Coping with Summer Heat and Hard Ground

August 1, 2019 2:47 pm by
Posted in Jayne Ross, News, Products

Whilst warm weather and glorious sunshine has come as a welcome relief to the team at Jayne Ross’ yard following a very wet start to June, hard ground conditions and rising temperatures require careful management to ensure the horses’ welfare. This month, Jayne shares her tips on how to cope at shows, whilst also enjoying some downtime at home with the horses who are not competing during August.

‘By the time you read this, the Longines Royal International Horse Show will be over for another year and some of the horses at the yard are lucky enough to be having a short break. However, for the younger, less experienced ones, we are still going to shows and coping with heat and hard ground can be a challenge. One of the most important things to remember – especially when travelling to and from shows – is to keep the horses hydrated. If you are lucky enough to have an early class, make the most of finding a cool, shady spot for parking your trailer or lorry. We never leave the horses on board for any longer than necessary and allow them to graze in hand to help them keep cool and relaxed, before and after their classes.

Given the warm, dry weather we are now encountering, firm ground will inevitably take its toll on the horses, so we are very careful not to overdo their work ahead of a big show. Such conditions can be testing and during the summer months, steps should be taken to minimise the chance of strain and injuries. With more and more horses nowadays exercised on a surface, feet and legs can become accustomed to such environments, resulting in a higher chance of bruised soles, jarring and splints when hard conditions are experienced. To help minimise the risk, we regularly pack our horses’ feet with Magic® Cushion, which has a padding effect to take the sting out of solid terrain. It is extremely sticky and stays put in the hoof for a good while without the need for packing or wrapping. Don’t forget to keep hooves moisturised too – hoof polish is great at shows, but a good hoof oil used regularly at home will maintain the moisture balance and stop the hoof becoming dry and at risk of cracks. Hooflex® Natural Dressing does the job perfectly!

I am often asked about studs for the show ring and on solid ground you are sometimes better off without as it will mean less pressure on the horse’s joints. However, small, sharp studs can be useful on well-watered ground, so it’s a good idea to keep your stud box and tools on the lorry. We are very fortunate to have showgrounds like Hickstead, where the ground team water consistently in the run up to events such as the Royal International.

When the horses are finished at a show, we wash down with Absorbine’s CoolDown® which smells lovely and works wonders to lift out the sweat, leaving them cool and refreshed. There is no need to rinse it off either, so it’s an economical use of water. We wrap legs with Bigeloil® Poultice Wraps to soothe and cool during the journey home, which we find are a much cleaner, easier alternative to other clays and gels on the market and they really do the job.

Don’t forget to look after yourself too and just like the horses, you must remember to keep yourself fed and watered. Long classes standing out in the heat can take its toll, so ensure you have packed the lorry with plenty of water and snacks. A sugar hit such as an ice cream always comes as a welcome treat once all of your classes are finished too!
Now that August is here, we are able to enjoy some downtime ahead of the run up to HOYS in October. The older and more experienced horses are given a week or two to relax and refresh and we use this time to let them enjoy being horses; they so deserve it after all of their hard work. We make the most of our time and enjoy hacking out, which allows them to take a breath and absorb the season so far.

For the horses whose workload has decreased, its crucial not to over-feed and keep a careful eye on their weight. Adding some salt or a salt lick will help to replace minerals, as they can sweat just whilst standing in their stables. When the rain does come again the grass will shoot up, so we will be extra vigilant – particularly with anything that is prone to getting laminitis.

For those who remain in work, our daily routine alters to accommodate the change in temperature. We tend to work anything that needs it very early in the morning – sometimes before they have had breakfast – and we then muck out after we have ridden. The horses get a nice cold hose after they have worked and can dry off and relax in their stables. They get turned out in the evenings and overnight, rather than in the heat of the day. We use fly sheets and UltraShield® Fly Masks to keep the flies and sun off and prevent their coats from becoming bleached. Be careful if horses are out with a friend, as the flies can often encourage tail chewing and rubbing. We never leave headcollars on in the field if it is hot as sweat can build up underneath the headcollar and blister, but if absolute necessary to leave a headcollar on, make sure it is leather.

Summer Essentials
Hooflex® Magic Cushion works to reduce hoof heat and cushions sore feet; we love it for use before and after shows where the horses have worked particularly hard. Simply take a small, golf ball sized amount and press it into the sole of the hoof, making sure that the hoof is dry and clean before you begin.

UltraShield® Fly Spray is a must have, especially when out and about at shows. It provides a long-lasting ‘shield’ to protect against insects and is handy for home use too as it can be used around stables and fields.