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The Queen of Gaits to Beat the Heat

By Carol Kurtz Darlington, Art2Ride Associate Trainer

Did you know horses get much hotter than we do when working in the summer? A study done by the University of Guelph (Ontario, Canada) shows that horses actually heat up 10 times faster than humans. Since their sweat has much more salt than ours, they lose electrolytes faster than we do too.

So how can you continue your horse’s training and development over the summer months? Hot or humid days are perfect for walk work. Walking was called the queen of gaits historically, because you can develop everything your horse needs at the walk and imperfections are easier to identify in both you and your horse. You can explain new movement to your horse at the walk. Train your horse at the walk, and eventually he will be able to do everything in the trot and canter. You’re not wasting time working at the walk—quite the opposite!

Please remember your horse will overheat way before you do. You don’t have to memorize the scientific data—if you are sweating, it’s worse for your horse. Ride early or late and stay mostly at the walk, and you will protect your horse from heat-induced colic, hypotension, and renal failure. Thank you for putting your horse first!