Extreme Weather Riding

This topic contains 32 replies, has 18 voices, and was last updated by TBeventer TBeventer 2 years, 2 months ago.

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  • TBeventer Original Poster TBeventer
    Topics Started: 3Replies Posted: 22

    I used to be the type of person that would train no matter what the weather was in not only riding but other sports as well. I always felt like training during extremes would help if it happened during a competition (like the time I did cross country when it was 103, or a dressage test during a blizzard). As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that it’s okay to take time off due to illness or injury and have accepted my amateur status as I have started a non-riding career. I’m actually a physical education teacher and teach my students about alternatives during extreme weather.

    I live in Phoenix, AZ and just received a warning for excessive heat 112-113 degrees for the next couple of days while it has normally been a high of about 106. Should I give my mare a couple days off during excessive heat? I mean, I’ve always been concerned about myself, hydration, and sun exposure but what effect does it have on horses? The same goes for extreme drops in temperature? I’ve always been good about giving plenty of breaks, and sometimes double-rinsing my mare after I ride during extreme heat but would it be best to just give her days off during such extremes?

    pheets pheets
    Topics Started: 5Replies Posted: 475

    If I don’t think it’s in MY best interest to work in the heat, I certainly wouldn’t ask it of my horse(s). I am in New England and those kinds of temps are not common tho it does get hot here, just not as sustained maybe..

    Sure there's right and wrong but mostly there's just a whole lotta different.

    Joan Fry
    Topics Started: 11Replies Posted: 324

    The effect of heat on horses–good question. I think it depends to some degree (sorry, unintentional pun) on the breed. Desert-bred horses (Arabians) and the breeds derived from them probably do better in extreme heat than bigger breeds with thick manes and heavy feathering on their legs that help keep them warm. Around here (high desert but not yet above 100), owners consider shade–protection from the sun itself–more important than the actual temperature. I’ve owned three horses since moving here, and they all got plenty of time off during periods of extreme heat. Professionals work their horses in the pre-dawn hours and are finished by daylight. I am not a morning person, so I longe my horses and/or take a brief trail ride in the evening, but not every day.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    I always let my horse off if I think it is either too hot or too cold for me. If possible in hot weather, I either ride really early or after sunset, and if too cold, I try for the middle of the day, when the sun is at its warmest. Of course, if the ring is frozen the temperature doesn’t matter – I just don’t ride. In summer months, if you have shady trails available, a nice gentle amble is enough.

    It is never the horse's fault

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Had I read your reply, I would not have posted myself – we essentially said the same thing!

    It is never the horse's fault

    Mapale Mapale
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 421

    Here in the South the consideration is not just temperature but also humidity. Once the temperature goes over 81 degrees (sounds tepid compared to yours) I start factoring in humidity. The rule being that the sum of temperature + humidity should not exceed 130-140. If I work in the ‘red zone’ >140, I administer electrolytes, but I’d rather ride early in the day or skip it altogether. You are fortunate to live in a climate where humidity is so low and the heat is more comfortable. I lived out West for years and loved it.

    I convert hot humid days into liberty training days which still works my horses’ minds, less so their bodies, but we don’t get those types of temperatures here. I guess the question you must ask yourself is it worth the risk to ride in that heat? It wouldn’t be for me.

    Alois Podhajsky: “When I hear somebody talk about a horse being stupid, I figure it’s a sure sign that animal has outfoxed them. ...

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Well said – sometimes our heat is tolerable (ESVA), but the humidity is so bad one cannot comfortably walk from the barn to the ring. On days like that, we just play learning games in the barn, if we do anything at all (we is me and my horse).

