Summer Health Issues in Horses

Read our quick guide to the six most common health problems we see in equines across the New Forest and surrounding areas during hot weather and find out what you can do to avoid them.

1. Flies & other insects – Use a fly rug and apply a really good, horse specific, fly repellent. Other options include feeding a specially targeted supplement that will be excreted through the skin to deter pests. Look out for signs of Sweet Itch which is caused by a biting midge that only feeds at dusk and dawn, therefore it is a good idea to avoid turning out at those times.

2. Dehydration – Can lead to all sorts of problems, so, when it’s hot it’s especially important that your horse drinks properly. Help hydration by:

  • Ensuring there is a readily accessible supply of clean water
  • If you’re moving around take water from their normal yard with you
  • Soaking their hay
  • Giving them a salt lick to stimulate thirst
  • Cooling them off quickly after exercise using a horse sponge
  • Make sure they get the right balance of salts and minerals

3. Avoid overheating – By making plenty of shade and ventilation available. This is especially important if you’re at a competition or event where you should make sure your horse is kept in the shade or a well ventilated space. If it’s particularly hot why not consider turning them out during the morning or evening rather than in the heat of the day. Avoid dawn and dusk though (see above).

4. Sun burn – Yes, like all animals your horse can suffer from sunburn, especially ones with white markings. Apply factor 50 sun cream to protect susceptible areas or use a special anti UV face mask around the eyes where sun cream can irritate.

5. Avoid riding on hard ground – Baked ground can cause strain on bones, ligaments and joints. Ride on softer ground or stick to properly prepared equine surfaces.

6. Laminitis – The grass has been growing for a while now so you should be on the lookout for and taking measures to avoid laminitis.

  • Restrict time at pasture
  • Use a grazing muzzle
  • Feed safe forage to control sugar levels
  • Maintain regular exercise
  • Monitor weight

If you spot any symptoms of summer ailments, then please do call us sooner rather than later as in hot weather problems can quickly escalate. Our specialist equine vets are always available for a quick chat if you just need some advice.