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Is You Horse Hot or Overheated?

Riding your horse during the summer is a tricky situation to handle. Yes, you want him to get hot and sweat just like you do during your ride, but it’s important for you to be able to differentiate between “hot” and “too hot”. Horses can become overheated very quickly which can lead to serious problems like heat stroke. Use these guidelines to monitor your horse this summer and keep him from becoming overheated.

Respiratory Rate

You should expect your horse’s breathing to remain elevated during and after a workout. He may breathe rapidly while you’re getting untacked and hosing off, but his respiratory rate should return to normal within a few minutes. If he’s breathing fast without just being exercised or if his respiratory rate doesn’t start to calm down once you’re finished, there’s a chance there is a more serious issue that you should talk to your vet about.

Body Temperature

If you’re worried about how your horse is coping with the heat, use a rectal thermometer to take his temperature. If it’s elevated by a degree or two—about 102 to 103 degrees Fahrenheit—hose him down with cool water and stand him in a shady spot. If possible, position him in front of or under a fan. Take his temperature again in 10 minutes. If it has dropped, he’s probably just hot. If it hasn’t, he’s overheating and needs more intense cooling efforts. If it’s 104 degrees or higher, he needs immediate veterinary attention.


A horse who isn’t as sweaty as you’d expect for the conditions, or has hot and dry skin when others around him are damp, may have anhidrosis. Anhidrosis is a serious condition in which a horse loses the ability to sweat. It’s a sign of heat stress and a reason to call your veterinarian. 


A hot horse still will be animated when you wave a treat in front of him or interested in his friends when they walk by. Any horse who seems hot and is also unresponsive to his surroundings is significantly compromised by heat and needs help immediately.

Original article: Is You Horse Hot or Overheated? | Horse and Rider

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