Over the stable door
Greetings Fellow Equines and Horse Owners!
I trust that we have all survived the hot spell. It has been a trying time for horse owners keeping their neddies cool and protected from the sun.
The ground has dried out more than it has for years and much ground cover has died off. When the ground becomes bare (say less than 80% coverage), owners need to be aware of the risk of colic as horses scrounge around looking for those extra bites! Sandy soil is probably the most risky of soil types, as it can settle in the horses’ gut and not pass through. But any soil carries a risk if there is no forage for the horse. When they are hungry they will eat almost anything, even poisonous weeds such as Salvation Jane etc. What to do? Well, keeping your horse supplied with some low sugar but good quality hay will certainly help. They are hard-wired to continually graze, so for both physical and mental well-being, plenty of ad lib bulk is a safe way to go. If you can’t be around for that daily topping up, then slow feeder hay nets are very useful. They generally come in all sizes from pony through to bale size. Even a round bale is useful, but there can be quite a lot of waste with that as what drops on the ground gets trampled.
In the hot weather they will also tend to stand around in whatever shade they can find and just ‘chill’. This also works well for them for getting away from the flies. As I mentioned last month, providing shelters, fly veils, creams and sprays can all help. Good idea to check daily, particularly with the older horse as tear ducts can be attacked by flies and will need to be cleaned out. If you are lucky enough to have dung beetles in your paddocks, they will help to reduce the fly population and also help to control worm reinfestation. You will know if you have them if, when you turn over a pile of dung there are lots of little holes bored into the ground – or you might even see all the little beetles burrowing into the ground as you disturb the manure. There are dung beetles for different seasons. So there are summer, winter, spring and autumn beetles. If you don’t have them, there is a breeder in the hills where they can be purchased. The beetles take the nutrients from the dung down into the soil, so they are very useful little critters.
My owners have been riding early in the morning to avoid the hotter period of the day. Also on those hot days me and my mates get a lovely hose down. They don’t scrape the water off any more as it has been discovered that we actually cool off better just letting the water evaporating off our bodies, rather than scraping it off. However, they do make sure that the pastern and fetlock area is well dried in case of any greasy heel appearing. One of my mates is prone to this, so extra care needed!
Keep cool everyone and look forward to some rain!