Horse Health

Hey BLM, even Penn Vet thinks summer heat can be dangerous for horses!

Well, it’s been over 42 years since BLM was given a mandate to protect the wild horses, and after much public outcry and concern over wild horses being kept in FEEDLOT CONDITIONS in BLM holding facilities in extreme heat, the BLM is finally “testing” some shade structures in one facility.  How long will the “testing” drag on?

 Penn Vet school states that “Summer heat can be dangerous for horses…” and tip #2 below is to Provide shade.  If your horse lives outdoors, or if it must be outside during the day, provide relief from the sun.” 


10 Hot Weather Tips For Horses

New Bolton Center

Summer heat can be dangerous for horses, resulting in dehydration, lethargy, and general malaise. Severe heat stress may cause diarrhea, or even colic. Owners can take important steps to keep horses safe and comfortable during the hot days ahead.


Janet Johnston, DVM, Emergency and Critical Care veterinarian at Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center, offers the following tips as we approach summer’s official beginning this week:

1. Choose cooler turnout times. If your horse has a stall, but is turned out for part of the day, provide turnout during the cooler hours. Overnight is ideal, but if that’s not possible, then have the horse go outside as early as possible during the day.

2. Provide shade. If your horse lives outdoors, or if it must be outside during the day, provide relief from the sun. A run-in shed is best. Trees are a source of shade, but as the sun moves, so will the shade. Make sure that, regardless of the time of day, available trees are offering shade.

3. Move the air. Fans are a great way to help keep the air moving in the barn, but use them wisely. Your horse will benefit most if the fan is pulling the hot air out of the stall, not pushing air into the stall. And always ensure that your horse cannot reach cords and plugs.

4. Mist your horse. If you are fortunate enough to have a system to mist your horse, use it. As the moisture is absorbed from your horse’s skin, it will take away some of the heat. Frequent mistings are far more effective than a single dousing with a hose.

5. Provide fresh, cool water. Make sure your horse has plenty of fresh, cool water. A bucket hanging on a fence will get warm, and the water will no longer be appealing. Left long enough, the water will also become stagnant and unhealthy. If you are providing clean, cool water and your horse doesn’t seem to be drinking, then encourage it by providing a salt block, or even by misting hay with salt water.

6. Offer electrolytes. If your horse is sweating a great deal, water laced with electrolytes can help keep its body in balance. Whenever you offer electrolytes, however, be sure to offer fresh water, as well. Too many electrolytes can be harmful.

7. Slow down the work. Don’t think that because your horse has been working intensely at 1 pm every day that it can take the heat when the temperature tops 90 degrees. If you have to work your horse in the heat, lighten the work or spread it out over a couple of short sessions. This is especially important when the humidity is high, contributing to the poor quality of the air your horse is breathing.

8. Stick to a schedule. Within the parameters of keeping your horse cool, try to stay as close as possible to a normal schedule. Too much change at one time can be an invitation to colic.

9. Avoid sunburn. Horses, especially white horses, can suffer from sunburn. Even those with white socks and blazes, pink noses, or hairless patches from scarring can be susceptible. Using a fly scrim can help. In addition, applying sunblock to small, particularly vulnerable areas can be effective. Staying out of the sun’s harmful rays will, of course, be best. (Also be aware: if a horse has excessive sunburn, it could indicate a rare, underlying liver disease).

10. Clip horses with longer hair coats. Clipping is important, especially for those with Cushings disease. While some coat can provide protection from the sun and insulation, a long, thick coat tends to hold heat and makes it difficult for the horse to cool down.

About Penn Vet

Penn Vet is a global leader in veterinary medicine education, research, and clinical care. Founded in 1884, Penn Vet is the only veterinary school developed in association with a medical school. The school is a proud member of the One Health Initiative, linking human, animal, and environmental health.

