It’s HOT

By Terry Golson

We’re in the middle of a heat wave. Daytime temperatures are in the low 90s (in Celsius mid-30s) and the humidity is almost as high. Horses can overheat, so we have to be careful not to ask our partners to do too much. You’d think we’d be able to escape the heat by riding in cool of the New England woods, but we’re into horse fly and deer fly season. These are vicious blood-eating insects that leave painful welts. Unfortunately, they live in the shady places.

For some horses, armor is necessary. This horse loves his outfit. He knows what it does for him.


Tonka is fine with just his head protection. His tail stays busy fly-swatting.


Always, fresh, clean water is essential, but especially in this weather!


I’m still riding, but I get to the barn right after Tonka has his breakfast, when it’s cooler (though still hot! 80s!) We work in the indoor arena, where it’s shady and the footing is kept damp, so the evaporation helps to cool the air. Still, I’m careful not to overdo it. We do a warmup. Tonka feels happy to move, stretch out, and get some real exercise. Once we feel loose, I focus on one training goal, work towards that, and call it a day.


Then, he’s hosed off to bring down his body temp and clear his skin of itchy sweat. If there are manure stains, I’ll shampoo him. It is show season, and I have to stay on top of the stains. Tonka loves having his face washed off with a big, soft, wet sponge, and he drinks water from the spray nozzle. The wash stall is a happy place.


But Tonka has his own ideas about how to deal with the heat and the biting flies.


I swear that the stone dust that Tonka rolls in acts like an expensive spa treatment. The next day, he’s shiny like this:


Although I think it’s miserably hot, we don’t get into the triple digits here. My horse can cope just fine with the weather. Tonka has an airy stall, a grass paddock with shade and water, and dirt to roll in. As long as I don’t push him too hard under saddle, he’ll be fine in this heat wave.

The animal that I have to worry about is this one. He loves hot weather.

Scooter whines to go outside, then doesn’t even bother to go further than the top of his ramp. He drops down to sunbathe. He gets so hot that he pants and goes limp. I’ve learned to intervene before he gets sunstroke. What is it about little dogs and the sun? Which of your animals loves to sunbathe?

7 thoughts on “It’s HOT

  • Robin

    My family had a black dog of some unknown breed mix (found abandoned and tied to a tree on a back road) who always stretched out in the sun on the deck on hot days. If we touched her fur it was so warm we couldn’t believe she was sunbathing. But she always moved into the shade when she got too warm. My indoor black cat tends not to seek out sunny spots on hot summer days, but in winter she’s sitting in every pool of sunshine she can access – bed, carpet, counter, etc.

  • Tracy

    My JRTs used to squish in between the andirons when I had a fire going, lying literally inches from the flames. Scared the heck out of me many times. You could fry an egg on them.

  • Laura A.

    Here in the California foothills, our temperatures can vary anywhere between 85 and 105 in the summer (but it’s a dry heat, as they like to say!). We had a mini heat wave last week with temps in the high 90s, and I look down at the bottom of my pasture to see all three horses lying down sunbathing in their sandy spot. Seemed too hot to me, but they thought it was perfect for a snooze.

  • Kim

    Two of our dogs love to sunbathe, and the third loves the snow and cold. At our barn we’ve been working on in -hand games like yielding to poll pressure, bending and being comfortable with scary things like tarps and shavings bags. Sometimes you can find a gap in the training that needs to be re-addressed, and as my trainer says: “If it’s too hot to work the muscles, we’ll work the brain!”.

  • Gin

    One of my dogs lays in the sun, the other would rather be in the house near a fan. I leave the horses loaf up in the big barn during the day and turn them out at night. They don’t come out in the lot much in the sun. Just as well as I have to keep sunblock on one of my mares as her white nose burns.

    My black and white spotted horse does the same thing as Tonka after rolling in the dirt, looks all clean and shiny the next day. A black and white horse thing? The two mares keep their dirt until I brush it off.

    I used to have a cat that laid under the heat lamp we had on a cistern pump to keep it from freezing, he actually scorched the hair on his side.

  • Chickencarol

    I now have a mixed flock of bantams. My elderly black game girl stays in the shade when it’s really hot. (Heat wave for us at the moment with an unusual temp of 30). I also have seramas which originate from Malaysia and they love the sun. No matter how hot they will be spread eagled in the run, legs and wings akimbo. They just love to sun bath. I used to worry but I now accept that they know how much they can take.

  • Jan

    Two of my girls love to sunbathe and then paddle in the cold water I put down for them, the others prefer the shade. We have got very hot dry weather as well, been like it for weeks its the longest dry period we have had since 1976. Really need some rain The Forest is tinder dry and you only need one person to get careless or some idiot who thinks it would be fun to set it alight. Jess has not been riding as much as it has been to hot for the ponies and no rain in sight for next two weeks 🙁

Comments are closed.