Monday, July 25, 2011

Heat: Harv and Ri

I don't know about you guys but we had record temps last week, and Friday was perhaps the hottest weather I've ever experienced -- about 104 degrees. It was just awful. One drawback of the "lower barn"  that Harv and Ri  live in is that ventilation is poor. It is easily 7-8 degrees hotter than whatever the temps are outside. In this weather, in this barn, the situation is Code Red.

Thank goodness for the staff at our barn. They watch the horses closely, and I got a call that Riley wasn't doing well. Some of the horses were getting hosed, and because they know I'm trying to keep Ri's feet dry they called and asked me what to do. My farrier was on site, and he applied a sealant to Ri's hooves. Then off he went to the showers. Before he returned to his stall, one of the boarders set up her extra fan directly in front of Riley's stall (so he had two fans trained on him).  Bless my barn buddies, we try to look out for each other. I'm sure it helped. But that night, when I went to turn horses out, he looked bad again.

Harv? Even as he has aged (and presumably is less able to regulate his own temperature), he looked pretty darn good. Where Riley was standing with his head between his knees, drenched in sweat, Harvey stood in the adjacent stall, head hanging out the dutch door, dozing and dry.

To the showers: A comparison
I took each boy, one after the other, to the showers again. I applied cold water to Riley, grabbed a scraper, and started scraping. To my shock, the water that moments ago was almost too cold was HOT -- just from being against his skin. This alarmed me and I kepted rehosing him till the water I scraped off was cool. Then I moved him to cross ties in the upper barn, which is an old stone barn and much cooler than the lower barn. He stood quietly, for once, visibly relieved.

I pulled Harv into the showers next. Same treatment, same cold temp, and yet when I scraped Harv the water against his skin felt cool.

Hell on earth, temperature-wise, finally ends
Today was a relatively comfortable 90 degrees, and I rode Riley for the first time in five days. He seemed fine, but he fell asleep in the cross ties while I got him ready to go back in his stall. I think this weather sucks the life out of them. Thank goodness its over.


  1. Oh man do I comepletly understand. I have an older mare that just cannot handle these temps anymore. And yesterday, it was just too much for her. I found her down in her pasture - I presume she went down to roll and didn't have the energy to get back up - had to have the vet out and all. Personally, snowflakes look GREAT right about now!

  2. I expected my older guy to have more trouble with the heat, but like Harv & Ri, it was the younger one that was drenched in sweat when I showed up at lunch time to do the rinse/scrape routine and top off the troughs with fresh cold water. I was surprised, because the old man has always been a heat-wilter, like me, but I guess they all have their limits.

    I'm just thankful for the cooling rain today! It's nice to finally have a break. Those temps were wicked.

  3. We've been between 102 and 105 here every day for more than a month, and it's hard on everyone. The run-in barn gets a great breeze, but the boys prefer to stand outside under the trees in the heat of the day. I think they get even more breeze when they're outside in the shade, honestly.

    If Harv and Ri aren't already on salt supplements (free choice is best), you might add some to their diets. Otherwise, there's not much to do but hose regularly and ride early or late. :(

  4. It's news like this that makes me feel so incredibly lucky to have my mare turned out in a big, shady, grassy pasture with plenty of water all day. The temp in the barn would be driving me crazy.

  5. Yikes... try liniment! It cools the skin and is a great remedy for over-heated horses!! You can even put it in a spray bottle....

    We are actually having one of the coldest summers on record for the Northwest.... it's been in the 60's most days, then it will suddenly jump to the 80s without warning and everybody wilts! We've also been having lots of rain... which, believe it or not, is NOT the norm for summers around here. It's made for a TERRIBLE hay season with many ruined hay crops!

  6. It's been very hot here too. We've been hosing 2x/day and I increased the loose salt I feed AM and PM to adjust for sweat loss.

    Thankfully, every day for five days now we've gotten a late afternoon thunderstorm that has cut the heat somewhat.

    Everyone take care. I clearly remember last winter during our 3rd or so snowfall (we generally get it once a year) I was ready for summer. Now, in this heat, I'm ready for ... not winter! But fall! A long one.

  7. That's a scary situation, and I'm glad your friends and you were able to help the guys out. I am truly perplexed as to why the Old Man did better than The Baby in the heat. Maybe he's had more time to adapt?

