Eventing

Katie Preston’s Summer Management Tips

Katie Preston with her three horses

Petplan Equine Ambassador and full-time veterinary surgeon Katie Preston never seems to stop. She balances a busy work schedule at Milbourn Equine Vets with caring for and riding her three horses; Templar Justice (TJ), Dreams Come True (Tia) and Templar Juno (Juno). Katie’s horses live out all year round including her five-star event horse TJ, who has competed at Burghley, Badminton and Luhmühlen. Like many of us, Katie has her own personal methods to help her horses through the warmer summer months.

Here Katie shares her summer tips:

Field management

“For a lot of us, our horses are out for longer periods of time, if not constantly, during the summer, so it is important your field provides a few essentials,” begins Katie. “The first thing to remember and probably the most obvious is water. Your field, especially in summer, should always have a water source. It is important that your horse remains hydrated in the heat, so to encourage them I sometimes put apples in my water buckets.”

“It’s also vital to ensure that your horse has appropriate shelter in his field during the summer. During the warmer months of summer, shelter, such as trees or even a purpose-built unit are great and encourages your horse to get out of the sun.”

“While the spring and summer grass can be beneficial to horses that struggle to put on weight, it can be problematic for good doers. Dividing up your fields, especially if they are individually paddocked, can be a good idea to try and limit their access.”

Dealing with the heat

“Horses are very resilient animals and adapt to changes in weather fairly well, however some horses feel the heat and are affected more than others,” continues Katie. “In this case it might be a good idea to clip your horse, particularly those that might have a thicker coat or suffer with cushing’s disease.”

Pesky flies and sweet itch

“Flies are the biggest nuisance for most riders, and they are relentless in summer. Putting a fly sheet and fly mask on and applying fly spray is one of the best things you can do to limit the effect flies have on horses. If you are able to turn your horse out in a herd, this can help. They will normally stand head to tail and use another horse’s tail to swipe away the flies from their face. Bringing them in during the day when flies are at their worst can also aid the situation.”

“Sweet itch is an allergic reaction to bites from midges and can affect any horse or pony regardless of breed. For horses with sweet itch, prevention is the best cure. I would recommend starting early. Midges can start biting from March onwards, so invest in a good anti-sweet itch rug and put it on early in the season. If possible, move your horse away from woods or ponds, where midges tend to spawn.”

Exercising in the heat

“It is always a good idea to exercise your horse in the morning or evening as it is normally cooler and a lot more pleasant for you both,” adds Katie. “The ground is normally harder in summer so be mindful of this when you are hacking out. You might consider icing or cold hosing your horses’ legs after jumping or doing fast work on hard ground and just monitor your horses’ legs.”

“When out competing make sure you bring plenty of water and again, if your horse is a little fussy, encourage them to drink by sticking apples in their water bucket. I have also, on occasion, soaked my horses’ hay when it has been really hot as this can help with fluid intake.”

Other precautionary measures

“Throughout the year I give my horses electrolytes to help prevent dehydration and preserve the correct balance of fluids in the body’s cells that are involved in muscle function,” explains Katie. “Providing electrolytes, will give your horse all the right minerals required and is really beneficial in summer as your horse will definitely sweat more than normal. If you don’t wish to give your horse electrolytes, putting a salt lick in the field will help.”

“Getting the saddler out to check your saddle is a good idea as your horse is likely to change shape throughout the season, either as he puts on more weight with the good grass or loses it with an increase in exercise. With an increased work rate, having your horse looked at by a physio is also good, to make sure they are feeling well.”

“One final thing to remember, with the harder and drier ground, your horses’ feet can suffer. Adding a hoof care supplement and a hoof conditioner can help keep the moisture in your horses’ hooves keeping them healthy,” concludes Katie.

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