Summer is here! Some of you are lucky enough to live in glorious temperate summer locations (helloooo New York) and some of you are slowly melting along with us in Florida, Texas, Georgia and Southern California.
Fear not our dear brave summer riders, we're here to share some of our best hot weather products, tips and tricks!
1. Sunscreen and bug spray. Starting with the obvious, I know But you'd be surprised how many times we see riders with burned arms. Safe skin is in! Plus tomorrow's ride will be waaaay more comfortable without that heating sunburn. And remember it’s still possible to get sunburned in the evening after work.
2. SPF Sun Shirts. God’s gift to southern equestrians. SPF fabric, quarter zip to shield your delicate skin, mesh panels to help catch the slightest breeze. Sigh. You’ve probably heard this before, but your skin will truly stay cooler in sleeves than bare skin in baking sun. There’s totally been studies and everything. Find your favorite and get as many light colored options as you can. Shop our favorites:
3. Tech Shirts. Sam concept as #2 and sometimes come with magical SPF powers. One particular favorite; the Cavallino Marino Tech Polo is exceptionally moisture wicking. And even when you exert too much – er, moisture – it will hide your sweatiness better than you could ever believe.
4. Helmet Visor. Join the retirement crowd and invest in one of these pronto. One, your eyes! Sooo much better. Two, keep that blistering sun off your face and preserve your glowing youth just a little longer.
5. The right undies. You probably haven’t thought about undies a whole lot when trying to cool your scorched face but the seemless, moisture wicking wonders that are Empowered By You undies are seriously magical.
6. Desiccant packets. If you’ve been in the south for any amount of time, you’ve probably stashed these in every compartment you own. Try adding one to your soggy gloves, helmet and boots after a hot ride too. Just be sure to keep them away from pets!
7. Water, wet hair and chilly towels. Keep water, eeeeverywhere. And invest in an awesome ice-saving bottle. Bring it and a Frogg Togg Chilly Pad Cooling Towel ringside in case you need a quick break and have a slurp in the shade while you (and your horse) catch your breath. Wet hair under your helmet can also be a secret weapon on the hottest days if you have a helmet with air vents, every breeze will be amplified. Then dismount, untack and soak both you and your horse head to toe.
8. Hats. We’ll end on an obvious and often overlooked essential. It might seem like that extra layer will trap the heat of your head, but when the sun is high, giving yourself some shade is the best bet. Go wide brimmed for even better protection. Centerline Style hat and sun hats available here.
Tips to Stay Cool
1. Have a plan. Ride early or late. Save the new boots chit-chat for inside the barn after your early ride. Have a lesson plan for your ride to maximize your efforts while keeping you and your pony safe. Do as much work at a walk as you can, focus your trot/canter work on what you really want to accomplish, and keep your ride reasonable in length.
2. Your horse needs water too. There's a persistent myth that it is dangerous to let your horse drink when he is very hot, when in fact it can be very harmful to withhold water. If your horse is hot and breathing heavily after a workout, let him take a few sips of water, then walk him for a minute and let him have another drink and continue this way until he is cooled out.
3. Know when it’s seriously TOO hot. A good rule of thumb for assessing when the heat will affect your health is to measure the Heat Stress Index. If the sum of the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit + the percent of the humidity totals less than 120, go for it! If the sum is higher than 150, particularly if humidity contributes to more than half the number, your horse’s natural cooling mechanisms will be compromised. Consider shortening the workout, going for a hack, riding later in the day.
Temperature °F + Humidity % = HSI
If the HSI is higher than 180, a horse cannot regulate is core body temperature naturally so he should not be forced to work. Hear that Florida?
92 degrees + 90% humidity = 182 HSI
AKA take the day off!
4. Keep your horse hydrated. Dehydration literally means "to remove water.” But horses don’t just lose water when they sweat. They also lose essential minerals and salts, called electrolytes(potassium, sodium, chloride, calcium, magnesium and other ions), which are essential to all of the body’s metabolic processes and nerve functions. Slight dehydration causes little, if any, change in behavior and can be easily remedied by drinking fresh water. Moderate dehydration can cause lethargy. Feed or provide electrolytes and provide access to cool, clean water.
Extra : Keep yourself hydrated! Gatorade and Zip Fizz have electrolytes to keep you hydrated and feeling fresh.
5. Learn from eventers. Take your bridle off as soon as possible so your horse can breathe easily. In extreme heat, spray a 50/50 mixture of rubbing alcohol and cold water over his body to aid sweating.
6. Don’t leave your horse wet. You might think your horse will be cozier if he’s wet but leaving water on his coat actually traps the heat. Your horse’s body heat is transferred from his skin to the water and then it’s your job to scrape it off. So when you cold hose your buddy, make sure to scrape him off well. And when he’s just run cross country or is not cooling sufficiently… icy water with a sponge, scrape, walk a small distance and repeat.
7. Get that air moving. A breeze will go a LONG way in making both you and your horse feel more comfortable. Safely install fans wherever and whenever you can for happier ponies and riders.
8. Don’t be a hero! Heat stroke isn’t pretty. Your coach will understand, your friends won’t judge, and your pony will thank you. If you just can’t take the heat, don’t. Know your body and keep yourself and your horse in top form for all those glorious autumn days that are ahead of us!
Happy riding, loves!