Take Care of Your Horse (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Recently in Sikeston, one of my horses named Sports Center got sick from the heat and humidity, and was tied up. We were able to give him some medicine, and luckily, after letting him cool him off and relax for a period of time, he began feeling much better. It is easy to forget how much the weather can affect not only our horses, but us as well. It sounds really simple, but stop and water your horse often. A horse turned loose is accustomed to taking a drink whenever they are thirsty, but when a horse is being served water, it does not always take a drink as it is being offered. Always place a bucket of water within your horse’s reach, even in the trailer.

Anytime that the horse’s climate changes, or when I know that I’m going somewhere the weather is going to be hot, I give my horses Restore Electrolyte Paste, especially when at a jackpot. Personally, the humidity, also known as wet heat, can take a lot out of me, and I try to drink water constantly. I also take a supplement called Amino Vital. This contains similar ingredients to those found in Gatorade, but without the high sugar content. When hydrating, steer clear of these sugar-filled drinks, especially energy drinks, because sugar only causes further dehydration.

Another thing that people often forget is how hot protective boots are for horses. Although technology has come a long way, and these boots are made in better quality than ever before, they should only be worn for short periods of time. They are protection for those few seconds you are asking your horse to give it all it’s got, but I cannot tell you how many horses I have seen standing around in the heat, sweating and stomping because their boots have been left on too long. Boots are made strictly to protect, not to be worn as house shoes.

Keep your trailer well ventilated at all times whenever you are hauling. My trailer has drop down doors at the head and tail, and I always keep both ends down to help the air circulate better when it is hot out. While I do also utilize fans in my trailer, I never air condition the horse compartment because horses are not accustomed to this, and I believe that providing them with this unnecessary luxury would only hinder them in the long run.

I have recently been blessed with another great horse. This is a sentimental time for me because we are in Canby, Oregon and that’s the last place Shawn McMullen and I were before we had the wreck in 1996. Shawn, nicknamed Merle, was my best friend, and I still miss him terribly. This new horse reminds me of him so much that I have recently started calling him Merle as well!

When I think back to that time, it really puts things into perspective. Do not take anything for granted. Enjoy your family and your friends, and make the most out of life each and every day because you just never know what tomorrow may bring.

Until next time, God Bless and I’ll see you down the line.