Heat Wave = Heat Stroke

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Marty

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Here's my summer contribution to the forum.

HEAT WAVE=HEAT STROKE

A couple of weeks ago we had a horrible heat wave. Down in town in Dunlap the temperature hit 104 degrees and now I heard that the state of Oklahoma is having a very serious heat wave too. This is bad and oh so deadly dangerous to us and all animals and must be taken seriously.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be working your horse for him to have a heat stroke. I have had horses stroke out on me while they were not doing a dang thing but standing around. One summer morning while living in Florida I fed at the usual time of 7:30 am, turned the horses out directly afterward while I cleaned stalls and changed their water and by 9:00 am my first horse had hit the ground. She was doing nothing except standing under a tree in the shade and had a heat stroke. As I attended to her, the second one began to exhibit signs of heat stressing also, so I knew after that these things can happen without a horse working at all. I have had others exhibit heat stroke on me over the years as well, Quarter Horses, ponies, and yes even one of my minis had a heat stroke also years ago in June. I hadn’t gotten around to body clipping everyone that year as I felt they were shedding by themselves just fine and that would suffice as long as they were well hydrated and shaded. I was wrong. I contribute that heat stroke to this horse fighting high humidity with still too much hair remaining on her, even though she did appear nice and slick it wasn’t enough.

Some signs of heat stroke can be: his body will be hot to the touch, excessive sweating or no sweating at all, panting, lying down, head hanging down, staggering, loss of appetite, rapid heart rate and colic symptoms.

First Aid for Heat Stroke:

Bring your horse to a cool area, under ample shade or a cool barn. If he is down and not wanting to get up, hose him while he is down as you encourage him to stand. If you have a fan, stand him in front of it. Rinse your horse off with a hose paying special attention to his neck and legs. The water coming off your horse’s body will be warm from his body heat so use a sweat scraper to constantly keep that water running off of him until his body cools. Sponge his head (pole) with cool water. Put the hose in one hand while you scrape with the other. Do not apply a wet towel to his body. That will only trap the heat in and not allow it to escape. If you happen to have a cooler, using that would be a good idea to help his body heat escape slowly. Offer him water and offer him Gatorade. Do not dilute Gatorade with water or it will loose its power. Gatorade is useless if diluted. Offer Gatorade in a separate bucket. You can soak a small portion of beet pulp in Gatorade instead of water if he is refusing to drink or just soak it in water. Serving a sloppy soaked beet pulp is a good way of hydrating a horse.

If your horse doesn’t rally by the time you have done all of the above your vet should be on his way and will probably administer IV fluids.

The best way to avoid a heat stroke is to be very diligent in your daily care. Do not work your horse if the temperature and humidity is too high. Listen to your local weatherman and if he is warning that your area is under a serious heat alert you should not be working your horses at all. Use your noodle. Many people become over zealous and aggressive in their training during horse show season wanting that win and keep pushing their horses beyond their limit until it’s too late. Just the thought of that makes me ill but it does happen unfortunately.

If your barn is not well ventilated and is known to become a “hot box” your horse would be better off standing outside in the shade. You may be able to provide fans or misters in your barn to cool it off. If your barn roof is made of tin, you might be able to hose it off to reduce the temperature of your barn inside. Try it and see if it works for you.

If your horse is inside the barn, run fans diligently and be careful not to overload your electric outlets. I have box fans and also a large industrial fan which is known to become hot. I never leave home while that big monster fan plugged in.

You can encourage your horse to drink by keeping their water buckets and troughs clean and cool. Scrubbing them out with baking soda eliminates the “sour” smell instantly. I freeze empty 12 ounce soda bottles with water and put it in their stall water buckets inside the barn. I add frozen milk jugs of water to the water troughs outside and also in their kiddie pools. It encourages them to play in the water. Be sure he always has access to a salt block.

Keep in mind that if your horse has been properly conditioned, is being fed good quality hay, food and minerals, his chances of coming through a heat stroke quickly are much higher than a horse in poor, underweight, wormy condition.

Refreshermint by Absorbine is a product I have endorsed so much over the years they should have given me a case for free by now. This is a wonderful product to sponge on after your horse has had a work out. It will cut the sweat and leave him feeling wonderful and smell like mint. The minty aroma from it will help keep flies at bay. Bugs hate the smell of mint. On a hot nasty humid day I'll fill up a bucket of water and mix in Refreshermint and use that instead of giving a bath. It really perks them up.

If your horse is sporting a big long mane, braid it up along the top of his neck, or put it in a few pony tails to lift it from his neck to allow some air to get underneath it. Make sure his tail has been trimmed up a bit to be able to swat flies. Use fly masks and don’t forget to use sunscreen or zinc oxide for horses with white faces and noses.

