I have had a steep learning curve since moving to the South of France about keeping cool during the summer. As I sit here in my apartment right now it is 35 degrees celsius and it is 8pm! I do get used to it, however the first week of each summer is tough!
I would like to share with you some of my top tips for keeping you and your horse cool this summer.
1. WATER WATER WATER! Don’t under estimate how much water you need. The National Health Service recommends that we drink 1.2 litres of water a day and that we may need up to 2.5 litres when the weather is hot. Our horses need between 5 -15 gallons of water per day.
2. Sun Protection. I always like to look tanned. However in trying to get brown I used to get sun burnt quite often. Now, I have discovered sun protection tops and have not looked back. I always ride in one now, I have an Ariat one and a Equetech one and they are both great. They are long sleeved tops that have lace down the underside of the arms to keep you cool and I swear by them. No more getting sunburnt and you don’t feel too hot either. I forget I’m not wearing a t-shirt! I bought my Equetech one pictured below from Boudica Equestrian
3. Sun tan lotion. If you can’t resist getting your skin out then make sure you are plastered in sun tan lotion. I wear it EVERYDAY in Toulouse. It’s part of my morning routine. I have recently started using factor 50 as my Spanish friends couldn’t believe that I was only using factor 30 and I have a nice tan and have not been burnt once. I definitely recommend!
4. More protection from the sun. At the stables I also always wear a cap apart from when I am riding, when obviously I wear my helmet! Protect your face. Nobody wants a leather face! You also may have noticed if you follow me on instagram that I also always wear sun glasses. I cannot bear to squint. Perhaps they aren’t the best to ride in (not my fashion ones anyway as I always have to stop them falling off my face) but they are great for when you aren’t riding. Make sure you buy glasses that have UV protection – be aware that not all glasses have that.
5. Fly Protection. With the heat comes the flies. Mya is so sensitive to flies she wears a fly rug and a fly mask every day in her field. Maybe not all horses need that but I would deffo advice a fly mask and to find a good anti fly spray as a minimum. I can’t imagine how uncomfortable it is for them to be covered in flies. Also in France I need mozzy spray too for myself. I cover myself before I go to the stables (or anywhere else) and I also place citronella candles on the window ledges of my apartment to keep the mosquitoes away.
6. Pick when to ride carefully. I can only really ride in the morning here. As the evenings are the hottest part of the day. But obviously this would not suit everyone. Plan your day accordingly. Did you know that according to Practical Horseman Magazine horses can sweat up to 3-5 gallons of water a day?!
7. More water. I always hose Mya down if she is really sweaty. Horse and Hound have published research showing that it is perfectly fine to hose your horse down and not scrape the water off, as there was a popular belief that hosing a horse and leaving water on him would make him hotter – wrong! Also I find a cold shower works wonders for humans too. If you don’t want a full cold shower, I frequently just shower off my feet with cold water and I find that really cools me off.
8. Fans. Only rely on fans & air conditioners if it is exceptionally hot. I do not normally use a fan or air con in my apartment and this allows my body to actually get used to the heat. If you constantly sit in front of a fan it’s refreshing but it doesn’t allow your body to get used to the heat. When there is a heat wave here of course I use a fan but I try to avoid it at home if possible. At work and in the car is a different ball game – I deffo need it in the car and if you are busy at work it would be impossible to be productive if you are sweating your bits off! I am just talking lounging at home here!
9. Shade. Mya lives out all year. But she does have a field shelter where she can hide from the sun or the rain. She uses it a lot! Her owner has even fitted a little fan in her field shelter. If your horse does not have a shelter, he should definitely have trees to hide under to escape the sun. The same for humans. I always walk in the shade and avoid the sun for most of the day if I can. If I am outside, I always sit in the shade as it is just too hot otherwise. Seek out those shady spots! You won’t regret it!
10. Keep your windows shut. If the temperature reaches above 30 degrees, it is actually hotter outside than it is inside. This felt really unnatural for me as a brit who craved the sun, however now in the summer the windows are shut and so are my shutters. It really does keep my apartment cooler. The windows can be opened before 10am and after 9pm (but be careful of mozzy’s in the evenings) but the rest of the day, I leave the place in darkness even if I am there! It feels weird at first, but you will get used to it.
I hope you have found my top tips for keeping you and your horse cool useful. Let me know if you have any ideas of your own in the comments!
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Copyright of Louise Dando & In Due Horse 2019.