Summer Heat Stress in Horses

Tips for Summer Heat Stress

Summer heat has arrived. The increasing temperatures not only make working outside uncomfortable for us, but they also have a major impact on our horses and their overall performance. Negative responses to heat stress include going off feed, decreased fertility and overall poor performance.

Reduce Summer Heat Stress Horses
Figure 1. Temperature-humidity index (THI) and heat stress categories

Some have hypothesized that it is not just the extent of heat stress alone that affects animals, but also the duration of heat stress. It is also hypothesized that the minimum threshold where animals begin experiencing heat stress is a function of the demands on the animal.

In addition to simple management practices like providing abundant water and shade, and not working horses during extreme heat, we can also manage heat stress from the inside out. Feeding Amaferm® during times of heat stress has multiple benefits including improved digestibility and increased energy availability. In fact, research published on Amaferm and heat stress found that:

  • Amaferm increased water intake by 9.5%.
  • Amaferm significantly reduced rectal temperature when ambient temperature was greater than 98.6°F.

In addition to incorporating Amaferm into your horses diet through one of these products, use these tips to keep your horse cool this summer.

  1. Water: Ensure that your horses have plenty of fresh, clean, cool water to drink. An average sized work horse can drink more than 25 gallons of water per day when the temperature is above 70 degrees.
  2. Shade: It is important to have a place for your horses to escape from the summer sun. Where that is a shaded area in the pasture or bringing them into the barn during the heat of the day it will allow them to avoid the heat.
  3. Ventilation: A breeze helps cool anyone down. Using fans are a great way to keep the air moving in your barn.
  4. Manage turn out times: If your horse is stalled, but turned out for part of the day choose that time period wisely. Overnight is ideal, however if that is not possible choose early morning or late evening.