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Summertime Tips

Wil & Beverly Howe
Wil Howe Ranch Newsletter, Summer 1999


   With summer going into full swing, don't turn your back on your horses you have turned out to pasture. This time of year they can fatten up overnight on the rich green grass and can be very susceptible to foundering. To check if a horse is getting too fat, keep an eye on the crest of his neck, which can become tight and hard. Also, a roll of fat will appear behind his shoulder and, of course, a big belly and a pudgy, fat roll will fill in around the base of his tail. Limiting the time your horse spends on green grass is your best bet for weight management. We find that turning your horse out to pasture at night and dry lotting them in a corral during the day works best, because horses eat less at night as they are more nervous and alert for predators, consequently they are on the move more and can't consume as much feed.

   Another summer tip for those of you who are concerned about your horse's hair coat condition: if your horses are hot and sweaty after working, don’t let them stand in the sun as the salt from the sweat will burn their coats making them dull. Give them a cool-out bath/rinse (thoroughly rinse out all sweat) and be sure that they are out of the sun until they are dry. We tie our horses in our tie stalls in the barn or box stall while they dry before turning them out. The wet hair will burn if left in the sun. Also, horses out on pasture with sprinkler systems that they stand under during the heat of the day will get rough-looking burnt coats if they’re not kept from the sprinklers.

   Most important to remember as a trainer is not to work your horses in the extreme heat of the day. Early mornings or evenings when the temperatures are cooler will allow your horse to accept what he is being asked to do more willingly. The idea is to keep your horse comfortable during training sessions, because when a horse gets hot they can get mad and lose all desire to work for you, and you may end up losing ground in your training progress. If you have competition dates you are working towards, you can’t afford to lose time on your horses. Especially stay away from schooling your horse on cattle in the heat. Both will work better in the cooler time of the day. We normally shade up during the hottest part of the day, feed earlier in the afternoon and start up again when the sun goes down, often riding until late in the cool evenings.

   Have a great summer . . . Happy Trails & Turn Arounds!

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