Poll Recap: Summer Horse Health Challenges

Of the 250 respondents, 110 (44%) said the biggest challenge was keeping their horses cool during extreme heat.

Photo: iStock

Ah, summertime. The time of year when there’s often a surplus of horse activities to attend, more hours of daylight to ride, and competitions to prepare for. But the longer, hotter days can also bring along their own challenges, which means owners must take some extra precautions to keep their horses healthy.  

In last week’s online poll, we asked our readers what horse health issues they found most challenging during the summer months. More than 200 people responded, and we’ve tallied the results!

Of the 250 respondents, 110 (44%) said their biggest challenge is keeping their horses cool during extreme heat. Another 29 individuals (12%) said sunburn is a concern, and 21 people (8%) said dehydration poses a challenge. Some 20 respondents (8%) find heat- and humidity-related respiratory problems challenging, while 9 people (4%) said anhidrosis (the inability to sweat) poses a challenge for their horses in the summer. The remaining 61 respondents (24%) identified other summer horse health challenges that they encounter.

Additionally, more than 80 people commented about their summer horse health issues: 

Many people said insects or insect-related problems pose challenges for them during the summer months:

  • “The darn bugs of various kinds.”
  • “Biting insects and allergic reactions, spraying.”
  • “Insect bites. I feed Bug Off and use a fly sheet, fly boots, and fly mask.”
  • “Keeping the flies and mosquitoes off.”
  • “Flies and mosquitoes”
  • “My mare is allergic to fly bites. It's a big challenge!”
  • “Bugs! They run, rub, and stomp all summer, resulting in weight loss, loss of hair, and chipped hooves.”
  • “Reaction to insect bites.”
  • “Insect bite sensitivity and sweet itch”
  • “Keeping fly population down so the horse flies don't suck their blood and sting them constantly!”
  • “Flies are the worst thing we have here during the summer. We use fly masks and fly spray.”
  • “Extreme dermatitis and itchiness from insect bites.”
  • “Bugs and itchy skin due to high humidity and pollen.”
  • “Biting flies, stable flies, deer flies”
  • “Bites from flies and mosquitoes. I clean and apply fly spray and coconut oil two times per day.”
  • “Aggressive deer and horse flies and mosquitoes. Fly sheet and she is in before dusk until after dawn.”
  • “Not as much a health issue but the biggest we have is flies!”
  • “Flies. Without intervention, the animals are miserable. Fly sheets also help with thermal regulation.”

Some mentioned heat-related challenges they face and how they deal with them:

  • “When the days are over 100°, it's just too hot to ride. I ride at night in the arena with lighting.”
  • “I have a mister in the tree and fans and misters in the barn, and I hoseing her off during hottest part of day.”
  • “Heat-related problems. It's 100-115 degrees here.”
  • “Intense Texas heat is a problem especially for the young horses.”
  • “I have two with Cushing's that I want to keep cool on hot, humid days. It's a struggle for them and me.”

A few people shared that respiratory problems present a challenge:

  • “Equine asthma due to grass pollen (hay fever).”
  • “My horse is having respiratory problems this year for the first time.”
  • “In Northern California, it's dust that cause respiratory problems, can become a chronic dust cough.”

And several people mentioned other equine health challenges they face in the summer:

  • “Allowing enough pasture for happiness, but not over grazing limited acreage.”
  • “I live in Arizona. I make sure my horse has shade covering in his stall, water, food, and salt block.”
  •  “My horse was just diagnosed with photosensitivity, and it has been hard to keep that in check this summer.”
  • “The biggest challenge is keeping their weight down.”
  • “Too much green grass.”
  • “Endurance training in Florida requires riding early in the morning, shorter sessions, and water breaks.”
  • “Dusty dry winds or bowing dirt causes much aggravation to all!”
  • “Headshaking.”
  • “I coat my mare's pink nose with Desitin to protect from the sun.”
  • “Keeping weight. He's a hard keeper and his herdmates are easy keepers so no hay”
  • “Most worrisome are the older metabolic horses with weakened immune systems, under stress.”
  • “My horse has partial anhidrosis. We sponge his neck and chest periodically while riding.”
  • “Mold and allergens flourish in our damp mid-Atlantic area. Allergy shots help a lot.”
  • “Too much rich grass, have to muzzle horses.”
  • “I use sunscreen and fly mask/sheets to prevent sunburn on my Paint mare.”

You can find hot weather horse care tips, learn how to protect your horse from sunburn, read frequently asked questions about keeping horses hydrated, get tips for natural horse farm insect and pest control methods on your horse farm, and much more in our “Summer Care” sub-topic on TheHorse.com!  

This week, we want to know: Have you ever gotten a horse for "free" (without the previous owner asking for compensation)? Vote now and tell us about your experiences at TheHorse.com/polls!  

The results of our weekly polls are published in The Horse Health E-Newsletter, which offers news on diseases, veterinary research, health events, and in-depth articles on common equine health conditions and what you can do to recognize, avoid, or treat them. Sign up for our e-newsletters on our homepage and look for a new poll on TheHorse.com.

About the Author

Jennifer Whittle, TheHorse.com Web Producer

Jennifer Whittle, TheHorse.com Web Producer, is a lifelong horse owner who competes with her Appaloosas in Western performance events. She is a University of Kentucky graduate and holds a bachelor’s degree in Community Communications and Leadership Development, and master's degree in Career, Technical, and Leadership Education. She currently lives on a small farm in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.

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