Tips for hot weather riding

Get thos boots off as quickly as possible, work in the shade, apply plenty of water and scrape, scrape, scrape! If you have a fan the size of this one at the Australian International 3DE, even better

 

With the heatwave in some parts of Australia horse riders need to take particular care when exercising their horses. In extreme conditions, maybe it’s just better for you and your horse to take a few days off but if you need to exercise your horse, here are some quick tips;

  • If exercising your horse on a hot day, try and do it before 9am when the heat starts to build. Morning exercise is better than evening as the air temperature is cooler and not only is it cooler to work in for you and your horse but your horse will be able to cool quicker afterwards

 

  • Do you really need to do fast work today? There are lots of exercises you could practise without doing aerobic work which generates a lot of heat. How about perfecting your square halt, rein back or long rein walk? Increasing activity using the turn on the haunches or walk pirouette? If you do faster work, keep the session short and give your horse lots of breaks at the walk on a long rein (as William Fox-Pitt says, eventers are terrible at giving their horses breaks during work!)

 

  • As we’ve all done or seen at top level events, the fastest way to cool your horse after exercise is using a hose or bucket to apply large amounts of cool water to your horse. Then thoroughly remove all of the water with a scraper – this takes the warmed water from the coat and removes the heat with it. Pay particular attention to areas such as the topline, neck, and underbelly. Keeping hosing and scraping until your horse is cool

 

  • As far as possible try and do all of your preparation e.g. saddling up and post-ride cooling etc. in a shady area – even better if you can ride in the shade and in an area with good airflow

 

  • Always remove your leg wraps, boots or bandages as quickly as possible after riding. A horse’s tendons are made of stretchy fibres which generate heat internally. During exercise tendons can heat to 45-46˚C and continue to heat up after exercise has finished for 5-10 minutes. It is essential therefore to remove any leg protection immediately after exercise and hose off the lower limbs to minimise internal damage

 

  • Hooves heat up quickly too, especially on synthetic riding surfaces. Try to avoid working on dark arena surfaces (rubber etc.) and hose your horse’s hooves after work, remembering to dry the pasterns carefully and apply hoof oil as hooves dry out and crack easily in this weather

 

  • Use air currents after hosing to help cool your horse by natural convention. If there is a breeze, stand your horse in an area where he can benefit from the natural air currents e.g. tied up in the shade or stable laneway (often stables don’t allow enough air flow). You can also use an electric fan but ensure that any electric cords are safely out of the way and that the fan cannot be knocked over

 

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