5 horsey jobs you must do in July
Now that summer has finally arrived, the horsey jobs get distinctly different as the temperatures start to climb...
Provide a continuous supply of water
The single, most important job for all of us horse owners without question, is to ensure that our horses have a constant and sufficient supply of fresh and clean water. Water that has been left to stand for too long will become warm and possibly unpalatable. Remember that horses can easily consume more than double their normal water intake in hot weather, so be prepared for this.
Adjust your riding routine
Summer is a great time to ride, but summer heat can be dangerous for horses. So, horse owners need to take extra care during the hot weather when riding and adjust key elements of their routine:
- Plan your riding so that you avoid riding during the hottest part of the day. Ride early in the morning, i.e. 7.00am, or later in the evening, i.e. 8.00pm.
- Reduce riding intensity and duration
- Keep the work light and include frequent breaks
- Wear hi-viz as even in bright sunshine, patches of shade can make it difficult for drivers to spot you and your horse on the road
- Take tack off as soon as you’re done and wash your horse off with cool water.
Get sun protection
Protection from the sun is as important for horses as it is for humans. Pale-faced horses, like fair-skinned people, need protection from the sun. White faced horses or horses with white noses are very prone to sunburn. So, make sure your horse’s face is covered with a fly mask that has UV protection. Equine sun protection products will help prevent sunburn which can become both painful and unsightly.
Look out for sun creams that have high UV protection such as the Gold Label Sunguard.
Just as you planned for your horse’s hoof care when it was cold and wet, you also need to plan for it when it’s hot and dry. Any time the hoof does not have regular contact with water, “contraction” becomes a risk. Hoof “contraction” is a shrinking, or drying out, of structures of the frog, bulb and white line which all contain large amounts of water. Consequently horse's shoes become loose, or, worse still, come off altogether.
Treating your horse’s hooves with a topical application will help to prevent the hooves from drying out and to help get moisture back into dry hooves but do bear in mind that this will not take the place of natural moisture.
A popular choice with farriers, Kevin Bacon's Hoof Dressing prevents the hoof from drying out in hot weather.
Look out for Ragwort
Common Ragwort or “Senecio jacobaea” as it is known, is a prevalent weed that grows throughout the British Isles. It thrives on wasteland and road verges, often spreading to fields where horses are kept or turned out. This time of the year, it’s easy to spot its distinctive, bright yellow flowers.
Whilst it's recognised as an important plant for pollinators, the plant has poisonous properties to which horses are particularly susceptible. Ragwort has a bitter taste when it’s alive and it’s this that makes some horse owners assume that their horse will not consume it. While it’s true that ragwort would not normally be a horse’s food of choice, as the plant naturally wilts, it loses its bitter taste and becomes more palatable to horses while retaining its toxic properties. So, it must never be left in fields where horses graze.
The easiest way to remove it, is by pulling the whole plant up, including the roots. Do bear in mind that ragwort can regenerate from root fragments, so it’s important to remove as much of the root as possible.
Over to you!
Do you have any horsey rituals you follow at this time of year? Share them in the comments below, you never know your tip may just help someone else!