Saturday, June 07, 2008

extreme heat

We've had unusually high temps the past few days, and today's forecast is 100, tomorrow's is 101, and Monday's is 99. With the humidity factored in, the heat index is even higher.

Thankfully it looks like we'll be back to a high of 90 on Tuesday, with the chance for rain 4-5 days in a row next week. We'll need it by then - the blazing sun and high temps with no rain is doing a number on the pasture.

We struggled with several weeks of extremely high temps each summer for the past few years, and I have a routine for dealing with it. This hot spell caught me off guard though - it's usually August when this happens!

We do night-time turn-out once the daytime temps consistently hit 90, so that the horses can enjoy their grazing during the cooler part of the 24-hour day. I don't lock them in stalls, but I do close up the barn from the sun, turn the big fans on, and give them hay in their mangers so they can munch and rest. Yesterday, in spite of the high temps, there was a breeze, so I also put some hay in the shady parts of paddocks, and they self-regulated most of the day, moving between the stalls and the shaded areas, finding their own comfort.

When it's this hot I also offer cool hosing at least twice during the day. Keil Bay and Salina will nearly always opt to be hosed, and I focus on chest and neck, then groin. Cooling these areas seems to offer the quickest and most effective relief.

On really hot days, when the heat index is over 100, I also offer cold water sponging in between the two hosings. Yesterday even Rafer Johnson, who thus far has not wanted water put on him at all, acquiesced and allowed his chest and neck to be sponged down.

I'm even more meticulous with the water in their drinking tubs than normal when the temps go up. I keep the levels in the big tanks low so I can dump and scrub and refill daily or twice daily, and I make sure their stall buckets stay clean and cool as well. Normally for temps this hot I'd put out big buckets of water with an equine electrolyte mixed in. I've found this is very useful in keeping them hydrated, and they will drink these tubs dry when the weather is this hot.

Today I don't have the electrolyte we normally use - Quench, made by Horsetech, and it's not sold locally so I can't get it. I'm debating whether to go get some Apple A Day from the feed store right now. I love the Quench because it has NO sugar or artificial flavoring or sweeteners. They drink both fine. In a pinch, you can use Gatorade mixed with water.

We muck many times a day during the summer, so the stalls stay clean and comfy.

Fortunately these very hot spells don't last too long, and what feels like incredibly oppressive heat shifts back to just the usual heat of summer.


Grey Horse Matters said...

We are also having a heat wave. It was 58 yesterday 95 today. No time to even get used to the heat gradually. Our horses are being switched to night time turnout tonight also until the heat breaks. They will get hosed down too, not as many times as you do, but still it's a help to cool them off. The fans are going up tonight too. I don't know where this heat came from but I do hope the horses aren't as affected as I feel.

billie said...

Wow, Arlene, that's a quick shift in temps!

We just got in a load of hay and although it's obviously much cooler out there now, it's still quite muggy and the horses are moving slowly. They seem to know not to exert themselves too much.

The hosing does seem to help. I have found that with ours, if we hose them until they heave a big sigh that's about when they've gotten cooler to the touch. It doesn't take long when they haven't just been worked, and we're completely off riding right now until things cool off again.

I ended up getting the Apple A Day electrolyte and I went out about 3 and mixed up two buckets full. They all took nice long drinks immediately. They were all sweating, so I think they needed the boost.

There's a big horse trials this weekend and it blows my mind that people are actually doing a 3-day event in this heat.

Victoria Cummings said...

My routine was just about the same as yours. I put some Apple a Day into a soupy mash for their dinner. Hopefully, it will sit well with Miss Silk - She's strange about electrolytes, but i didn't give her very much. My big concern is that this was the "cool" day compared to what they say is coming at us.

billie said...

Victoria, hope things go well for Silk. I worry so much more about Salina just because she's older, but the heat seems to bother Cody, our 5-year old, more than anyone. His first year in the south was the worst and he seems to get better each summer he lives through here.

Mine are all fine as far as I can tell. Just very laid back.

There are folks locally buying those misting tent things and setting them up so their horses can walk through them and cool off. I'm intrigued but can pretty much be sure Keil Bay would get in the tent and stay there, and the rest would be standing out in the heat waiting for a turn.

Hopefully we'll all get through this w/o too much stress and can move on to more normal summer seasons very soon.

the7msn said...

You know it must be hot when a donkey doesn't run off at the sight of the hose! I just read Victoria's post on the heat wave - you two are certainly living parallel lives. I can't imagine trying to keep a barnful of animals comfortable under those circumstances. Good luck and stay cool. We'll be thinking about you.

billie said...

Linda, the forecast is now revised - 101 today and tomorrow, 97 on Tuesday, then 92, 90's, and 88 by Saturday, with thunderstorms daily starting Wed.

So we have another hot couple days to manage and then hopefully will get relief.

I'm not sure if Rafer Johnson is so hot he wants to be sponged OR if he is doing his usual "if the horses get it I want it too" routine. He still runs from the hose, but water in a bucket with sponge is becoming more and more acceptable to him!

Thanks for the good thoughts. We're hanging in there.