It’s hot. Really hot. It’s Mississippi in August hot. I lived in Dallas where summer temps easily break the 100 degree mark, but the humidity there doesn’t rival Mississippi’s.
When deciding if it’s too hot to ride (this is different than deciding if you are too hot to trot), you have to consider the temperature, the humidity and your horse.
If in doubt, there’s a handy dandy formula to help you decide:
Temperature + Humidity = Decision Time
If the final sum is less than 120, all systems are go.
If the final sum is 150 or above (especially if humidity is more than half of that sum), carefully consider if you and your pony should be working up a sweat out there.
You also have to use your brain (which I assume you protect with a helmet), and take you and your horse into consideration when making these decisions. How do you both handle the heat? Do you own Black Beauty? Have you ever suffered from heat exhaustion? What type of work will you be doing? If your horse suffers from anhidrosis (he doesn’t sweat), why are you even thinking about this? Step away from the breeches and go pop a cold beer.
When cooling out a horse, a former eventer (thanks Pat!) taught me that cool water and high humidity can be a problem. The water traps heat. Learn to hose (or sponge) and then scrape asap. I’m a soggy, hot mess, both literally and figuratively, when I’m done but the horses look like they feel better. Keep on hosing and scraping until the water coming off your horse is cool. Some people use ice water. My water is from a well and is cool coming out of the ground (an advantage to living in the sticks).
Electrolytes are your friend. While living in Texas, my trainer (thanks Audrey!) taught me to give my horse a bucket of Gatorade after working or when it’s super hot. I buy the big container of the powdered kind (my horses prefer orange over purple and blue) and put a couple scoops in a bucket of water. I had a vet who wasn’t thrilled with offering the extra sugar, but it gets the horses to drink water. I never had that kind of luck with electrolytes and had horses refuse it, so I stick to Gatorade and my horses LOVE it.
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