Overheating in Horses

By Karine Burt


Horses sweat for a reason. As the sweat evaporates, it removes heat as well. So heat stroke, heat exhaustion or hyperthermia is a condition that occurs with horses performing a great deal of work in excessively hot or humid conditions. It is more common on extremely humid days because the horse cannot cool off properly inhibiting the process.
When the horse is unable to lose body heat, its body temperature goes up rapidly, causing severe and sometimes fatal health concerns.


Heat Stroke is a dire Emergency!

Symptoms include: A sudden increase of sweating, elevated rectal temperature, rapid breathing, flared nostrils , fast heart rate. If breathing is higher than the heart rate, the horse is severely overheated. Stiffness , Muscle cramps, tremors and not wanting to move, weak, depressed, not wanting to drink water, and severe dehydration.

If this happens CALL Your VET!! 

Until your Vet arrives you can begin cooling your horse off by moving the horse into the shade and spray repeatedly with cold water. Set up fans if you can. Mist your horse with cold water and start applying cold water or alcohol sponges to the flanks, neck and lower extremities.
Alcohol baths evaporates quickly, and pulls heat away from the horse’s body much faster than water alone does.


A cool and easy inexpensive way to cool a horse down. Is having a “neck device Ice jacket”. It cools down the jugular and carotid artery instantly. Zip it open, stuff the ice in the pockets it melts away while it cools your horse, you repack it when needed. This is a great product to have handy.

Allow the horse to sip water as he begins to become interested in drinking. The vet will most likely administer IV fluids or enemas to help your horses hydration and  revive.

While sheltering your horses from the blazing sun, high heat and humidity. Housing a horse in a barn with ceiling fans, floor fans , built in water misters or outside shelters with shady trees is a good safe thing.
Some horses are in the open range. Please take the time to cool them down.
Even though horses bodies do have a natural way to release excess heat, there will be times in extreme excessive heat when they will need your help to cool down. Hosing and misting your horse down with semi cold water, starting with front legs upward and all around is an effective cooling method because heat is transferred from the horse’s muscles and skin to the water, which is then removed to cool the horse. It is critical to scrape the warmed water off immediately, or the water may serve as insulation and might actually increase the horse’s body temperature.

Did you know the absence of wind and moisture, horses tolerate temperatures at or slightly below 0°F. If horses have access to a shelter, they can tolerate temperatures as low as -40°F. However, horses are most comfortable at temperatures between 18 and 59°F, depending on their hair coat.

sweat scraper

To also keep horse hydrated also include electrolytes and salt and mineral blocks.

salt block.jpg

Himalayan Licking Salt blocks contains 84 minerals and traces that are essential for live stock. Himalayan Horse Salt Lick is 100% natural mineral salt lick helps replace lost electrolytes and maintain good health. Hard rock form is difficult for horse to bite off chunks, lasts 5-6 times longer than pressed salt licks. Himalayan Rock Salt is necessary for life same as human and animal classes. Himalayan rock salt is a great source of iron, potassium and magnesium- vital nutrients for maintaining your horses health. 100% natural mineral salt mined from the ancient Himalayan mountains (the purest form of salt available). The best quality rose pink color salt is a result of the high mineral content of iron, potassium and magnesium, all vital for maintaining good health. Safe for all wildlife, including horses, cows, buffalo, camels, sheep, Goats, Pet, white tail deer, elk, caribou, and Zoo & Wild animals.


When your horse needs Electrolytes. These common minerals work together to maintain physiological equilibrium in a sweaty horse, a critical job that is surprisingly easy for you to help with.
Electrolytes help ensure the water your horse drinks makes it to the cells that need it.
Electrolyte supplements are often thought to be needed only by high-level athletes, especially those competing in endurance events, but in reality any horse who sweats for a prolonged period of time can deplete these vital minerals to critical levels. And the consequences in severe cases can range from fatigue and muscle tremors to potentially deadly heat stress and physio-logical exhaustion.
By understanding what electrolytes are, and the conditions that might deplete them, you’ll be better able to identify the situations where your horse might benefit from a supplement. Then, you’ll be in a position to sort through your options and deliver extra electrolytes safely and efficiently.

Equine sweat contains high levels of electrolytes, much more than in human sweat. All those electrolytes in the sweat are lost to the body and must be replenished through diet. But if the sweating is prolonged, and the horse loses too much before he has a chance to replace them, he will start down the path of imbalances and depletions.

Sweating it out

A horse’s ability to sweat is essential. As it works , is muscles break down glycogen and fat for energy, A metabolic process that generates heat.
The electrolytes “unlock” the sweat glands, and fluid pours out onto the skin, where it evaporates—a process that speeds cooling.

spray down.jpg

In addition, the kidneys are very efficient at filtering out excess electrolytes and sending them off to the bladder for elimination. If a horse happens to get too much of something one day, the worst that is likely to happen is a slightly deeper wet spot in the stall. In fact, the only time you really need to worry about your horse’s electrolyte levels is when he’s been engaging in the one physiological process that has the most potential to throw his balances out of whack: sweating—a lot, and for a prolonged period of time.

In conclusion, it’s easy to overthink electrolytes. 

Electrolytes come in different forms pastes, liquids, mineral powders and tablets. Select which one is good for you and your horses life style.
We believe they are an essential and a vital life force of your horse during the summer days and haze.
Think of it is an insurance policy for electrolyte depletion.

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