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Tuesday, 14 October 2008 21:17

Horses suffer in summer heat

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Many horse owners don't seem to realise how hot it gets below a winter double rug along with a neck rug and head cover.

SPCA and MAF get quite a few complaints from concerned people that horse owners are causing stress to their animals now that the intense summer heat has arrived.  This is especially a concern for horses over the holidays when their owners are away.

Horses in training are not the problem as they are not standing around day in, day out all rugged up.  They are in peak condition and have a regular work routine.

The heavy winter rug is now far too hot and should be changed for a light summer cover.  Covers also provide an excellent environment for parasites and excess sweating can cause skin disorders as well as heat stress.  Providing shade and a good supply of clean fresh water are also top priorities 

Covers should be removed regularly and the animal inspected.  The animal should be treated for parasites as part of this regular inspection.  While owners are trying to stop their horse's coat from fading and keeping the animal clean, they may easily be causing the animal considerable stress.  

Special care of horses over the summer holiday period is very important.  People going away should arrange for someone to check their animals regularly.


Dr Clive Dalton

Clive did a Ph.D. in sheep breeding at the University of North Wales at Bangor. After lecturing at Leeds University, he came to New Zealand to do research with MAF. Because of his communication skills, he moved to the Ruakura Agricultural Research Centre to be fully involved in interpreting science for practical application by farmers.

After 14 years he moved to teach at the Waikato Polytechnic where he taught young future farmers. He won the 1993 Landcorp Communicator of the Year award and the 1999 Sir Arthur Ward award for agricultural communication.