Don’t forget to be good to yourselves as well and take as many precautions for you as you are for your horse. Drink plenty of water and Gatorade, stay in the shade as much as you can, and pray for an early autumn.
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This has been a public service announcement from my barn to yours. Have a safe summer you guys!
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By Marty Garrison
 

Kira98

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Marty thanks thats very good information!

and yes in oklahoma it has been up in the 104-111 range for i think maybe 5days now ! its been hot hot

and today and yesterday i had to work out in this !!!!!!!!! i couldnt imagine my poor babies having to work in this heat

I only work them if i can early early in the am or right before dark or after dark when i have lights

I used to ride my big horses around 11pm when i had the arena lights at the old farm i was at

I have been hosing the kiddos off they are getting to like it

my big stallion he made use of the 5,000gal of water i had sprayed from a tanker truck onto my pasture ! LOL

he was standing right in the middle of it just loving it ! the minis didnt get to enjoy that as they had there turn on the pasture

already earlier that day ( i rotate them) and i had rinsed them before the truck arrived

I try to keep them cool as I can and im glad that i do have alot of trees for shade

I hope we get a break from the heat but its summer time in Oklahoma !

thanks again for that good summer info !
 

Just Us N Texas

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The ArkLaTex area has been over 100 for 10 days. Two more to go, and should cool down and rain Thursday, should go all the way down to upper 90's. Sounds almost cool!
 

Joanne

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Marty that was great!

Thanks for taking the time to share your wealth of information about heat stroke with us.

I have never used Refreshermint, but keeping away the flies is reason enough for me!
 

Sunny

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If summer ever arrives here, I'll be sure to keep all your excellent suggestions in mind, Marty. We're lucky if it ever gets up to 75 here, and it's been in the 50's at night for weeks.
 

Charlotte

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THANK YOU Marty! It has been 110 or 108 the last 3 days here in central OK. That's on my truck thermometer. The 'official' temp has been 105.

We know people with horses colicing from heat stress and we've had one case. We're really trying to stay on top of it.

I like the frozen bottle idea. I'll be fixing some today. I've been putting a few ice cubes in the feed buckets at night. That has them breathe cooled air as they eat and adds a bit of moisture too

Charlotte
 

Becky

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Thanks for posting that, Marty! Good advice for those of us that live in areas where the temps are maintaining over 100 every day and the nights get no cooler than 80. Ugh! It's miserable right now.
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Interestingly enough, my outside horses seem to have no real problem with the heat. Those that are dry lotted have loafing sheds with just a bit of shade from trees that they stand under. I keep the stock tanks full and locate them the best I can in shady areas. The horses on pasture during the day, spend the majority of their time grazing out in the brutal sun. Doesn't seem to bother them. Go figure!

My show horses living in the barn seem to have the hardest time dealing with it. The barn is fully insulated with windows over every stall and two overhead doors on either end. Fans running over the stalls. Yet, the heat bothers them the most. I'm one of the ones Charlotte mentioned as having a mare 'heat colic' the other day. She was down in her stall when I went out to feed the other evening and it looked like she'd been rolling quite a bit as her stall was trashed. I got her up and took her outside. She was a bit ataxic, but her head went straight to the grass and she started eating like she was starving. I determined that she didn't have an impaction colic from her actions so I took her and hosed her down. Especially focusing on her legs. There was a breeze and she started improving quickly. I gave her some banamine and put her in the round pen for the night. I soaked her feed that night and have been soaking her feed for every meal since. I put an extra fan in her stall and so far, she is doing just fine.

I want to mention that if you use fans, we've found those 9" high velocity fans blow way more air than just regular big box fans. They are easy to hang over the stalls and do a great job. We've been taking those to shows the past few years and they are so much easier to deal with than trying to hang box fans in the stalls plus move a lot more air. I just ran to Wal Mart Sunday afternoon and picked up a few more at $15 each. A really good investment!
 

hobbyhorse23

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Well-said, Marty!!
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Marty said:
Rinse your horse off with a hose paying special attention to his neck and legs. The water coming off your horse’s body will be warm from his body heat so use a sweat scraper to constantly keep that water running off of him until his body cools. Sponge his head (poll) with cool water. Put the hose in one hand while you scrape with the other.
A vet at one of our CDE's explained during a seminar on cooling that water left standing on the coat actually forms an extra layer of insulation, holding the heat in the body if it is not scraped off. So Marty's right that it's important to wet and scrape, wet and scrape. A body-clipped horse will already be shedding water fairly well but one with a natural coat really needs this. You can also mix rubbing alcohol in the bath water as the evaporation aids in cooling. This is a common trick with endurance and CDE horses.

Marty said:
Do not apply a wet towel to his body. That will only trap the heat in and not allow it to escape. If you happen to have a cooler, using that would be a good idea to help his body heat escape slowly.
Question- which one is it? Quick or slow? Using a cold wet towel, constantly replaced as it warms, can be okay at least for people. But I wouldn't put anything warm over an overheating horse until he's dumped some serious heat.

Marty said:
Offer him water and offer him Gatorade. Do not dilute Gatorade with water or it will loose its power. Gatorade is useless if diluted.
Actually it should be diluted for human children as otherwise the excessive sugar can cause diarrhea. I'd wonder if the same is true for horses? It gets diluted in their stomachs anyway since they should be drinking water too. Something to check with the vet about!
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Castle Rock Miniatures said:
Last year I had my first experience with Anhidorsis, with a mini mare who was fully clipped and usually exhibited no health problems. Scared me to death!
What is Anhidorsis?: ...
"Anhidrosis" can be really scary! A lot of us in cooler climates say our minis don't sweat, but that's usually because they don't need to for cooling during work because they've got a much greater skin-to-mass ratio than big horses. If I push mine, he'll sweat. If it's hot, he'll sweat. A horse who truly is not sweating in the kind of temps being discussed here is in big trouble.
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Sunny said:
If summer ever arrives here, I'll be sure to keep all your excellent suggestions in mind, Marty. We're lucky if it ever gets up to 75 here, and it's been in the 50's at night for weeks.
Ha! Seconded. I'm getting so sick and tired of gray clouds and rain...it's JULY, for Pete's sake!
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We get enough of that the other nine and a half months out of the year. I'd like some sun so I can finally stop blanketing!

Leia
 

Marty

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Question- which one is it? Quick or slow?

About the towels: should have explained it better what I meant was sometimes people will just take a towel and leave it on the horse thinking that is going to help. Don't do that. Don't cover the horse with a towel. Use a cooler if you want though so the heat can escape from the body.

As far as the Gatorade I already checked it out a zillion years ago because my big brother was on campus during the making of it. Don't dilute it at all. It will loose its "umph"

I've never had one get runny poo from it though but I suppose its very possible.
 
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wpsellwood

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I want to mention that if you use fans, we've found those 9" high velocity fans blow way more air than just regular big box fans. They are easy to hang over the stalls and do a great job.
Hey Becky, can you post a picture of your fan?

We are spoiled here in Colorado thank goodness no humidity to deal with. If you are in the shade its not bad even at 102.
 

Becky

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Brenda, these little fans move WAY more air than those big box fans! They're great for horse shows and great here in the barn as well. Easy to store and easy to hang.

This is the 9" high velocity fan.

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Margo_C-T

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Thanks for the pic of the high velocity fan, Becky--I do not have air conditioning, am relying heavily on fans just now as we, too, are having a heat wave--for here, at least. It is 6600 ft. elevation, not usually above 90 degrees, but I registered 97 yesterday and 95 today, with a HOT wind-and it's been like that for about a week, with no real 'end' in sight, here. My son in the OK panhandle said it was 105 when he called several days ago....WHEW!

I am THANKFUL the humidity is generally pretty low. Our 'monsoon' season (change of direction of prevailing winds is the reason for the name-though it usually does bring our 'rainiest' season)--often just lots of sound and fury, though, and not much moisture---and this year is ESPECIALLY dry.

I have installed a hanging 'shade' outside where my only water trough is, to keep it from getting hot as the day advances; other horses drink from buckets which get shaded by about 1-2 PM and thereafter--and, I give the barn horses access to their stalls, where there is also a bucket of water inside, during the hottest hours every day. The others all have run-in sheds, which are fully shaded(no 'penetration' of the sun)at this time of year. I also feed soaked beet pulp in the evening.

Good tips from Marty and others...I have a little horse on a transport right now, and will be concerned until he arrives...they are one that stops, unloads and stables the horses after every about 450 miles; they are currently driving at night, stabling during the day, due to the heat. I will be anxious until he gets here....

Margo
 

hobbyhorse23

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Thanks Marty!

Marty said:
Question- which one is it? Quick or slow?About the towels: should have explained it better what I meant was sometimes people will just take a towel and leave it on the horse thinking that is going to help. Don't do that. Don't cover the horse with a towel. Use a cooler if you want though so the heat can escape from the body.
Ah, I think I get it now! Must be a regional difference. Here all our coolers are wool or polarfleece and we put them on when it's cold to keep our shivering wet horses a little warmer!
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They keep heat in and wick the water off, also acting as a windbreaker until the horse is dry and fluffy again. I assumed they were only called "coolers" because we use them during cool-down to keep a hot horse from getting chilled.
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I forgot to say earlier that I really like the frozen water bottle dunker idea, that's definitely one to keep around for our few hot days. I always use wet beet pulp on long hauls and at CDE's when I'm concerned my horse might not be getting enough hydration. Doing it with Gatorade sounds like a real pick-me-up!
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Leia
 