Penn Vet serves a diverse population of animals at its two campuses, which include extensive diagnostic and research laboratories. Ryan Hospital in Philadelphia provides care for dogs, cats, and other domestic/companion animals, seeing nearly 33,000 patients a year. New Bolton Center, Penn Vet’s large-animal hospital on nearly 700 acres in rural Kennett Square, PA, cares for horses and livestock/farm animals, treating 33,000 patients each year – 4,000 in the hospital and 29,000 at farms through the Field Service. In addition, New Bolton Center’s campus includes a swine center, working dairy, and poultry unit that provide valuable research for the agriculture industry.

21 replies »

    • UPENN has a reproduction vet n the Advisory board now. She was watching online with the rest of us when Boone was born.

      She may not say much now because she’s new but one never knows!


  1. I will again be addressing this issue at the next meeting. At the last meeting I broached this subject of providing shade and wind protection to horses in holding on several occasions. One expert witness for UC Davis presented that although horses will use shade, it is “not a requirement.” When I asked her if she had a horse she responded, “Yes, I do.” I asked her if she would keep her horse in a condition without the opportunity to seek shade and her response was , “No, I would not.” She then stated that her horse has shade and wind protection. I believe these are basic requirements for humane treatment of horses and burros and will continue to press the BLM for these basic protections to be provided for our captive wild equids.
    Tim Harvey


    • So there IS one member of that board that has actual common sense! Good to know. Altho I did hear him question something at the last meeting – maybe it had to do with the shade issue. The concept the BLM seems to have trouble with is the fact that any wild animal (in my opinion) will look for shade or a windbreak – they certainly have more “horse sense” than the know it alls that are supposed to be managing them.


  2. If you care to write/email to the WH&B advisory board members, be polite, factual and brief.

    Wild Horse and Burro Advocacy
    Ms. June Sewing
    Executive Director
    National Mustang Association
    P.O. Box 1367
    Cedar City, Utah 84720

    Public Interest
    Ms. Callie Hendrickson
    P.O. Box 837
    Meeker, Colorado 81641

    Public Interest
    Mr. Fred T. Woehl, Jr.
    2151 Watkins Road
    Harrison, Arkansas 72601

    Wild Horse and Burro Research
    Dr. Sue M. McDonnell, Ph. D.
    1814 Lenape Unionville Road
    West Chester, Pennsylvania 19382

    Humane Advocacy
    Mr. Timothy J. Harvey
    56 Beebe River Road
    Campton, New Hampshire 03223

    Livestock Management
    Mr. John Falen
    Whole Ranch Road
    P.O. Box 132
    Orovada, Nevada 89425

    Natural Resources Management
    Dr. Robert E. Cope, DVM
    1606 Main Street
    Salmon, Idaho 83467

    Wildlife Management
    Mr. Rick E. Danvir
    4251 Donegal
    Casper, Wyoming 82609

    Veterinary Medicine
    Dr. Boyd Spratling
    Starr Valley Route
    P.O. Box 27
    Deeth, Nevada 89823


  3. I have become cynical enough to believe that the BLM isn’t interested in protecting the wild horses in its care. When one dies, it is collateral damage, and one less mouth to feed. Adding shade is an inexpensive no-brainer. There is no justification not to implement it, and the fact that there is so much resistance to this simple humane protection speaks volumes about BLM’s true intent.


  4. It is so painfully obvious that the BLM doesn’t give a damn about the well-being of these animals and is just processing them. Why else can’t they provide even the bare minimum standard of care, things that people are warned not to subject their pets to? It is exactly feedlot conditions because they know that most of these animals have no future and are being sent to slaughterhouses.


  5. Yes, I was at that meeting, wherein the veterinarian who did the shade research was, in my opinion, reticent to state with the wholehearted knowledge we all have, that horses will seek the coolness on a hot day. She didn’t want to say that horses enjoy escaping the sun or water or breezy areas on hot days. She just did not want to admit that horses need anything other than ther own body mechanics to stay cool. It was outrageous. I felt sorry for her horses.

