Dealing with temperature swings

The first clip job of the season
A modified trace clip will help keep Freedom cool on hot days but give him some protection during cold nights.

The weather here has been crazy. Last week a freak snow storm took down power lines and trees and we had temperatures in the 20s . . . this week we’ve had temperatures in the high 60s.

It’s bad enough when you’re a human — we can dress appropriately. But for horses, it’s harder for them to acclimate. So, out came my clippers. I would rather take some hair off and blanket Freedom than have him overheating.

Freedom had a pretty dense winter coat, at least for him. It wasn’t enough to keep him warm on Saturday night, when it went down to the low 20s. He was shivering when I went to the barn early Sunday morning. But by Sunday afternoon, when were were hunting, he was hot and showing it. The high that day was about 65 and after a short uphill gallop, his breathing sounded ragged and harsh and he was panting.

Tuesday was forecast as a hot sunny day and I worried that if the hunt were fast, he’d just melt. I didn’t have much time to clip so I

No, a small animal wasn't killed in the barn aisle, it's just the remains of his winter coat.
No, a small animal wasn't killed in the barn aisle, it's just the remains of his winter coat.

just took off the essentials: I shaved his chest, his neck, the hair on his belly and the hair under his jaw. This modified trace clip (sometimes called a bib clip) really helps a horse cool down but leaves enough winter coat to also help keep them warm.

I usually take a bit more off as the weather and our work intensity dictate but at least I got the first “cutting” done. I know that Freedom will appreciate it!

In addition to making him more comfortable with the clip job, when we have temperature swings like this I also try to make sure that Freedom is drinking enough. This is when I add a bit more water to his beet pulp and add a little salt to every meal. This is classic colic weather and one of the keys to avoiding problems is keeping your horse hydrated. I’m lucky that Freedom is fine having “soup” for breakfast and dinner because horses sometimes don’t drink enough when the temperatures drop.

One thought on “Dealing with temperature swings

  1. Thank you for writing this post! I have been going around and around about how to deal with this issue. My TB gelding is out on pasture 24/7 and I don’t want him to get too cold and lose weight trying to stay warm… but I also have noticed lots and lots of sweat during the day as he tries to stay cool. I think I’ll go with a bib clip and see how he does (especially with a hunter pace this weekend).

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