Horses in Hot Weather

During periods of hot weather it is important to monitor your horses for signs of heat stress.

Heat stress occurs when horses are exposed to excessively hot or humid conditions. Like humans, horses sweat to get rid of surplus body heat. When the horse is unable to shed excess body heat, the body temperature rises quickly, causing severe (and sometimes fatal) health problems.

Exposure to a very hot or humid environment, combined with poor ventilation, can lead to heat stress. Other factors can include high level of physical stress, excessive exercising, increased weight (obesity), respiratory diseases

Signs of heat stress

  • Restlessness/lethargy/agitation
  • Rapid pulse and breathing
  • Heavy breathing/panting
  • Increased sweating
  • Excessive salivation
  • Redness of the tongue / oral area
  • High body temperature
  • Erratic heart beat
  • Muscle spasms
  • Stumbling gait
  • Collapse

During hot humid weather …

  • Avoid exercising in the hottest part of the day
  • Avoid transporting horses in the hottest part of the day
  • Do not rug
  • Provide plenty of shade
  • Make sure there is a permanent supply of clean fresh water; Change out the water in a trough if it becomes too warm
  • Hose your horse down or take them for a swim, scrape off excess water
  • Monitor vulnerable horses: very young, very old, unattended horses in the community

For clubs and events organisers see our Hot Weather Procedures guide.

heat stress in horses

Heat Stress in Horses. Right click in the image to save it.