anymore. For some reason, they hate the summery smell of the sheets!
- You can stop the flies from bothering your horse while he’s in the pasture with an off the shelf bug spray or you could make your own for a fraction of the cost and best of all it’ll last a long, long time.
To make a simple bug spray boil a pint of water with a sliced lemon (including the rind) in for around 10 hours before letting it cool. Once it’s cooled down you can either put into a spray bottle or use a sponge you apply it to your horse’s coat. If your horse is also a little stressed then you can swap the lemon for some lavender, this will not only keep the flies away but help to keep your horse calm and relaxed.
Keep cool and carry on riding
The great thing about the summer is that it gives you the chance to go for long trail rides but sadly though you’ll end up getting all hot and bothered. Okay, to some extent, there’s nothing you can do about this but you can make it more bearable.
- If you ride with a helmet you’ll know how difficult it is to get rid of the sweat and stop it smelling, all year round but especially in the summer.
The good news though is that if you wear a bandanna under the helmet while you’re riding it’ll not only help to keep your head cooler it’ll also stop your helmet from getting sweaty in the first place. The bandanna can then just be thrown in the wash and your helmet will stay sweat free!
- While wearing lightweight clothes may be common sense I bet you didn’t know that the color of your clothing can also make a difference?
We’re always told that dark colors attract the heat and white reflects it but you may be surprised to know that this is also true for staying cool. Dark colors not only attract the heat but hold onto it much more than lighter color clothes.
- The key to helping you to stay cooler is to keep your neck cool but this isn’t always so easy while you’re riding, after all a washcloth soaked in ice will most likely fall off while you’re riding and you can’t always tie your hair out of the way if you’re wearing a helmet.
Instead what I do is fill an insulated spray bottle with iced water then take it with me while riding out in the heat. I can then spray it on my neck from time to time to keep me cool, this works even if you’re wearing a hat that protects your neck from the sun.
Keep your horse cool while he’s relaxing
Despite horses having a thinner summer coat, it can still be difficult for them to keep cool but with a little bit of forward-thinking and preparation, you can help them to keep their temperature lower.
- If you have a freezer at the yard then make plenty of ice cubes each day, you can then add them to water buckets and troughs periodically. Doing this regularly will help to keep the water cooler and will make it much more refreshing for your horse.
Like us though, horses will drink a lot more during the summer so make sure you’ve got plenty of ice cubes. If you don’t have a freezer at the yard then why not make them at home and use a cool box to store then at the yard.
- Be honest, how many times did you reach for a popsicle as a child when you were really hot? I thought so, so did I! I bet you didn’t know that horses are the same though, okay so they won’t ask for them but they’ll work just as well at keeping them cool.
You can make your own by filling a bucket with water and apples (or whatever fruit your horse loves), then simply put the middle section of some rope into the bucket (make sure you leave plenty of excess out fo the bucket so you can hang it up) before freezing it.
After it is frozen you can then hang it from a tree, or inside your horse’s stall and he’ll be able to lick at it throughout the day, he’ll also get the odd treat of an apple too.
Save water while washing your horse
During the summer most of us wash our horses regularly, especially if we’ve been on a long ride or are preparing for a show, although the problem with this is we tend to waste a lot of water but the good news is there are things you can do to use less (or no) water.
- If you’re only washing your horse get the sweat off then use a sweat scraper and baby wipes instead. I know that may sound like a strange combination but believe me they work perfectly together.
Use the sweet scraper to get as much sweat off of the coat as possible then use the baby wipes to remove the dried sweat that’s left. You can also use the wipes to remove most grass stains too.
- When it comes to washing your horse the sweat scraper is invaluable again, use it after you’ve washed him to get as much of the shampoo out of his coat as possible. This will then mean that you only need to give him a quick rinse instead of having to wash all of the shampoo out.
- Instead of using a bucket to wash your horse use a grooming mitt can save a heap of water. Once your horse’s coat is wet put plenty of shampoo on the mitt and then simply work up a good lather on his coat, do this all the way round before using the sweat scraper to remove the excess then quickly rinsing his coat.
Lucy from Horse Factbook
Having spent decades working with horses and teaching people to ride, I decided to start horsefactbook.com in 2019 to pass on some of the things I’d learned over the years and hopefully help other horse lovers. Feel free to check out our site, or us follow us on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram.