Riding in the Heat

Most riders very carefully look after their horses.  When it’s hot, the horses get worked a little lighter, or get longer breaks during work.  They get carefully bathed afterwards, rinsing all the sweat off and cooling the body temperature.  Some even get a liniment or alcohol rinse to help cool down, and others have an extra bucket of water with electrolytes added.  I love to see this level of attention and care from my riders.

Today, I’d like to remind riders to have that level of care for themselves!  When outdoors in hot/humid weather, and especially when engaging in an activity like riding (or shoot, even brushing a horse in this heat is exhausting!), it is essential to remember to bring water and/or a sports drink, and to wear lightweight clothing.  With the humidity, it is often hotter than it seems.  Your body cannot sweat to cool down, so we have to be very careful to monitor ourselves, taking breaks as needed and staying hydrated.  It’s ok to do less when it’s really hot than you are able to when the weather is more comfortable, and this is especially important for riders that have any sort of condition that is aggravated by heat/humidity.

My Summer Survival List:

  • Gatorade in a cooler.  Just holding the cold bottles helps cool my body, and staying hydrated is essential.
  • Snacks. When I’m out in the heat, I don’t tend to feel hungry, but I know I still have to eat. I love granola bars or healthier protein bars like Cliff bars, and I like to eat a lot of fruit.  Small snacks go down easier than a heavy meal.
  • Cold Water.  When I rinse my horse after a ride, I also run cold water down my own arms.  The veins in your wrist are right below the skin, so the cold water cools the blood and helps cool your body.
  • Shade.  Stay out of the sun! As tempting as it is to ride outside in the summer, I often opt for the shade of the indoor arena until evening when the sun isn’t as strong.
  • Light weight, moisture wicking shirts. I live in these all summer. They are cool and breathable.  Tack shops have them, but I find better deals by shopping sales at places like REI and Erehwon.
  • Listen to my body!!  I am a serious rider, and I always want to push to do just a little more work, or do something just a little more perfectly.  But I listen to myself, and if my body says it needs a break, I do either short bursts of work followed by a few minutes of walking on a loose rein, or I focus on basics that are easy for the horse and me.  Also, I like to mix in “yoga” days for the horses, focusing on free walk, stretchy trot, and lateral work done in the walk.  This work focuses on suppling and stretching instead of cardio, which is a nice break in the heat.

I’d love to hear everyone else’s tips to beat the heat!  Take care of yourselves everyone!!


One thought on “Riding in the Heat

  1. I like to get my riding completed early morning or in the evening after the sun has set. The only problem with both is you have to contend w/mosquitos…for that, spraying w/Off is the only defense. Sometimes, I hose the horse off w/water prior to riding. These days I am finding breeches unbearable as the temps rise….does anyone have a particular brand they could recommend that is somewhat comfortable to wear when it’s hot and humid?

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