How To Handle An Overheated Horse

There are several situations that can lead to your horse becoming overheated. This could be related to a high ambient temperature or heavy exertion. Often, it’s both. If your horse overheats, here are a few things to be aware of, for both prevention and treatment.
A horse is less likely to suffer from a high degree of overheating if it is good condition. Poor musculature or weight control, particularly too much weight gain will cause a horse to suffer from overheating, with or without exercise. This is why it’s important to keep your horse well exercised, particularly as spring approaches, which will help keep optimum fitness for the up coming summer months.

Electrolyte Supplements For Horses

For any periods of extended exercise or competition, a horse may often need supplements, particularly electrolyte supplements, to help to manage the level of moisture in the body. For shorter, intense exercise, it’s best to take electrolyte supplements before beginning, bolstering up the electrolyte levels to combat loss through sweating. Further doses of the supplement can often be helpful directly following the competition.
Aside from the general temperature of the horse, tendons and muscles can also be affected by heavy exercise. Often overheating creates discomfort in the horse’s legs, which often leads to aches and stress for the animal. There are various horse cooling washes, gels and ointments that can take away some of this discomfort.
Many horse cooling treatments contain natural ingredients, such as witch hazel, camphor oil, menthol and arnica. These natural ingredients work by reducing the surface temperature of the skin, which in turn provides an effective cooling agent to the muscles and tendons. Any excessive swelling, or even bruising, can be treated in this way. For horses with sensitive skin, or with younger animals, many of these equine cooling agents can be diluted, and incorporated into a body wash.

Horse Cooling And Signs Of Overheating

There are other ways of helping a horse to combat the effects of overheating. We’ve already covered some preventative measures such as a good level of fitness, but there are other ways of making sure a horse is better prepared. While exercise is important, specific exercise that’s tailored to an event or particular tasks is also a key element to keeping the stresses of overheating down.
Keep an eye on certain signs of overheating, besides sweating. Check the horse’s heart rate, as this is an excellent indicator of over exertion. Also, difficulty in breathing can also be a factor. By keeping close attention to these signs, and noting preventative measures, this should help to maintain your horse’s health effectively. For any ongoing issues, it is advisable to speak to your horse’s vet.
The Equine Warehouse offer a large range of horse cooling supplements which help your horse to cool down after exercise.