    I've had the unpleasant experience myself of hosing off a horse so overheated that he turned cold water into hot immediately. Sounds like you were doing exactly the right thing for Ri.

    What I want to know, though, is how 'bout Mama (and Bob)? I keep thinking about your not having A/C! Craziness, woman! I didn't get a vacation this year due to our central unit conking out. MO would have simply been intolerable lately without it (we were the hottest place in the whole country last Thursday, I was told).

    My friend's guy who I've been riding lately is a ginormous WB with Metabolic Syndrome/borderline Cushings. She's bodyclipped him at least three times already and he's still a sweaty mess, poor dude. So NO RIDING going on here lately, needless to say! Today it's "only" 90 and man, it feels like a cold front!

  8. Yikes!!! I've been complaining because we haven't had a day yet over 75 but I think I'd much rather be running around in sweaters than having to worry about my horses over-heating!

    When I lived down south we just rode when it was late - or not at all if it was too hot!

    Good luck to everyone in the sweltering heat!

  9. A little rubbing alcohol added to a bucket of cold water will help to cool them off better. It helps the water evaporate faster from their coats, which cools them more efficiently. :)

  10. Louise McGillivrayJuly 25, 2011 at 8:04 PM

    Why are the horses indoors on such a hot day?

    I live in a part of the world where we get these temperatures and higher on a regular basis throughout summer. I certainly would not keep my horse in a poorly ventilated stable on a day like that. They need fresh air and a shady tree or shelter... but of course they will still stand out in the full sun sleeping anyway!

  11. My guys seemed to tolerate the terrible heat pretty well. But they have free run of the stalls and paddocks as they choose, so they were in and out and in and on in the barn.

    I still feel sorry for them, and I especially feel sorry for your Riley who apparently has a very low tolerance for heat.

  12. Stacy, If you get that call again, or you just have another day 100 or higher, and you know he will be uncomfortable, pick up some ice on your way out and cool him out with icewater. Sponge on, wait 30 sec, scrape off. Repeat. It really works wonders (this coming from an upper level three day eventer - and yes, I have done a long format!). Those might say it is too much of a shock, but trust me, getting his temp down is the MOST important thing in that situation. And when done, get as much water off of him as possible.

  13. Here in western Sydney we have this problem every summer for at least 2 weeks straight. Last summer we had two weeks with temps a minimum of 40 degrees each day (104 F) with about 5 days straight with temps at 43 degrees (109 F). In the sun, the temp is almost 50 degrees (120 F).

    We were always taught to hose, scrape, repeat and NEVER leave water on a horse as it can actually burn the skin if they are in the sun at worst, or at best have the opposite effect and just absorb and hold heat close to the skin like what you found with Riley.

    I'm feeling sorry for all the poor horses an people over there in the US atm as I know exactly what you are going through!!

  14. RiderWriter, this was a rough period for Bob and I too -- neither of us slept much during this -- it was pretty awful. Louise, our pastures don't have consistent shade and the direct sun would be unbearable -- and there is the added discomfort of flies. Inside or outside it was bad, just a different kind of suffering. The real question is, why is the lower barn's ceiling fan (which has been broken for years) NOT BEING FIXED. I'm not king of the world or it would be back in operation.

  15. We had a horrific heat wave right at the beginning of summer (indices up around 108/110). Broke and/or matched record highs all over the place. Awful.

    I think when you couple extreme temperatures with a lack of air movement (as in a barn) it makes a bad situation even worse. Glad your boys are okay, and it is (hopefully) all over with. Strange when you consider how grateful we can be for those "cooler" 90 degree temps, isn't it?

  16. I'm curious if a horse's breed can have an impact on how they handle the extreme heat? In my horse's paddock the TB (my horse)and the Trakehner were drenched in sweat from nose to tail but the Arab was much less sweaty than the other two. All three are similar in age - late teens. Another Arab at the barn also seemed to fair a bit better than her paddock mates - a Tennessee Walker & a Quarter Horse.

    Just curious if anyone else has noticed if any breeds seem to tolerate this heat better than others?

  17. Marnie - yes, Arabians were originally from the desert and I know they were bred and also adapted themselves SPECIFICALLY to deal with heat. For example, I believe they all have black skin for this reason (if one of my childhood "All About Horses" books was correct). Arabs ability to cope with heat and stress is the reason they are used for endurance competitions. So I'm not surprised you noticed the Arabs at your barn are doing better these days.


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