Surviving the heat

Let's talk about heat.
Bast came home from the vet just in time for a huge heat wave to hit the whole Eastern half of the US. Even for a place known for oppressively hot and humid summers, it has been gross. Thankfully the worst of things (read: Heat Advisories for temps feeling like 120°) resolved a few weeks ago, and the oppressive humidity has dropped some. That's left us with a strings of days hitting in the 90s with more moderate humidity.

As a person who borderline hates summer, this has not been ideal weather to ramp up the routines for my boys. Still, I'm nothing if not dedicated to getting it done, despite the horror that can be hot weather.

How do we survive? Let's start by looking at things I do to help the horses.

Fly Boots
Oh hai. You like my boots?
Both Pig and Bast are barefoot. In the dry summer months when the flies are at their worst, this means fly boots are a necessity. Without them both boys succumb to sore and overly chipped feet from repeatedly stomping on the hard ground. Pig especially is known to scrape off large portions of his body trying to rid himself of the torment that is flies.

Salt and Electrolytes
Grain? Or salt lick?
Pig is a heavy sweater. When he was in full work, I always supplemented his diet on riding days with Apple A Day electrolytes. He loves the taste, making it easy to get him to eat and drink when showing in the heat. Plus, I always noticed an increase in his energy levels on hot days when he was getting his e-lytes.

Bast isn't such a heavy sweater, but he doesn't handle the heat as well as Pig (who I believe may be actually part fire). He melts in the sun, and starts breathing heavily pretty quickly. With his history of ulcers, I am reluctant to feed full electrolytes in the same way as I did with Pig (plus, Bast hates Apple A Day). To compromise, I started both boys on loose salt added to their feed. I've noticed both seem to enjoy the extra salt and are spending less time licking their tongues raw on the salt licks. Bast still melts in the sun, but I rest much easier knowing he's getting the salt he needs to support his needs. When needed I do supplement Bast with electrolytes, I just have to douse them with molasses so he'll eat them.

Sticking to Shade
Deep woods hill climbs. Still hot, but not murderous.
Because I work a full time job, most of my riding is restricted to the worst times of day. A late afternoon or early evening ride takes place under the hottest sun and with the highest temperatures. An early morning ride leaves us struggling to breath in humid air more akin to soup. With this in mind, I try to ensure most of our rides is in the shade. We climb hills deep in the woods, or stick to the more shaded edges of the fields. When there's no shade to be had, we'll retreat to the indoor where the large windows allow us to get the most of any air movement. Any work in the sun is rewarded with break periods in the shade to recover. All the time spend in the hot sun can be exhausting!
The edges of the field are where it's at on a hot day. Just ask those happy dogs.
Water Spritzes
Got this photo from a barn friend, and just about died. It's so perfectly Pig.
Just like us, the horses enjoy cooling down by playing in water. This is a place where a bigger boarding barn can really work in your horse's favor. During the worst of the heat, the barn staff were willing to spray down the horses on their daily checks. In addition, barn friends and fellow boarders have taken time out of their day to spray down my horses, something I'm hugely thankful to them for doing! Both boys enjoy their bath times, and I am lucky to be able to provide so many cool down opportunities for them.

For me there are another few coping mechanisms I follow:

Cool and Sun-Repellent Clothing
We match. Both in the amount of teal we have on, and in the amount of sweat we're drowning in.
I burn easily, and am also very susceptible to sun poisoning. With this in mind, almost all my summer endeavors find me decked out in sun-wear. I live in my Kastel Denmark shirts when at the barn. These things are years old at this point, and still stand up to the brutal sun and rough treatment of barn work. I love that they still wash up looking new!
Dork hat deployed.
This year I also invested in a sun hat. I have put off buying on of these hilarious things purely because of the look. However, working a horse show at a facility with no shade left me desperate for anything to cover my ears and neck. This hat was actually really helpful. It is super lightweight, and has a ton of airflow. It's more comfortable than my go-to baseball caps, and it keeps more of me hidden from the sun. I definitely have to give this a thumbs up. Great investment for the summer, even if I look a bit dorky.

Electrolytes and Nutrition
Okay, not exactly what I mean when I say "nutrition" but damn these Stroopwaffle McFlurries are good!!
Just like my horses, my own salt content needs to be watched. Sometimes I feel like Pig and I are in a competition to see which of us can sweat more in a day. That means I'm always trying to replenish my salt levels, and keep my electrolytes balanced. As a younger adult, I struggled with low e-lyte levels and sun stroke. Now, I make sure I always have Nuun tablets on hand for a last minute low-sugar electrolyte punch. I drink a ton of water, and absolutely do not avoid the extra salt on a hot day. It's amazing how fast a bit of water and salt can turn my brain from mush and back to alert and functioning. It's important to stay aware of your own mental state while working in the heat!

Embrace Laziness
I'm half dressed, Pig is wearing horse-pajamas, and we're both enjoying a morning canter.
While I'm sticking to the plan of keeping the horses ridden no one ever said I wasn't into cutting a few corners for the sake of saving time and sweat. Mostly this means riding Pig bareback in my loafers. He and I both enjoy wearing less layers. Sometimes I can't even manage to pull off his fly boots, which hilariously makes him more comfortable to ride. Without the boots, he stops every 3 seconds to throw a complete fit about the number of flying pests (myself included) that he's forced to put up with. Wearing the boots results in a much happier and calmer ride, something I'm always about. Plus, bareback riding means I don't have to strap myself into tall boots. Nothing can make you feel about to faint like encasing your sweaty leg sausages into leather. I love letting my legs fly free when riding Pig.
Let's face it. Any excuse to not wear more leather in the summer is always appreciated. This is just hot.
Working outside in hot weather is my personal hell, so I'm looking really forward to the end of summer. Fall is definitely my favorite season, and it can't get here soon enough!! Anyone out there have other coping mechanisms you use in the brutal high heat/high humidity days of summer?


  1. I feel the same way about riding in the summer as you! It's torturous. I tend to do the majority of my rides in the indoor (only shade available) and in general just take it easy with a lot of long walk rides.

  2. ugh at least you ride. I just can barely walk let alone ride. I had Remus on electrolytes for the first part of the summer but his water intake never budged. Now I drop a handful of senior in his water on those hot as balls days and he drinks like there is no tomorow :) HA. The fly boots never stayed on Remus i gave up on them. Glad your guys are surviving. And i have to ask/ WTF is a stroopwaffle i want to crawl into that cup and wallow around ;) HA

    I have the fugliest sun hat around and i look stupid in it but no one can see me soooo i wear it. That Tenn sun is no joke!! :)

    Stay cool my friend!

  3. i'm so freakin over the heat haha. tho actually this weekend was pretty close to just fine. the humidity was low and it was 62*F when i woke up saturday morning! if this was the worst it ever got, i would be 100% A-OK with that LOL. after trying to power through the heat waves this july, tho, i think i'm gonna return to my habit of previous years with taking a little "summer recess" during the worst of it...

  4. haha yep! All great ways to deal with the heat <3

  5. *realizes i need more salt. adds to list.*

  6. being lazy has actually been a critical part of my hot weather routine this summer. when it gets hot I just... don't. I've been doing a lot more bareback casual trail rides while still working on lateral work and long and low. It's been a lot of walking but... walking is the best.

  7. I can't even imagine riding in 120. When it gets into the 90s here we all die. In a perfect world I would ride in Maryland in the winter and in NS in the summer....

    Carmen seems to tolerate the heat really well- whether it's her colour or her heritage I don't know. I do the same as you and I try to keep the sessions short and to the point. When it was really hot I just schooled the walk


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