With longer days and warmer temps, life on a farm or ranch presents a whole new set of uncomfortable challenges. Heat, inclement weather, and bugs are all obstacles warm weather brings to the agricultural community. Livestock owners must sometimes get creative when it comes to ensuring their animals are comfortable and healthy. Today we’ve put together a list of ways to keep your horses happy during the heat of the summer. Sun protection for horses is high on the list, along with ways to keep bugs at bay so your time in the barn is more enjoyable.
Bug and Sun Protection for Horses
Summer at the barn is a pretty great way to spend your time. Hours in the saddle, cleaning stalls, grooming and working horses is a great way to get dirty and have some fun. Especially considering the current health climate, being outdoors is not only great for your physical health but your mental health too. As any horse person knows, summer at the barn can be hot. Keeping yourself and your four-legged friends protected from the sun can be a challenge. Here are a few tips to keep you and your horse cool and protected from harmful UV rays when the sun is out and shining!
- Natural Shade – If at all possible, boarding your horses or planting natural shade is ideal when it comes to sun protection for you and your animals. Horses can be pretty destructive, so wrapping existing full-grown trees in chain-link or another barrier to keep them from chewing the bark off is best. If you own your own property, planting sturdy, solid trees that’ll grow with your animals is also another great way to combat those harsh summer rays. They won’t always utilize the shade, but on long, cloudless days, natural shade is ideal to protect your horse from sunburn.
- Shade structures – Shelters to get out of the weather are important at any time of year. During the summer, however, having shade structures with open access for your horses is a good idea to help protect them from direct sunlight. It also gives them a place to stand when storms roll in. If you’ve got more than one horse together, having more than one option might be necessary.
- Sunscreen – While horses with dark skin are still affected by overexposure to harsh sun, horses with pink skin tend to burn and peel. This is especially true for horses with lighter skin around their muzzle and eyes. If you have a horse that tends to burn and peel in the long summer months, using an animal-friendly sunblock like 4 Ring Protection’s No Burn lotions can be a great option. The ingredients are all-natural, so it won’t harm your animals when used. It’s also ok for the environment, so if it gets on plants or in the water you won’t need to worry about the added risk. Added benefit? You can use it too.
- Spray misters – Misters in the barn aren’t always an option if you’re on a budget, but there are plenty of small, handheld and battery operated misters that can come in handy at the barn.
- Stay hydrated – While it won’t protect you from UV rays, staying hydrated is the number one way to beat heat-related illnesses and keep yourself cool. Having constant access to clean, cool but not cold water will help keep you and your horse cool during the heat. Even hosing yourself and your equine friend down can help keep your body temperature at an acceptable level.
- Ventilation – An indoor arena with air conditioning and heat would be great, right? Unfortunately, that isn’t in the cards for a majority of horse owners, so getting creative with your cooling efforts may be necessary. Open up your barn as much as possible, and if you’re able, get some big barn fans or box fans to help get air moving. Since our bodies utilize sweat to cool down, a draft is necessary to help the sweat evaporate. While it won’t make things cooler in the environment around you, it’ll help you and your horse cool down naturally.
Don’t let the summer heat keep you from spending time in the saddle. It can get miserable if it’s too hot, and protecting yourself from UV rays is important for your long term health. Got any other tips to stay cool at the barn? Let us know in the comments!