It’s too hot…I struggle in the heat, my brain hurts, I can’t do what I usually do and have to change my day around so that I do all the outside things early and late rather than during the day as I usually do. Flexibility, that skill that is so important at the moment, becomes even more important during hot weather.
Flexibility, the ability to adapt easily to changing circumstances, is, I think, one of the most important skills that we can learn. I think they should teach children flexibility in school rather than some of the things that they seem to spend their time doing. That would be a far more useful lesson, than how an oxbow lake is formed (literally the only lesson I can remember from geography at school, and has had no practical application ever in my life, whereas mental flexibility I need every day and have never been taught!)
At the moment we need flexibility every day, every hour, as the world and our circumstances change in a kaleidoscope of chaos. Applying flexibility to our horses is just as important as applying flexibility to our own lives. If you bring your horse out to school him and you had planned to a particular exercise that your trainer had given you, it is important to make sure that that exercise is relevant for this day. If it is an exercise to stop your horse rushing, but your horse is very sluggish when you try to school him that day, the exercise is no longer relevant. It is better to think of a new exercise than simply to carry on with the other exercise, because that was what you had planned.
So the next time you come out to ride, make sure you are responding to how your horse is today, and training him from there, rather than simply following your plan. People change, horses change, we need to be flexible to adapt to what is before us.
It is so tempting in this hot weather to not wear a hat. Hats are hot and sweaty, and they smell when you have sweated too much into them, but…they will save your life. Personally I would choose being sweaty, hot and smelly over being dead any day.
It’s simply not worth the risk. Always wear a hat to ride, and if you are dealing with any horse on the ground who is unpredictable, young, sharp or you don’t know very well, wear a hat for handling as well. Teaching a young horse to have it’s feet picked up, wear a hat. Turning more than one horse out at once, wear a hat. Teaching a nervous horse to load, wear a hat. Just got a new horse? Wear a hat. Not sure whether you should wear a hat or not – wear a hat.
Wear a properly fitted hat, with a harness. Get your hat checked at least every year, and certainly after any fall or kick. Your brain is far to valuable a commodity to risk it. Brain injury causes damage not only to the individual who has been injured but also to their friends and family who have to deal with the long term consequences of brain damage.
I know it tempting in the heat not to bother, but it only takes a moment and your life, and your family’s life can change irreparably. If you are struggling in the heat, considering riding at an earlier or later time of the day, or give your horse a few days off. Please be mindful of heat exhaustion and keep you and your horses safe during the heatwave. After all being hot is a temporary state, but being brain damaged is for life.
Dealing with our crazy British Weather can be a challenge. One moment we are sliding around in the mud and the next day the temperature has shot up 10 degrees and we are all dripping with sweat and covered with flies! We can’t do anything about the weather, but we can try to work around it.
Often it is not the heat, but the temperature change that causes the problem. Horses, like us, adapt to different climates over time, it is the quick temperature change that catches us out. Every time there is a mini heatwave the internet is flooded with “experts” discussing cooling horses or dogs down.
Be aware of these so-called experts, some the advice they are giving is dangerous. If you want trusted scientific advice on dealing with horses in the heat, please read Dr David Marlin on Facebook by clicking here.
Circulating on Facebook is the myth that you shouldn’t turn your horses out with a wet coat, as the water will heat up on your horse and cause it to overheat – this is not true! The water will evaporate and cool the skin.
Remember that social media is no replacement for veterinary advice and science. If you are in doubt about your horse’s health please consult a vet.
It can be difficult to work your horses during heatwaves and it is all too easy to feel resentful about your entries fees so carry on regardless. Just remember if you always ride your horse at 7 in the morning before work, and then take it competing in a heatwave in the afternoon, the temperature difference will be extreme. The cost of the veterinary care if your horse suffers from heatstroke and associated conditions, will be far greater than your lost entry fees.
Our horses rely on us to keep them safe – don’t let them down…
By Sue Palmer
I have to say that personally, I am loving the weather that we are having in the UK at the moment! As long as I don’t have to move around too fast, and I can get into the shade on a regular basis, I would far rather that it was warm and dry than cold and wet. I’m lucky though. My job is outdoors, I can treat the horses in the stables if we need to be in the shade, and although my work involves much physical effort, it is not cardiovascular.
I realise, however, that not everyone feels the same, and that many people are struggling to know what to do for the best for the horses when the sun has shone for such a prolonged period of time. We are not used to it in England! The grass has dried up, and people are having to feed hay in the fields as there is nothing there for the horses to eat. Does anyone know, by the way, when it is safe for the horses to eat hay that has been cut and baled this year?
So today’s blog is asking what advice you can offer others in relation to maintaining your horses health, and a reasonable degree of comfort, in the hot weather? Dr David Marlin offers some excellent advice on his FB page on how to cool horses quickly, including spraying them with cold water. Commonsense tells us not to overwork horses on the hard ground any more than we would overwork them on the soft ground, as the repeated concussion could lead to injury. I would hope that everyone is providing their horse with a constant source of water, although I spoke to a client this week who found her horse had had no water during the day, despite being on full livery.
What hardships have you found in the heat, and how have you overcome them? Or do you, like me, enjoy the warm weather?
Look forward to hearing from you 🙂
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Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash
In the recent heatwave I spent some time observing how people dressed. Some people are very prepared, the moment the sun appears, so do they dressed in cute sundresses, with matching sandals. Others, (myself included) seem to take a few days before they realise that they need to adjust their clothing to the current conditions. A few people just carry on regardless, wearing the same outfit that they wear throughout the year.
This has more to do with horses than may meet the eye. Being adaptable means that you can quickly change according to your circumstances. So, a few people will realise straight away that it will be too hot to ride when they normally do so, and will act accordingly. Maybe getting up at 5am to hack out, or only working their horse for 10 mins, or choosing to spend some time simply massaging their horse. Their acceptance of the change in circumstance and the speed of their reaction leave them in a much more positive state.
Other people may take a while to adjust. So will unsatisfactorily school their horse at midday for a few days, before working out that this was not a good plan and then alter their plans. While a few people simply resolutely carry on, regardless of the change in scenarios. We can all imagine how well this position of rigidity will work out.
Adaptability is one of the key skills in our lives, and applying it to our horses is equally important. So before you ride, take a look around and see whether you are simply behaving as you always do out of habit. Or whether your circumstances have changed to an extent where your previous habits are no longer applicable. You might be surprised.
Meanwhile enjoy the sunshine and your horses!