Things to do when it's super hot!
I can't be the only one with limited normal riding time because of the heat! On weekdays I work so I can't ride I the early morning when it's cool. However, I still want to ride and school my horse! I still visit and give him baths and snacks and love but after less than an hour I'm done. He's out on pasture so while I can hand graze, it doesn't do much.
Here's things that are "heat friendly" that I've been doing. Please feel free to add your own.
- working on bareback riding (walk, stop, turning, light trotting)
- training my horse to stop when I come off
- refining one rein stops
- intro level bridleless work
- teaching neck reining
- intro trick training (smile, bow, pick up feet, etc)
- desensitizing/bombproofing (quietly presenting scary objects one at a time)
- working on simple obstacles
- refining turn on forehand, turn on haunches, sidepass
- reminding that whoa means whoa
- introducing various reinless stop signals (seat, bridle, etc)
- loading into various types of trailers
- playing with a ball (bought the biggest exercise ball that I could find. Not as big as a jolly ball. Cheaper but less durable)
- trail walking (rope halter, 12-14 foot lead line and I walk and lead him)
Indirect horsey activities:
- practice driving the trailer
- cleaning the trailer
- seal the trailer floors
- organizing tack
- gather up things to be sold
- sell them!
- audit clinics and events
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Whew, must not be that hot where you are. We had heat index from 105-110 this weekend. Other than going outside to hose off the horses and hand graze them in the shade, it was too hot to do anything. Forget getting on, by the time i finished hosing them, i was ready to jump in the pool.
It was about the same and has been off and on all week. My Arab doesn't mind moving around in the heat though. Giving him some bits of work (and all the above stuff was almost all walking) keeps him from galloping around like an idiot in his paddock as much and he also harasses his herd less about "exercise time".
I figure that he's built for the heat, but I'm not (I also have exercise induced asthma) so as long as we stop a lot for water, whatever I can do, he can do. I don't mind the heat so much either. I keep a half frozen camel back with me and I put wet towels on him when we trail walk until we get to the water, then we walk A LOT in the creek. I refresh his towels before we come back.
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I've been doing a lot of that too, and also trying to get rid of my gelding's fear of the trailer. He's only ever been in one once in his life and that was like four years ago. (He's only 5.) I've just been taking it nice and slow since it's been so hot :)
Warning - a recently read research paper states that horses are more susceptible to heat stress than we are because of their body mass. When the temps shoot up I just do things with them in the barn as there's a big fan blowing in there and it's fairly comfortable. Horses without shade will suffer the most.
The best I do in a heat is brushing and hosing.
P.S. Frankly I don't think loading in trailer (especially nervous horse that can sweat easily), riding bareback, or even ground work are "heat-friendly".
It doesn't get to be quite 110 here, but we get 95 degree days with 80% humidity. I used to take hour long jumping lessons, and still take four or five hour trail rides in that heat. Yea we stop for hosing off, or walking through the canals, but it doesn't stop us from working. We had a horse over heat once, but he was 22 and fat. I don't know if I could do that in 110 degrees though.
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I think you're overestimating what I'm doing :)
I was talking about bareback riding in the sense of doing a very slow meander, not a working gait by any stretch of the imagination. About the pace they move around in the field. It's really more of a "wander around quietly while I sit here" thing. My horse hasn't done bareback and I haven't much either so it's just keeping things nice and quiet. No galloping off into the sunset!
Groundwork as in walking, stopping, turning, introducing things like side passing. Not at "working" speeds. Not doing things like trying to trot it canter in hand or hard corrections. Low pressure, easy chance for success goals. Getting a horse to learn to move away by pressing a finger to his shoulder is not going to inspire a heat stroke. But little things like that which are so handy for a horse to know often get overlooked when the weather is friendlier for riding. I wouldn't think someone would try a lunging session!
Loading in a trailer again doesn't have to be a scary experience and obviously with the heat you're not keeping at it until the horse is on. However, trying to get the horse to walk up to it, next to it, learn to stand tied to it -- that's all both groundwork and trailer work -- low pressure, easy chances for success. Heck even setting a bucket at the far edge of a trailer and getting a horse to eat from that is a success to some!
Of course a good horse owner should be taking the level of heat, heat tolerance and temperament of their horse in question. Also sometimes it's hit but still rideable but you simply don't feel like it but not everyone can rattle off a list of other things to do, and that is what this thread was supposed to accomplish. Bear in mind that common sense and observation should be applied. On a super hot day, I wouldn't walk my horse on a 3 mile trail, but half a mile to the creek and back wont cause harm. Especially if it's a super slow walk with lots of grazing and cow staring LOL
The key to doing things in the heat are knowing limitations, being sensible and keeping things low pressure with super lowered goals (as low as one foot stepping right is a success if need be) and lots of chances for the horse to earn a "good boy".
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Hmm... Things I do, I'm on a showing schedual so I have to ride some days. If its too hot then I just don't but our heat here is humid heat so our 30 degress feels like 40+ most days. So thats about 104 in farenheit and up. So on my flatting days I will do a 20 min ride doing:
transition work, circles, bending / flextion, go threw eq. tests and eq. patterns or a somewhat high level dressage test. Make my own little tests:
ex. Halt at X, I will halt, then rein back 5 steps, stand for 5 seconds, turn on the haunches left, turn on the forehand right, turn on the haunches right, turn on the forhand left canter 6 strides halt.
A great exercise I do is a sitting/posting trot. Sit one stride, post one stride, sit 2, post 2, sit 3, post 3, sit 4, post 4 exc up to about 20. If you can get that high. Its actually a lot harder than you would exepect it to be. Then do the same with cantering. Then you can canter 1 stride, trot 1 step, canter 2 strides, post 2 steps, exc. exc. Lotta fun!!
These exercises are great for hot weather because to do this your horse really just can go around in a natural frame of where ever they are comfortable and can be on a loose rein. This will keep them fit like a normal ride would, it helps them to really move from their hind end because your not fussing around with their heads or your legs you just focusing on you and going around the ring. :)
Set poles on the ground to work with strides. Take my stirrups off the saddle to work on me the whole ride. Set poles to work on canter/counter canter exercises. Do exercises with my reins completely on the buckel to work on my seat with communication.
A lot of my rides during the week inbetween shows is to work on me and my riding/position. We have one day that we jump so the others ones I basically use a tune up for me and little things with my horse.
Last year I was at the barn early. This barn stalls are done by a tractor in the barn isle so I cant tack up there and they feed around 8:30. At my last barn my horse would be --IN-- from turn out by 7am. They where a early start barn, and they had a fully air conditioned barn and indoor arena and and outdoor had lots of shade. It was great for the summer I loved being done riding by 9 am. It made going to work after soo much easier! It was soo nice. I would get on by 7:30 and i could do a full hour ride before it got too bad out. Now I'm lucky if I can get on before 9. It kinda sucks but thats the ONE downside of my barn and theres 10000 other good things.
Maybe I"m the only one to think this but at shows you can do 3 courses, warm ups, flat classes exc. Be on your horse for a while and have them outside exc. It's really funny to me that 1- you can't really prepair your horse for a show, no one at home is going to jump that much in realy hot weather if you don't have to
2- The horses are fine at a show and its mostly the rider who is more tired/hot ( if your horse is fit exc. But now its july so all horses should be fit by now )
I always think of that when im going to ride. No i don't want to work my horse more than I need to but I always have it in the back of my head that at a show she will have to work harder in the heat so no matter what I do at home a show will be more work.
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