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Keeping Your Horse Healthy This Summer Part 1: Understanding the Issue

With the warmer summer months just around the corner, it is a good time to look at ways to keep your horse cool and safe from heat-related illnesses. In this three-part series, we will look at simple steps you can take this summer to keep your horse healthy.

The Natural Cooling System

As with humans, horses have a natural cooling system that involves sweating. As the sweat evaporates from the skin surface, it creates a cooling effect. Since sweat evaporates less quickly in humidity, the cooling system is compromised in humid conditions. Luckily, humidity is not typically a concern in the Arizona heat. 

As a general rule of thumb, you can determine the efficiency of your horse’s natural cooling system by adding the temperature to the relative humidity percentage. If this total is less than 130, your horse’s cooling efficiency will remain at its most efficient level. If it is between 130 and 150, the efficiency is decreased. Anything greater than 150 cause a significant reduction in efficiency, while anything greater than 180 can be fatal if the horse is stressed. 

Causes of Overheating

When considering overheating issues, it is important to remember that overheating can also be caused by poor barn ventilation, prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, obesity, excessive work and transportation issues.

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