How to protect your horse from the effects of climate change

Are you worried about climate change and how its effects are impacting your horses? Here are a few steps you can take to keep your herd safe.

Between record hot temperatures and smoky air, the summer months have become a dreaded time for many people and their horses. Thanks to climate changes, pastures, barns, and fences are burning to the ground, along with our animals. Those that survive are often at risk of respiratory tract and overall health issues, and are left to deal with unseasonably cold temperatures once winter arrives. So what can you do to keep your horses as safe as possible during these trying times?

Develop schedules

Extreme and extended weather changes affect your horse’s physical and emotional health, elevating stress levels. Help keep them calm and happy with consistency. Feeding times, living environment, exercise intensity, and turnout schedules give your horses something they can count on, which provides comfort during tumultuous change.

Prepare ahead

Water shortages and poor air quality come with excessive heat – so do your best to get ahead of it! When seeding your fields, choose drought-tolerate turf and ground cover for grazing. You can also plant some trees and foliage on your property to help boost air quality. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and other toxins, cool the environment, and emit organic compounds that form ozone and carbon.

Avoid water troubles

Climate change has led to an increase of flooding. If your area floods, you’ll need to remove your horse from the mud. Excess moisture can lead to several problems. The hoof becomes soft and mushy,  prone to infectious diseases like thrush. Eventually, soles can deteriorate entirely. Provide areas for the hooves to dry out. Build some drainage, and do your best to eliminate stagnant water – it’s a haven for insects. Apple cider vinegar is an excellent natural insecticide that can be used internally in feed or water and sprayed externally on the horse or insect breeding ground.

Protect your horse’s hooves and help them maintain their integrity and strength by using hoof boots. They’ll provide protection from the elements, keep feet dry, and help preserve hoof dressings and poultices. Remember, you can easily block the drainage holes in your Cavallos with duct tape when required.

Keep them cool…

Healthy horses have a natural ability to regulate body temperature, but when change happens too rapidly, their respiration and heart rate quickly accelerate. On top of that, hair follicles cannot raise quickly enough to provide an appropriate layer of insulation. Keep plenty of fresh water available, give salt to keep your horse drinking and electrolytes to restore what is perspired. Strategically place fans to circulate and cool the air, and try to keep exercise to a minimum.

…but not too cold

Provide defense against wind and other extreme effects of plummeting temperatures. The combination of cold, wet, and wind can be deadly. Your horse needs shelter, enough feed to maintain body temperature while burning up calories and water that is a drinkable temperature. Blanket only when necessary to avoid compromising your horses’ natural insulating abilities. A small heat lamp can help your horse make the transition into cooler temperatures. If providing a heater, keep it on low and phase it out as your horse acclimates.

All beings on the planet are experiencing significant climate change. Fortunately, as horse people, we have the strength and integrity to weather the storms.