Katiean

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Marty,

I didn't even think about heat stroke. First I must say that there are a ton of people here in the Northern Nevada that have there Big Horses in a 12x12 pipe pen with not one bit of shade or wind shelter of any kind 24/7 every day they own there horses and it gets hot here too. We did think our mare was colicing. We had switched to Teff hay about a month ago and I have not had a horse colic in 40 years. As I cought this horse she was passing gas. As we went out the gate to get to the road, she stoped and pooped. As I think about it she did feel hot to the touch and was trembeling. We gave her the banamine and oiled her up and gave electrolites. After about two hours I turned her loose in her pen and she went and found her pee spot and went. She then tried to go down again. More oile and more walking and all the time she is passing gass,I put her in the trailer to stress a poop. She did and I took her back to her pen and she ran the fence line with my colt. I had walked about 3-3 1/2 hours. I added orchard grass hay to the feed program and I started every one on sylium in there grain at night. Then yesterday I was sitting at my computer and I can see the horses from my computer. I looked out and the mare was down. I lo back to the computer and about 2-3 minutes later she is still down but her head is pointing a different direction. As I head out she rolls up on her back and then gets up and then goes right back down. I get her halter and she walks away from me passing gass. I took her to her stall and tie her in the corner on a short rope. She poops. So I turn her loose. She starts to go down again. Her body is still hot and she is trembleing. I took her back to the stall and tied her up again. after about an hour she poops twice and when I went out to her she was very cool to the touch. I turned her loose again.She was fine. I have taken all of the girls off of the teff hay because I am thinking that the teff is responsable for colic. Our temps have only been in the high 80's to low 90's. The end of the week they are going to be in the 90's to 100's. Do you think she may have had heat stroke or is it possable that she did coilc these past 2 times. Oh, and I have shelter for all of the horses and clean fresh water that is changed nightly. She chose to stand in the sun. I am really confused about whatcould be the problem now.
 

Witts Mini Horse Ranch

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Great info! Going to wally world for fans and now have an excuse to get me some pop! I agree the box fans just aren't doing a good job. I have been giving everyone soaked beet pulp twice a day. I decided last night, when I was sitting out with them at midnight...we (horses and I) are going nocturnal...it was pleasant outside at midnight. I miss spending quality time with them, but by noonish..I can't take the heat anymore...even the dogs start whining to go in. Everyone has free choice to shelter and shade trees but 99% are out in that hot sun...

Is it true that alfalfa makes a horse hot...I have always thought this to be true...but my hay guy acts like he has never heard this. He has lots of alfalfa and has tried to talk me into it instead of the Bermuda.
 

CyndiD

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I hope the Moderators will put this topic into our 'archives' of helpful topics....this one is excellent and should be kept close at hand...

Thanks Marty for thinking of it!!
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wpsellwood

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Thanks for the picture Becky!!! I will start replacing my box fans with them, they look like they will just hang over the stall wall too???

Good topic Marty! Glad we live in Colorado if you have shade you can make it LOL.
 

~Lisa~

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Katien I am curious the reasoning behind tying short in the stall for a couple of hours during a colic?

I think that sometimes people forget (not saying this is the cause in your case) that an impaction can take a few days to get so bad nothing passes. Sometimes you will see some boughts of painful behavior and passing manure but perhaps not the same amount or consistency they usually do. The more they eat the less gets past the impaction until they are fully impacted. Sometimes you can clear it sometimes they clear it on their own and other times of course it just goes downhill.

I know a lot of people will put a horse in the trailer hoping to make them poop ( I have done so myself before) but i just wanted to remind everyone it does not mean you are out of the woods by any means. Most vets have told me they use the oil not as much for the lubrication factor but more as a marker a way to tell that what is going in one end is actually coming out the other

Of course I am not a vet but what you are describing - the on and off issues would lmake me guess that perhaps sand is the culprit

I have those same fans and they are great I have some for the horses and when it gets very hot I borrow one and bring it in the house for the dogs :)
 
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Marty

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Thanks for the tip on the fans, I'm going to see if I can find one in our miniature cheater Walmart next trip to town. They don't carry nearly all the stuff that a real Walmart has but just maybe I'll get lucky and find one. I really have to watch my electric overloads in that barn so it doesnt' blow up! Another fan just might have to make me turn off the Beach Boys.

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Has anyone tried any of the fans that have a water mister? Wonder how they work?

Hey Katiean I hope your mare is doing better by now. I don't think she has heat stoke at all;, sounds like a bad persistant colic to me. Hope she is feeling much better.

Stay safe and stay cool everyone!

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