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No Horsing Around: Heat Affects Horses Similarly to People

Posted at 5:43 PM, Jul 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-06 14:44:42-04

TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) -- Thursday was another scorching summer day felt by anyone who stepped outside for more than a minute. And with this heat comes taking care ourselves and household pets, but what about the larger animals? Well, it affects them too.

"When we're riding, and for instance, if we overwork them, we have to be really careful in this heat and humidity," says Paige Osborne, a professional horse trainer. "Some horses don't sweat well, so we have to take extra precaution in that."

Believe it or not, according to equine veterinarians, horses, and people are actually very similar, from the way we sweat to the way that the heat affects us and how we need to be cooled down after heat exhaustion.
"We get them in the shade, put cold water on them," explains Dr. Steve Fisch, a veterinarian at and owner of AVS Equine Hospital. "Ice, if possible. We aim for the jugular vein because it's very close to the surface. We aim for the veins on the leg because they're close to the surface so that cools his blood system."
 
There are tricks of the trade to help keep horses cool. For instance, many put fans in the stables, or simply rinse them after a ride.
 
"I would take them to the wash racks have them rinsed off really well," says Osborne. "When we're rinsing them off, we want to make sure that we don't leave any excess water on them, so we take what's called a sweat scraper and we sweat scrape them off"
 
But even with these measures, some horses can still overheat.
 
Dr. Fisch says his equine hospital sees a few a month due to horses competing in the heat.
 
Whether it's a household animal, or farm animal of any size, the hot summer days will affect them just like it does with humans. This means that they also need a cool place to escape from the heat, even if it's just a shaded area outside. Plenty of fresh water also helps keep them stay hydrated.