Horse owners to take precautions against equine heat stress

Horse owners to take precautions against equine heat stress
(Source: KPLC)

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC)

Summer means hot, humid weather in Louisiana, and according to the LSU AgCenter in Baton Rouge, horse owners need to take steps to ensure their horses stay cool and comfortable this summer, and at the Stables of LeBocage in Lake Charles, they’re doing just that.

“They can overheat just like a human,” said horse riding instructor Saralee Nottingham. “They can have heat exhaustion, and they can even die from being overheated.”

Nottingham says the number one way for horse owners to prevent overheating is lots and lots of water.

“Fresh, clean water available to your horse at all times is of the up most importance,” said Nottingham. “Also, shade. Whether it be a run-in shed and it’s just helping keep his body temperature at a normal temp.”

She also says proper ventilation like open barn doors, windows and fans will help allow airflow.

“Staying cool burns a lot of calories,” she said. “You want to keep good quality hay in front of  your horse as much as possible.”

Nottingham says the heat can cause serious health issues to your horse if not taken care of properly, she says keeping them cool s often as possible is the best way to prevent overheating.

“If their body temperature exceeds say 103 degrees, they go into a heatstroke. You should stop work with the horse if you’re riding the horse and start with an alcohol or tub water bath and then, call your veterinarian.”

The LSU AgCenter adds owners should regularly offer clean water to prevent overheating. Horses that are worked in temperatures above 70 degrees can easily consume up to 25 gallons of water a day.

LSU AgCenter equine specialist Neely Walker says when feeding horses, owners should pay attention to protein content. They say excessive protein can cause additional metabolic heat during the digestion process and extra body heat makes it more difficult for a horse to cool down.

Walker also says crude protein should not exceed 12 to 14 percent of the total ration for a working adult horse, Walker said. She says the protein content in the ration for an idle mature horse should be closer to 10 percent.

“Enjoy riding your horse this summer, but make sure to prepare yourself and your horse properly before attempting the beat the heat,” Walker said. “Be aware and take breaks to monitor your horse’s physical condition.”

Walker advises riding in a covered arena or in the early morning or evening when temperatures are cooler. It is also important to take time to properly cool down horses after riding, she said.

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