When summertime rolls around, the sun is blazing, humidity is high, and the temperatures are close to being in the triple digits, it’s hard to think about a long training session with your horse. When he’s sweating just from standing in his stall or pasture it seems like it would be impossible to keep him hydrated if you actually put him through a workout.
While this can be a difficult task, there are ways you can keep your horse cool and hydrated through a long ride. Here are a few tips to put to use when the weather is extra hot this summer, plus a recipe for a healthy, electrolyte-filled treat.
Take Water Breaks
When your horse starts sweating, that means you need to help him replace the water he’s losing. Keep a bucket or water trough in your arena so you can easily stop for quick water breaks. Your horse will be much happier and more attentive during your ride if he’s offered a few water breaks throughout your training session.
Tip: Keep a water bottle for yourself in your arena so you are staying hydrated, too!
Monitor Water Intake
If you start your ride off with a dehydrated horse, you’re setting yourself up for a major problem. Monitor his water intake on a regular basis so you know he is hydrated and ready to work when the time comes. A normal horse of average size will drink 6 to10 gallons of water per day when he’s not working. If he’s working, he’ll need as much as five times more. Monitor your horse’s water intake, so you’ll know he’s drinking enough. To do so, count the swallows. It takes approximately 25 to 30 swallows for your horse to consume one gallon of water.
Give a Post Ride Drink
Voluntary drinking during the early recovery stage after exercise is critical for replacing the water and electrolytes lost through sweat. Discard the notion that allowing your horse to drink his fill will cause him to colic, cramp, or tie up. If your horse cools down before being given water, he might lose the incentive to drink and won’t be able to hydrate when he needs to.
Tip: Studies have shown that horses will voluntarily drink more within the first hour after exercising if the water is about 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
After a particularly long and sweaty training session, it’s a good idea to replenish your horse’s electrolytes. This is similar to when you drink a sports drink with sodium and electrolytes after a hard workout. It will help him rehydrate and recover quickly and avoid any injuries or illness due to dehydration.
Types of Electrolytes:
Paste: A tube of paste electrolytes is great for fast and convenient replacement of electrolytes for your horse. Depending on the brand and your horse’s weight, you will give your horse around 15-60 cc of paste before or after your ride.
Powder: Great for buying in bulk, powder electrolytes are also a good choice for replacing your horse’s electrolytes. The powder is usually flavored so it can also be used as an incentive to get your horse to drink water.
Tip: Pour a cold bottle of your favorite sports drink into your horse’s water bucket to give them a sweet treat that will help them replace electrolytes and encourage them to drink more water.
Recipe for Electrolyte Cookies
Feel free to experiment with your horse’s favorite taste treats. Ranges of ingredients are given. Start out with the smaller amounts, and adjust if the dough seems too gooey or too dry. It should be about the same consistency as a tube of prepared cookie dough.
- 2-3 cups of a combination of grain and oats (rolled, crimped, or instant oatmeal)
- 3 cups of bran
- ¾ to 1 cup of molasses
- ¾ cup maple or pancake syrup (skip this if you want to limit sugars)
- 1 to 1¾ cup hot water or corn oil (or a mixture of the two)
- 24 oz. of powdered electrolytes
- Shredded carrots, chopped dehydrated apples, or other horse goodies
Step 1. Mix all ingredients together into a dough. If you’ve added extra goodies, you’ll probably have to add extra water to get the right consistency.
Step 2. Place spoonfuls of dough on a cookie sheet (greased if using a conventional sheet) or in muffin cups.
Step 3. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, but watch closely. Depending on your proportions, there may be a tendency to burn. Cook until firm.
Step 4. Remove from cookie sheet. Place on a cooling rack immediately.
Step 5. Store. Store the cookies in plastic zip-close bags.
— Courtesy of Endurance.Net