Summer and/or Florida showed up this past week in Texas, making for some face-melting days of heat and humidity. At first undeterred, I still planned to show Eli on Sunday, but after a long hot day outside on Saturday I could tell I was not at all acclimated to the heat and since Eli had only been sporadically ridden for the past three weeks because of rain and a sprung shoe, I decided to scratch our classes, which would have been in the afternoon when the heat index was about 102F. Maybe other people can ride in those conditions but I can’t.
I thought it might be helpful to share a few resources about exercising your horse in the heat in light of my own brain being so melted that other people’s words might be more clear.
The first is this lovely heat index chart. On Sunday afternoon the temperature was 91F and the humidity had lowered as the day wore on to 65%, making the heat index somewhere between 103F and 108F. More information is available via the National Weather Service.
SmartPak offers some advice about taking all factors into consideration when deciding whether it is too hot to ride.
Pro Equine Grooms, one of my favorite sites for good information about horse care, looks at the time of day, your horse’s fitness level, and the intensity of the work as factors that can help to determine whether it’s too hot to ride.
Horse Network, formerly Horse Collaborative, separates fact from fiction about horses in the heat, addressing both hydration and salt intake.
And last, an enlightening article focusing on how heat affects horses points out that horses are far more sensitive to heat than humans, so their fitness level is extremely important.
There are also some formulas floating around that suggested adding the temperature and humidity together and if the sum is above a certain number, don’t ride. Depending on what the sum is–different sums are out there–it could be too hot to ride, even dangerously hot. Because there is no consensus on the sum and some suggest a number so low that in Texas, we’d never ride, I haven’t linked to any of that because I didn’t find it particularly helpful. Plus I suck at math.
So when do y’all call it too hot to ride and opt to keep your horse out of the heat?