Summer is an amazing time on any farm. The days are long, it’s warm, sunny and beautiful, and the animals are thrilled to be out in their fields after the long winter and muddy spring seasons. However, there are a few drawbacks to the summertime scene- namely the heat and those pesky bugs! Like all other horse owners we are constantly obsessing about our horses’ comfort, and we do everything we can to keep them happy. Here are a few things we like to keep in mind during these hot and buggy summer months:
To beat the heat on really humid days, we make sure to keep rides short so that our horses don’t get too overheated. Most of our guys aren’t in peak fitness, so they tire easily in hot or muggy weather. We make sure to cool them out thoroughly and give them a good long hose down after the ride. To bring their body temperature down quickly, we first hose their chests and under their tails with cool water.
During turn out, we always make sure that everyone has plenty of fresh water and access to shelter or shade if they will be out all day or overnight. For those horses with sensitive, pink-skinned noses, we will often apply sunscreen so that they don’t get a sunburn.
Bugs can really take a toll on the joys of farm life, can’t they? We hadn’t seen too many flies until recently, but suddenly they’re out in full force in and around the barns. At the same time, the deer flies and those other huge ones with a nasty bite now swarm as soon as we hit the trails. We do all we can to fight back: our horses always get turned out with flymasks, and we always get the kind with ears for the most protection. We have crocheted ‘ears’ to put on horses for outside rides, and we have a few handy ‘fly whisks’ which can make hacking out during bug season a bit more tolerable.
Although it isn’t always effective, we figure that flyspray can’t hurt, and we always have a line up of bottles at the ready. We also keep a small army of Swat jars in the barns and out by the shelters in the fields: Swat is great for slathering on the sensitive areas which bugs go for, such as the horses’ chests, bellies, sheath or udder areas, and ears. Plus, it comes in such a great color…who doesn’t love water-resistant hot pink streaked across all of their clothing?
Despite the bugs, heat and humidity, and fabulous farmer’s tans, we all love summer on the farm. Last winter’s epic snow piles are still fresh in our memory, and so we are enjoying these days fully. Stay cool out there, and happy trails!