    It is never the horse's fault

    Joan Fry
    Topics Started: 11Replies Posted: 324

    eventer, faced with temps like the ones you describe, I’d either be inside or in the pool! I know Tucson has its monsoons–had the bad luck to visit a friend during one–and I don’t know how anyone rides there! (High temps and high humidity–felt as tho I were living in Belize again!) I like the idea of doing liberty work/learning games if you think your horse needs the exercise. I have a new horse. I work Scout in late afternoon, free-longeing. Nobody taught him to do that (he’s 16), and it’s a lot of fun to teach him new voice cues (he’s an ASB but I have a dressage background). Joe-Joe, forgot to ask if you’ve been following Deb Bennett’s articles in EQUUS about the evolution of various horse breeds. The most recent one is on Arabians. You could read it aloud to your horse!

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    No, but I will look. I did have a dream that I was trying to get my horse in the back of my car (Ford Focus) so we could go home and watch training videos. It did not work, because the cats got in the way.

    It is never the horse's fault

    Joan Fry
    Topics Started: 11Replies Posted: 324

    The cats made me laugh. You certainly have interesting dreams! Hmm. Maybe I should read Bennett’s first article, about which “types” of horses developed where in the world, aloud to Scout. I would be leaning my back against a post in the turnout ring and Scout would be hanging out next to the water trough, both of us in the shade. Live person (with carrots in her pocket) would work better than a radio, I bet.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    I had read something that day about having a horse watch another horse have something done that frightens the watcher so s/he could see that it was safe. Apparently, I had some sort of idea that having him watch videos would teach him dressage. No idea how the cats got in there!

    It is never the horse's fault

    DBpilots DBpilots
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    I am in north central TX July/ August we get temps 105 plus sometimes for weeks. Humidity is low 28 to40%.. I ride my 22 yr old QH every other day. I am on him by 7Am 15 mins of jogging some light loping, lots of walking, backing, side passing etc..I finish by 745, i give my lessons 7-9am..nights to me are to hot, if it was 106 for a high at 8pm its still in the 100s..early morns are usually mid to high 80s… I watch him closely and never tax him.. he hardly is breathing hard after 15 mins of jogging..I came from up north, so the heat bothered me at first.. now i give him 2 months off in the winter, but ride July and august.. Keep the dew point and temp combo in mind, and use common sense.. my horse loves the early morning rides and looks froward to them…In the end some horses just handle the heat better than others. I am blessed with a horse that the heat does not bother..:)

    Medically Retired
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    Please, Please, Please call your veterinarian for his/her opinion. I once sold my warmblood mare to a wonderful lady in Arizona. My mare, Yes MY mare as once I am with them from conception to birth they will always be mine even if they have gone on to live with somebody else, was extremely intelligent and talented and was able to perform at a level of doing canter pirouettes, etc. There was a long hot spell and the poor girl foundered. She was in excruciating pain. She was kept in as cool an area as possible with fans running. She eventually had to be put to sleep to end her pain. The attending vet told her owner he has many cases of foundering in hot weather every year.
    This was a complete surprise to me and the new owner/rider. I live in California and used to train in 3-day and was used to riding in all types of weather as you stated you have done. After this heart wrenching experience ask your vet if this was a unique, horrible experience or if what that particular vet said, that it is a common occurrence in Arizona heat and save your own heart wrenching experience. Be safe.

    Joan Fry
    Topics Started: 11Replies Posted: 324

    Wow, thank you for sharing that, Medic. I hadn’t heard that either, but I haven’t lived anyplace with such extreme humidity. Well, that’s not true, I lived in the rain forest with my anthropologist husband for a while. Mostly the Maya didn’t have horses. Now they are more common. I was told by someone living in FL that horses moving to FL had a very hard time adjusting to the humidity and the bugs and fungi, etc. that go hand in hand with humidity. Some never did adjust. But horses born there were okay. OP, I’d listen to Medic’s advice and consult your veterinarian.

    Margo
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 3

    Horses tolerate heat less well than cold (can’t you tell by their energy level?), but neither extreme is good. I don’t know what work level you and your critter are used to, but I would give the horse minimal work, lots of shade and water available. After riding, hose off, and if possible ride to a creek where your horse can enjoy it. This is a chance to introduce your horse to a lawn sprinkler as an obstacle! You’ve got a lot of good advice from others here.

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