Everyone’s been waiting for summer, and now that it’s here, there’s a good chance we’ll find something about it that makes us anxious for fall. After all, summer has its own unique challenges for our horses, our farm, our tack, and ourselves. So here are some tips to keep your stable happy this summer.
Leather does not love humid summer days. If mildew and green mold begin to creep into your tack room, it’s time for some climate control. To start, be sure you wipe your tack dry after cleaning. (We know you clean your tack after every ride!) Then, find ways to remove the moisture from your tack’s storage area — an air conditioner unit or a dehumidifier — or possibly removing the tack from the moisture, by bringing your saddle and bridle into your home.
A barn full of flies on a hot summer evening is not a happy barn. Get ready for fly season by reducing the bugs’ breeding opportunities. Leaky faucets and standing water contribute to the mosquito population, while flies live for manure. Be proactive about removing manure from the barn, and keep your manure pile far from the barn, to reduce a possible fly infestation. You can also reduce their numbers by ordering fly predators, which destroy fly pupa before they can develop into a winged menace biting everyone in the barn. I wrote more about fly control in an older blog, https://equinefacilitydesign.com/equine-care/fly-control-for-stables-2.htm.
Keep horses happy by keeping them cool and hydrated. Watch those hydration levels, even on horses not in work, on those stifling summer days. An easy dehydration test is the skin-pinch: just take hold of loose skin on your horse’s neck and pull it out gently. A hydrated horse’s skin will pop right back into place. A dehydrated horse will have a ridge left behind for a few minutes. Keep electrolytes handy to keep horses drinking, and try a little flavored sports drink or a bran mash to get water in dehydrated horses. Cool showers, followed by a quick sweat-scraping to get excess water off, are great for bringing a horse’s body temperature down.
Don’t forget that you can bring the air temperature down. A cooling breeze from a fan can go a long way.
Just about everything that will make your tack, barn, and horses happy, also works to keep riders on the farm happy! Keep cool drinks on hand, watch the weather, and make smart decisions about severe heat indices and the potential for lightning storms. It’s going to be a hot summer — but everyone can still have a great time at the barn!