Not only is summer one of the best seasons, but it is the perfect season to take your horse out of the stable to go riding. Summer brings out warmer weather, sunny days, and time to plan out different activities with your horse such as trail riding. Even though summer is an exciting time for both you and your horse, it is important to know how to keep yourself and your horse safe during the summer riding season. Below are a few tips on how you can accomplish and ensure a safe riding season.
1. Hydration is KEY
Due to warmer temperatures, hydration is really key in the summer for both you and your horse. Make sure to provide/pack plenty of water for you both before, during, and after a summer riding session. Horses need about 5 gallons of water per day to maintain body temperature. In extreme heat, horses will need more than 5 gallons of water due to working harder. You should both drink water every 15 minutes during the ride to stay hydrated. If you don’t stay hydrated, you run the risk of possible heat stroke, dizziness, and heat stress.
The food that you eat before a summer ride is extremely important. You should choose foods that are nourishing, energizing, and that have high amounts of fiber. Some examples of good food to eat before are granola bars, fruits, and vegetables. Make sure to allocate plenty of time for your horse to eat before you decide to go for a ride. If not, the horse could be sluggish and that potentially leads to cramps. Eating before also allows both of you to stay alert while on the ride.
3. Sun Gear
There are a few tips to specifically follow in regard to sun gear. First, apply sunscreen to yourself and then to your horse to prevent sunburn and sun poisoning; you can only use sunscreen that does not contain para-aminobenzoic acid on horses. Also, if your horse has pink skin around its eyes or muzzle, the UV rays could eventually cause cancer so make sure to buy UV-blocking fly masks. Fly repellant will also be a great product to pack for both you and your horse too. In regard to the rider, the type of clothing you wear in warmer temperatures matters. Make sure to wear lighter colors and fabric that can help regulate your body temperature. Popular fabrics include Dri-fit, Coolmax, or Airmax. Your horse should have the proper tack and it should be cleaned before you start the riding session.
4. Safety Tips
Make sure that both you and your horse get plenty of rest the night before a summer riding session. If the weather is very hot on the day you planned for a ride, keep the vents or windows open to allow your horse to breathe in fresh air and park in a shaded area. As the rider, it is important to have a cell phone on hand just in case, have a physical map of the trail, and bring a first aid kit to be safe. In regard to your horse, make sure to bring rope, a hoof pick, and possibly medication. Ask your veterinarian if you can obtain prescription anti-inflammatories just in case your horse has any flare-ups during the ride.
5. Warm-Up Routine
It is definitely important to have a defined warm-up routine before starting a long summer riding session. Drinking plenty of water and fueling your bodies comes first. Apply any riding gear to your horse and add sunscreen to both of your bodies. Also, both you and your horse should make sure to stretch before starting a potential strenuous ride; a good warm-up prevents both of you from cramping up or overheating quickly. Take a quick test ride for 5-10 minutes to make sure you both are feeling up to a summer ride.
6. Cool Down Routine
A cool-down routine is imperative to make sure that both you and your horse are feeling okay after a strenuous ride. Watch for any heavy, uneven breathing and sweating on your horse. If you happen to see those symptoms, immediately lead your horse to the shade or water. As the rider, if you feel nausea or overheating, make sure that you sit down and place a cold towel around your neck. Hydration after the ride is important for both of you so you can restore your body temperatures. After you hydrate, both of you should have some sort of electrolytes to bring your energy levels back up. Once you both are refreshed, remove the equipment off of your horse to keep it in mint condition. Reward yourself and your horse with a nutritious meal once you get home.
Summer riding sessions can be a fun experience for both you and your horse. Make sure to keep the above tips in mind before you plan out a ride though. Visit our website if you have any questions on summer riding safety tips.