While it might be your priority to keep your horse looking pristine for the show circuit in the upcoming summer months, proper grooming is also vital for your horse’s overall health and comfort. A good thorough grooming has lots of great health benefits, including increasing circulation, gently massaging muscles, and improving the health of their skin, coat, and hooves. It also gives you the opportunity to bond with your horse and feel for any unusual lumps or bumps that might be hiding under their hair.
Here are some tips to help keep your horse clean, comfortable, and cool this summer!
Get Your Kit Together
Every horse grooming bag should contain a few essentials items such as:
Warm, sunny days are the ideal time to give your horse a refreshing bath. After a cold winter of wearing blankets 24/7 and rolling in mud in between, many horses’ coats are left greasy and scruffy. A good bath will help remove the excess dirt and oil left behind and leave your horse feeling fresh and clean!
Always test new shampoos on the skin of your horse first in case of any possible reaction! Once you find a shampoo that works best for you, wet them all over with a bucket of water and sponge, or hose, and then lather in the shampoo. Pay extra attention to the neck, back, and top of the hindquarters.
Rinse thoroughly with clean water and scrape all excess water off using a sweat scarper.
Don’t forget to shampoo the mane and tail and apply conditioner spray to help work out any knots!
Keep in mind that excessively bathing your horse with shampoo might not be suitable for their skin or coat; however, a simple sponge bath using cool water will help remove sweat while also helping them cool down after a long day of riding.
Give Them A Trim
Mane, tail, and coat care is an integral part of keeping your horse cool during the summer months. Trim their mane and tail, and keep their coat clipped if it isn’t shedding out properly to avoid extra, unnecessary warmth. Every other week, take a couple minutes to run the clippers over your horse’s bridlepath to help bridles and halters sit comfortably without interference.
Fungus is also a common issue during wet summer months and clipping their hair short will allow any fungus to be noticed and treated. Horses that are often left outdoors are the most susceptible to skin conditions and keeping a short coat may help.
Protect Them From The Sun and Bugs
Just like with humans, if left unprotected, your horses’ skin can and will get sunburned! One of the most efficient ways to keep them protected is by using a horse shampoo that also provides UV protection and prevents sunburn. You may also try using zinc oxide ointments on exposed hairless areas. Always ensure that you are using products specially formulated for horses, and always read the label and follow instructions carefully.
Another effective way to prevent sun damage is to use a lightweight blanket, also known as horse summer sheet, specifically designed to be used during summer. These sheets act as a cover from the sun but can also be used to protect against any biting pests, such as flies, mosquitoes, and gnats.
When the temperatures rise, summer pests become more active and can be found hiding out on their bare skin and even inside their ears. A horse that must run away or constantly flick its tail to shoo off these pesky insects is expending energy needlessly and running the risk of overheating or contracting complications from these bites.
Use appropriate fly masks and insect sprays to repel flying bugs while your horse is outside, while keeping fly traps set up in your barn or stable to help keep your horse comfortable and bug-free while inside.
Monitor Their Overall Health, Feed, and Water Intake
While baths, sun protection, and horse sheets can all help to keep your horse healthy and comfortable during summer, don’t forget that the overall health of your horse starts from within! Ensure that they have a balanced nutritional diet and always guarantee that they have plenty of access to fresh, clean water.
Keep an eye on how often they are feeding and how much water they are ingesting. Any signs of weight loss should be acknowledged and monitored. Also make sure you check for any injuries, as any unnoticed or ignored injuries can lead to a lot of discomfort for your horse and the attraction of pests that like to surround the wound, leading to further harm.
Additionally, make sure to check for any skin-related diseases such as summer sores, sweet itch, budge bites, and watery eyes.
Finally, having a good shelter for your horse is just as important during summer as it is during winter. Make sure that your horse always has a place to escape the sun, either by giving them access to the barn or building a durable field shelter.
Incorporating these summer grooming tips will help you take a proactive approach to the hot summer months. In addition to providing your horse with a cool place to rest, plenty of fresh water, and a fan to circulate air in the barn, these grooming tips will promote equine health and comfort during the warmest time of the year!