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Hey Bob!

Love your web site. I always see lots of questions about horses and the cold, but what about heat? I live in Georgia and I've been looking at new trailers but I wonder if it doesn't get to be an oven in some of them? I put a thermometer in the bed of my truck with the camper top on and it got way too hot to have my dogs back there in the heat of the summer. What about a closed horse trailer? How do horses withstand the heat?


B. B.


Great question! Fortunately for me, it's not something I've had to deal with. Up in this neck of the woods we sometimes go an entire summer where the thermometer never hits 90.

Given time to adjust, horses can tolerate a fair amount of heat -- for example, the wild horses of Nevada live where summer temperatures hit 110 or more. Unfortunately, an enclosed trailer in open sun can quickly produce lethal temperatures.

My friend Trygvie Berg has done a fair amount of trailering in hot weather, so I put the question to him this afternoon. He had an interesting suggestion: Have someone else drive your truck while you ride in back with the horses. This will give you a real "feel" for how hot it gets (or not) while the rig is actually underway. Some trailers have excellent ventilation -- including roof vents to keep the heat from pocketing at the top of the trailer. Others have minimal vents and can become like an oven.

In any case, it's a good idea to stop fairly often -- preferably in a shaded area -- and give the horses access to water so they don't become dehydrated. It's also a good idea to give the horses plenty of water before the trip, because a horse can sweat off several gallons of water in a single hour. How do you get it to drink more? You've heard the old saying, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink," ... but you CAN salt the oats! (You don't, however, want to give a heavy meal within an hour or two of the trip.) Of course, you'll also want to carry a mineral block to encourage the horse to drink more, to retain more fluid, and to prevent electrolyte depletion.

During your stops, try to find a shaded area with a breeze to help cool the critters down. Bathing with cool water can also reduce their body temperature. When you're ready to hit the road again, try to get moving as quickly as possible after loading the horses so the air gets circulating again.

I hope this helps. Perhaps some of our friends in the South and West who have more experience in this area will also write with their suggestions.

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