At Charleston Carriage Horse Advocates, we work to protect the health and safety of Charleston’s working equines. But, we also want to make sure that all equines in Charleston receive fair, humane treatment. If you, or someone you know owns a horse or other equine, you’ll want to check out some of our basic care tips to ensure they stay healthy and happy through the summertime.
If you live in Charleston, or anywhere in the southern United States, you probably understand how hot and humid the summertime can be. Because Charleston and the rest of the The South are located in a sub-tropical environment, humidity levels usually range from 70-100%. When these levels reach 75%, it can be difficult for horses to sweat, regardless of the ambient temperature. This can cause severe issues like heatstroke, sunstroke, hyperthermia, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps. To prevent these life-threatening illnesses, it’s important to recognize each of their signs and symptoms, and to regularly reference heat indexes in your area, especially during the summer.
For protection against direct sun exposure, horses must have access to shade throughout the day. Fans (and misters, if available) should also be used in each stall to prevent overheating, or other problems. When it’s especially hot outside, we recommend that you keep your horses in their barns during the day, and let them out to graze at night, when it’s cooler outside.
Healthy horses will typically drink a lot of water. Usually, they’ll at least drink between five and fifteen gallons each day, depending on temperature, humidity, and activity level. To accommodate this, owners should make sure that their horses have access to fresh, cool water at all times. This water should be placed in an area where it cannot be contaminated by fecal and hay debris.
When it comes to stall maintenance, it is important to ensure that your horses are living in a clean, comfortable environment. Urine and particles from dust, hay, and bedding can damage horses respiratory systems over time; so be sure to provide open ventilation and a clean environment for your horse. Damp and/or soiled bedding can also cause severe hoof problems like thrush, so be sure to clean stalls frequently. When cleaning stalls, keep in mind that chlorine bleach is considered a health hazard and should be avoided at all costs.
Stalls should also be structured so that the horse has enough room to move around easily, and lay down. A 12’x12’ stall is ideal for a horse over 1,000 lbs, however the more room available, the more likely the horse is to be comfortable in the stall. To keep stall floors level and easy on their legs, you can install thick rubber mats to provide cushioning and maximum comfort.