Well, summer is here to stay, and your horse could be susceptible to heat stress. Have you heard of heat stress? Do you know you can help prevent this in your horse with more than just electrolytes? We asked Dr. Lattimer, ADM’s Equine Nutritionist, to dive into the topic of heat stress and how you can better support your horse throughout the hot summer months.
“There are two stressors of summer for horses: heat and insects,” Lattimer notes. “You can identify heat stress [by] excessive or profuse sweating, hot skin, rapid breathing, rapid pulse; they may be weak or stumble around a bit. Also, if you can take a quick temperature check, a hot internal temperature over 102 up to 105 is a key indicator. If they are over 105, that’s heat stroke, and a 110 temp will kill a horse. Immediately stop riding, get them in the shade, and getting a fan on them is even better. You may think ‘Get really cold water and drench them,’ but that can be a big shock to their system. Start with their feet and legs [using] regular hose water and gradually work up to the body. And, of course, give them access to drinking water,” he adds.
“One thing that has a huge impact on heat stress is the heat index,” Lattimer continues. “You take the temp (Fahrenheit) and you add the relative percent of humidity. If that sum is below 120, then you should have no problem riding that horse; it’s not a high-risk heat index. Above that to 150, you can still ride, but you need to be mindful [that] it’s easier to overheat and get into heat stroke. Over 150, we may need to rethink: ‘Do we need to exercise right now?’. Florida, Texas and Arizona, for example, are hot areas, and many professionals will ride at night due to the heat index. If it’s over 160, you shouldn’t exercise at that point in the day period. At that level, the humidity goes up and their ability to dissipate body heat goes down.”
Lattimer has more tips about horses’ susceptibility to heat stroke and how to support them beyond electrolytes. For example, “An overweight horse has an increased risk for heat stress,” he says. “You want to make sure you keep your horse at a normal body index of 5. Make sure they drink plenty of water, and all horses should have a salt block. Again, all horses should have a salt block. That will help with water intake, even if they are on an electrolyte supplement. Make sure you are not over-delivering protein in their diet. When the body works, it burns protein, and it raises their body heat.”
Further, Lattimer remarks, “an electrolyte will not help your horse dissipate heat. Meaning disperse the heat from their body. For example, a breeze dissipates heat. You want to look for something that has a benzodilator. It dilates the blood vessels and helps the horse’s body dissipate heat easier. Naturally, stress impacts gut health; so ingredients to support gut health and deliver dietary nucleotides are also important. Garlic also aides in helping repel insects.”
To help your horse withstand the heat, Lattimer suggests considering ADM’s Summer Care. “It’s great for the working horse in the summer heat or [horses that are] prone to heat stress. It contains Thermal Care® (capsaicin), which is designed to combat the challenges of heat stress. It works as a benzodilator, and it helps the horse’s body to dissipate heat. It dilates blood vessels; therefore it works more efficiently. It also contains CitriStim®, a proprietary active yeast that has been shown to support gut function/integrity. We also have our Cell Rate® dietary nucleotides. These are the building blocks of DNA and RNA. The body is using those for cell replication and natural cell turnover. We can deliver those [through the diet], and it helps the body out and repairs cells in the area of heat stress, or stress in general. It also contains Garlium, [an] extremely concentrated form of garlic. There are a lot of garlics out there, and how well concentrated they are determines how well it works against insects,” Lattimer concludes.
Heat Support with ADM Summer Care
Forage First® Summer Care is a specially developed supplement to help your horse with the hot summer months and heat abatement. It contains a unique concentrate of ADM ingredients that can support your horse physiological challenges with heat, no matter the work at hand. The main makeup of these patented ingredients are Thermal Care, CitriStim®, Garlium and Cell Rate. Learn more about this incredibly helpful supplement here.
To read about more topics we cover with ADM's Equine Nutritionist, Dr. James Lattimer head back to the pro's page here.