With the sweltering summer temperatures looking set to continue, SPILLERS is sharing some essential tips to help keep horses healthy and hydrated.
“So far, 2022 has been one of the hottest and driest summers on record,” said SPILLERS’ product manager, Sarah Nelson. “Knowing how best to keep our precious horses comfortable can be challenging; not only do we need to consider the practicalities of protecting horses from the heat of the sun, but we also need to ensure their digestive systems remain healthy with appropriate hydration and forage intake.”
Sarah has put together seven key tips to help you to help your horse get through the heatwave without getting too hot under the collar.
Keep water supplies fresh, clean and plentiful: fresh grass contains around 80 percent water. Under normal circumstances it may go a long way in meeting requirements but when soaring temperatures have scorched the grass, intake from buckets and troughs could more than double so make sure clean fresh water is always available. Don’t forget to make sure automatic drinkers are working.
Support hydration by using a soaked feed: using soaked feeds is a great way of getting extra fluid on board via the feed but an added benefit is that horses fed mashes may drink more too. Soaked feeds may be especially useful for those who are fussy drinkers.
Don’t prepare soaked feeds in advance: soaking feeds in advance in hot weather can cause them to ferment quickly which is not desirable. Instead choose a fast-soaking mash – some take just five minutes or less to prepare.
Provide a salt lick: for those sweating on a regular basis, table salt (the salt you put on your chips!) is often an effective way of providing additional sodium and chloride. A simple salt lick may be sufficient for many leisure horses.
Beware scorched grass may be high in WSC (includes simple sugars and fructan). While drought and overgrazing inhibits growth, grass continues to produce sugar in sunny conditions. When it can’t be used for growth, this sugar is stored in the stem as fructan which means scorched grass may still be high in water soluble carbohydrates, presenting a hidden danger for laminitics.
Avoid sand colic: the risk of colic from eating sand or soil is much higher in horses grazing close the ground. If coverage is very sparse consider feeding hay or a low calorie hay replacer, ideally in a net, feeder or bucket rather than from the ground.
Count droppings to assess forage intake: although your field may look bare, if your horse or pony is overweight and you are picking up a similar number of droppings feeding additional forage may not be necessary. Yellow grass may not look particularly appetising but if there is enough available it will have a similar energy level to hay which is more than enough to sustain many horses.
Feeding SPILLERS Perform & Restore Mash supports hydration and helps to replace some of the electrolytes lost through sweating. It is high in fibre and low in starch and sugar to support digestive health and reduce the risk of excitability and also includes a delicious apple aroma. Whether or not you need to feed additional salt or an electrolyte supplement (and how much) will depend on how much your horse sweats and his base diet so contact the Care-Line for specific advice.
For more advice on feeding your horse during the heatwave, contact the SPILLERS Care-Line at + 44 (0)1908 226626 or visit their website.