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Horse Riding in the Summer Heat

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Nothing beats long summer days and warm evenings spent riding  lazy days hacking in the countryside, the showing season and simply enjoying the scenery on horseback.  But when riding on hot days, there are a few things to bear in mind to ensure that the experience is safe, comfortable and enjoyable for both horse and rider.  Here are some tips on riding in hot weather.

When the temperature rises and non- riders are stripping down to shorts and vest tops, it can be very tempting to sacrifice safety in order to maximise short term comfort.

Don’t be tempted to do away with the correct clothing and equipment when riding in the heat.   There are some great lightweight and vented hats available on the market today, so consider investing in a summer riding hat to make your rides more comfortable and avoid the overheating and headaches that can really ruin a lesson or hack.

Nobody wants to wear long lined leather or rubber boots when it’s hot, so a pair of Jodhpur boots or other short riding boots is a better choice for the warmer months.

However warm it gets, remember to cover your arms- a lightweight shirt with long sleeves offers more protection than a t shirt or vest top again scrapes and grazes, and is just as cool.

You’ll probably want to consider using some form of bug repellent for yourself when the flies are out in force, to avoid being bitten to death by the little critters.

Also, remember your sunscreen! The peak of your riding hat will not prevent you from getting a sun burnt face, so use sun protection on your ride just the same as you would at any other time. Don’t forget the exposed back of your neck if your hair doesn’t cover it!

Try to avoid riding during the hottest hours of the day.

Hydration for both horse and rider are more important than ever when it’s hot, so carry water with you, and stop to sip it regularly. Make sure that your horse has constant free access to water when stabled or turned out, and remember that they will drink more during the summer months. When riding, always be attuned to signs of dehydration, heat stroke and heat exhaustion in both yourself and your horse. Look for signs such as rapid breathing and pulse not related to recent exertion, dry skin and mouth, and stumbling, weakness and disorientation. A quick and easy way to check the hydration levels of both horse and rider is by lightly pinching an area of skin such as the back of the hand for the rider or the neck for horses. The skin should spring back quickly, and not take more than a second to return to normal. Any longer than that is a symptom of dehydration, and you should seek shade, cool down, and drink or offer water.

Enjoy riding this summer!