Summer in the Carolinas is defined by mugginess and heat. Unless your chosen sport is air conditioned (or swimming), exercising outside in heat-stroke inducing temps, in humidity that could drown you, isn’t for the faint of heart.
As being one of the tomato-faced clan when it comes to exercise, I don’t paint a pretty picture in the summer. But pushing looks aside, continuing to ride is important to me and so I soldier on, armed with tank tops and extra water bottles in hand.
I try to ride when it’s below 90°, but that can be tricky on the most scorching days of the season. Anything above 95 is an absolute no. I also like to hide in the covered arena unless it’s ultra early or late in the day and the sun is hidden. And of course I try to watch the horse’s breathing and make sure he’s not getting overheated as well.
As the mercury continues to rise, how do you guys prepare for higher temps? Do you have any pre or post ride tips to help cope with the heat? What do you do for your horse to help him adjust?
HYDRATE. Lots and lots of water before and after you ride.
I’m incredibly susceptible to heat exhaustion, and really don’t do well in hot weather. The move to DC was maybe not the smartest in light of this. Haha.
I try to ride in the early morning or later evening to avoid the worst of the heat. I wear sunscreen liberally to avoid 2nd degree burns (Yeah, that’s happened to me before. Ugh.). The biggest tips for me are:
1. Pre-hydrate (I drink one whole regular nalgene on my way to the barn, on top of my regular hydration).
2. Use electrolytes sparingly (I will dissolve 1/2 to 1 camelbak electrolyte tab in my nalgene. Then I water it down. The electrolyte is necessary, but too much isn’t going to help you. And sugar is dehydrating. If you are craving sugar, you are probably dehydrated and actually craving water. #funfact)
3. Pay attention to your responses. If you’re starting to get light headed when you move too fast, STOP. Hydrate. Cool down. Do not push this. If you are getting cramps or sick to your stomach or a headache, the same thing applies. These are all signs of dehydration/overheating and require immediate attention.
4. Kastel shirts are life. Seriously. I’ve never thought a 90* day was bearable until I bought enough of these to live in. They make summer doable, which is something I never thought I would say.
And for your horse? Mine is on field board, and I usually find him in shade or under the run-in fan during the hottest part of the day. Access to these seems key for him. I will often hose him down before I ride to help him stay cool (neck, chest, haunches especially). I try to keep our rides out of the direct sun, and we take more walk breaks. I also swear by vinegar rinse baths to cut through the sweat build up post ride and keep the flies at bay and the shine high.
I 100% agree with #4! Kastel shirts ARE life. Also the Noble Equine sun shirts are excellent. If, like me, you are tall, both of these brands are great for those long arms and long torsos.
Thankfully it’s not usually that hot here. Although last summer kinda sucked and the early onset high heat this spring has me worried for this summer as well. I try to only ride during the color parts of the day (evening usually) and keep myself hydrated and covered as much as possible.
Unfortunately for those of us here in Central Texas, not riding in temps above 95 might mean not riding at all in the summer. Riding early is definitely better than late when possible, but we also just have to be really conscious and remember to take walk breaks, sponge off during lessons and shows on the hottest days, and drink a ton of water. Most of the horses that have lived here for at least a few years are more acclimated, but summers are just hard. Since last summer I’ve acquired several sun shirts, and I am curious to see how well those work. In the past I’ve always just worn a lot of tank tops.
I never ride after 10 or before 6:30 because the heat is excruciating and I will pass out every single time. Summer is when the black breeches get put away and I only wear my moisture wicking shirts and breeches. The coolmax socks are worth the investment. Gatorade before, water during.
You’re so lucky to have a covered.
I don’t ride until 7 or later when its 80 degrees or higher if I can help it. The field I ride in is mostly shady after 6pm, but the heat still gets to you unless its a little later so I’ll do barn chores, then tack at 7 and start riding. 🙂
I might be the only person that seaks out riding in the heat of the day! My reasoning for this is specific to having an event that is taking place during the hot summer months (ex- when I was taking my Pony Club upper level ratings or going to Nationals, and now looking towards the AEC’s) where there is a good chance I will be riding in the heat of the day. I wanted my own body and my horse to be accustomed to high heat so it wouldn’t bother us as much if we’d been practicing in it all summer long. Though i do my best to always have water or an electrolyte on hand for myself and fresh water for the pony and access to cold water to hose him off with! And sun shirts or men’s dress shirts have been a lifesaver for keeping my arms from turning into crispy appendages!!! If it is just horribly disgustingly hot I might skip the ride or wait till later on in the day just to keep somewhat cooler!