The sudden on set of hot and humid days can create a huge problem for competing horses through dehydration.
We are all aware that water is the source of life and neither humans or animals can survive without it, a horse for instance weighing 500kg contains 300 litres of water which constantly needs replenishing to prevent dehydration.
Drinking is the obvious source of fluid intake, however some feed stuffs can also provide significant amounts of water that will influence how much water your horse drinks. During a normal day a horse can consume up to 30 litres of water however on a hot day this demand goes up to 50-60 litres.
Intense exercise is not the only cause of loss of fluid, travelling or schooling on hot, humid days can also cause dehydration.
On arrival at shows or competition the horse, where possible, should be stood in the shade if possible, washed off and given as much water as required.
If your horse is fussy about drinking whilst away from home, which can be a worry, take water from home which is familiar or flavoured with some mint, apple juice or liquidised carrots.
Also consider feeding soaked hay or haylage which have a higher moisture content as this will also help to hydrate the horse.
Performance will be compromised if your horse becomes dehydrated, so be aware of the day's weather conditions and keep water available at all times. Sever effects of dehydration or heat stroke is very distressing for the horse and the handler.
Excessive sweating is not the only visible sign of dehydration, the horse will begin to stagger as if drunk, have wobbly legs, drop their head and become very unpredictable and erratic.
If this happens try and keep the horse walking, making sure you are on grass or a soft surface as the horse may go down at any moment, cover the horse with as much cold water as you can and keep pouring until your horse stops staggering.
Try and get the horse to drink as much water as they can and keep walking around away from any hazards or people.
It can take up to half an hour or more for your horse to start recovering, The more severe case of dehydration is more likely to be seen after very strenuous activity such as racing, endurance or eventing. Always be very aware and act quickly if there is any suspicion, time is of the essence to avoid further distress to your horse.
More realted horse health articles click here HOW MUCH WATER DOES YOUR HORSE NEED