Taking better care of your horse when riding in hot weather
Riding in the hot weather can be hard work, particularly when you act responsibly and wear the right protective wear, gloves, boots and hat. But while it is sweaty and uncomfortable for us sitting in the saddle, spare a thought for your poor steed who is doing the really hard work. We can strip off, take a cold shower, enjoy a cold drink and spend the rest of the day sitting in the shade in shorts and a t-shirt. But what can you do to make your horse more comfortable and ensure he remains fit and healthy?
Advice from the racing experts
Race horses can’t pick and choose when to venture out, but they do have teams of experts looking after their welfare and keeping them in tip top shape. The pundits at Bettingpro.com.au don’t just study bookmaker odds to come up with their Australian horse racing tips. They also understand what it takes to build and maintain fitness for a successful racing career under the Australian sun. Here are their top tips that can be taken to heart by any horse owner:
Time it right
The top trainers will not be exercising their race horses under the midday sun if they don’t have to, and neither should you. An early start and an 8AM ride is the perfect way to begin the day, and is better than leaving it till evening, when the air is still hot from the day.
Minimise your time in the sun
Nothing is more frustrating than seeing the amateur take his or her horse out into the middle of the yard and spend 20 minutes under the unforgiving sun saddling up, getting prepared, forgetting things, readjusting the bridle, changing boots and so on. And then they spend another 15 minutes out there warming up. By the time the actual exercise begins, horse and rider are both overheating and have had enough. All the preparation can be done in the shade, so only get out there in the heat when you really have to.
Strip off after exercise
We mentioned earlier that it is easy for the rider to discard those sweaty jodhpurs and other clothes after riding, but your horse will be equally eager to get undressed. Boots and leg wraps should come off without delay, as the tendons in the leg will continue to heat up even after exercise. Leaving anything on will cause discomfort and possibly internal damage.
On the same theme, your first port of call when you’ve stripped off will be a nice cool shower. Treat your horse to the same. Hose him down, and you will see the steam pour off him. Make sure you use a sweat scraper to remove the water, which will heat up faster than you could imagine possible. Repeat the process as many times as necessary till he is properly cool – then you can go and enjoy your own shower with a clear conscience!