    One of her conclusion was horses would stand half in and half out of the shade or maybe shade and maybe the sun – in pens that half the pen under a roof. She made no learned statements, just bleak observations as penned in an obvious tact to allude or leave open the question as to whether or not BLM was negligent. I am sure, we taxpayers handed over a tidy sum of “consultant” and “preparation of report,” not to mention travel and presentation time, add in per diem for breakfast and lunch and well, for the buck we didn’t get much bang. And Mr. Harvey did quietly ask the questions he states he did, and they were on point and without doubt as to the intent.

    In my opinion, BLM has had the duty of protecting these horses and burros for many decades. Surely, they’ve learned a thing or two and know a happy horse when they see it. … maybe not.


  6. In the Wild Horses are resourcful they find shelter from all the elements,,,,,,, To pen them up in the elements and not provide them with shelter is not only cruel and inhumane but immoral…… After 40 some years have not learned one darn thing about the proper care of a horse …………….One has no other alturnative but to Assume they never will , nor do they even want to…………….


  7. This Is Simple: BLM Bullies quiz. 1. BLM is it Hot when You Stand in the Sun with No Shade? 2. Do You Need An Umbrella in the Desert to figure this out? 3.Do You Enjoy Hot Arid Days with Water that is Not self replinishing while fighting others for a mere uninterrupted drink? 4. Would You enjoy being penned up…..(hmmm) while stsring at the open space You once roamed in? 5. Do You Really NEED A test in order to Prove the horses are smarter than You are by seeing IF they want shade in one location? I have A test for You….why dont You take All your employees and stand together for one week in the holding pens and see how enjoyable theSun is with sitting water and Limited Space to roam. That would be a Real Test.


    • Dear Coltswesternshop, I agree that the Blm should put up the shelters for the Mustangs make a pen for themselves right out in the hot Sun and stand there and do the test for the Mustangs , Geeze is it really possible that the BLM doesnt know that the Mustangs need shade !!!!!!!!!!! DUMB ASSES…………..


  8. Sure they need shade as all living , every living thing in the hot sun made to just stand all day . does not take some one with a college degree to know this , just makes me so mad the money they piss away THATCOULD DO FOR THE HORSES.
    So BLM get off your butts and get them all shade.


  9. I have a copy of the military manual put out by our Gov. for policy when mounted military used horses in the outback of Iraq. It has several pages detailing exactly the needs of equine in the heat. BLM knows horses naturally seek shade. BLM would never treat their own personal horses like they treat the captured wild horses. Someone should ask them why they don’t house their prized quarter horses with no shade 24/7 and why they don’t run their foals/mares for miles sand-blasted by helicopters.


  10. By George, I think you got And thank you grandma Greg attending these Kangaroo sessions by the morally deficient BLM and their team odd idiots. I applaud you but I have no stomach for ignorant, belligerent, arrogant human beings such as these ranchers that make up the boards for the BLM. The rest of you are right about the BLM not carrying about these horses the way they would their own but I go further to say that they care better got their pickup trucks and ATVs than they do for these living,.breathing creatures. Moo they will not kill all of them because the horses are their cash cows. They will contour to inflate numbers because it brings them more of our money…makes them rich and is them power. We all know that there are far fewer numbers left than they claim and that they are chilling away at them regularly. They will not listen to a vet college, especially an east coast one. They only listen to cattle vets and we all know what happens in their feedlots…read article about beef on mother earth news archives……. You can’t fix stoopid!!!!!


  11. I think the sooner we realize that the BLM IS NOT going to do anything for The Captive Mustangs, the better, we must work on getting them all Released to where they belong !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The BLM is stalling for time and were giving to them !!!!by not insisting for their release…………………….Ive been watching …..for 20 yrs nothing we do changes things for the Mustangs it just gets worse for these Fabulous magnificent Beauties ……………….. We keep doing the same things waiting for change ???? isnt that the definition of Insane??????? Come on people lets do something to make change………………………………………Surely if we really put our heads together we can do something……………………Meanwhile our Mustangs and Burros pay the price …………………………………………………suffering unspeakable , unbearable horrors…………………………………………..


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