Horse Health

U. of Kentucky warns of heat stress in horses, while BLM continues to dawdle “testing” shade options

Yet another University has issued warnings about heat stress in horses.  Wild horses and burros have been kept in unnatural, feedlot conditions in sweltering in heat, but the BLM has “tested” only a few shade options at only one facility.  One of these didn’t even allow enough height for a wrangler on a horse.   

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As Summer Begins, Equine Heat Stress Looms

By University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment

With summer upon us, it’s a good time to start thinking about protecting horses from inevitable heat stress conditions.

“The combination of hot, muggy weather conditions prompts some real concern for humans, as well as livestock and pets,” said Tom Priddy, meteorologist for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment. “The livestock heat stress index is a combination of air temperature and humidity. That one-two punch makes it hazardous for people and animals. Dew point temperatures above 65°F lead officials to declare conditions dangerous for livestock.”

The Livestock Heat Stress Index helps producers know when heat stress could create a problem for their animals. Periods of heat stress call for livestock producers to be vigilant in making sure their animals are able to withstand the conditions.

Heat loss for all horses becomes difficult when temperatures exceed 90°F, so avoid exercising them during very hot periods. When humidity is high, even temperatures much lower than 90°F can pose problems. Horse owners can reduce heat stress by scheduling activities during the cooler part of the day and giving horses plenty of water. Transporting horses during the cooler hours of the morning or evening can help. To reduce the risk of dehydration and heat stress when traveling in hot weather, give horses access to water before, during, and after transportation.

Offer horses frequent drinks of water during work in hot weather. Allowing them to drink during work helps maintain water balance and relieves the urge to drink a lot of water after exercise. After a hard workout, water horses out gradually.

Even nonworking horses will double their water intake during hot weather, so be sure plenty of water is available to horses in pastures, paddocks, and stalls.

Lactating mares will have especially high water requirements because they are using water for milk production and heat loss.

Hot weather also will increase horses’ need for salt, which is lost during sweating. Heavy rains can “melt” salt blocks in pastures, so check salt licks periodically.

Visit the UK Ag Weather Center website at to keep up with current weather, forecasts, heat stress indices, and more.

Aimee Nielson is an agriculture communication specialist at the University of Kentucky.

8 replies »

  1. This is exactly the care I was always taught was to be shown to the horses. Imagine my dismay, upon viewing the facilities, and told, “they don’t know any different.”. Thank you


  2. I’m of the opinion that its the BLM that “don’t know any different”! Isnt it about time these so-called managers of our mustangs were made to actually learn something new??? Well, not new – WE (wild horse advocates) all know the rules – the ones the BLM has for horse & burro adopters. You know – a 3 sided shed – FOR SHELTER FROM SUN & WIND! Strange that these animals who don’t know any different when they are in the pipe corrals automatically MUST have shelter when they are adopted – oh, right – except when they are sold to kill buyers & trucked to slaughter.


  3. CORRUPTION. Duquette has them playin the WE Are Slaughterphiles tune and when it gets stuck the BLM needs to hear what University Of Kentucky is validating of the need for shade however the musak in their head is far too loud. I imagine if you yell Payoff….money…..etc they would hear those words.


  4. Do not allow my angery comment to overshadow the Congratulations to the University of Kentucky to stand up and brilliantly say this is outrageous of the BLM. Thank you for your stand with the Truth we all hear and appreciate it.


    • Sorry for a moment I digress…..thats Not a shade testing center….Santos left the landing area in Roswell so the BLM is trying to notify the home planet with their primitive please read our sos signal….Even the Aliens wont answer anymore!


  5. JUst think the BLM agent at PVC said the horses get 10 gallons each. That’s not nearly enough and some horses probably don’t get any. That place and the others are hell holes.


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