The Good 'Ole Summer Tyme

Summer is upon us.

Yesterday was 101 and humid, but that's pretty much the norm for this time of year.

The pond is drying up, grass is browning and the thistles are in bloom.

That spot where the dog is wading is about the same place in the pond the mare is in the photos a couple of posts ago. It goes fast once it starts going down.

The kid has been away to summer camp and is back. He attended the first ever Wolf Ridge Summer Resident camp hosted by Fossil Rim Wildlife Center and we can't say enough good things about the staff, the facility or the program. He had a fantastic time and is already signed up for the next session.

Our horses are soaking up the heat. We've already had one close call with a dehydration colic, a silly young horse who didn't take good 'nuff care of himself on the first really hot day. We've had such a cool, wet spring, the sudden hard heat didn't give the horses much of a chance to adjust and some fell behind on their drinking. I usually start supplementing a dash of salt in their daily grain when temps reach 100. The vet said to start it at about 95 and I'll do that from now on. At the other end of the scale, I add the salt when we drop below freezing, I may bump that up a few degrees as well.

If you're writing horses, the weather and temps are one thing that people can get wrong if they haven't done a little research. Horses are typically more comfortable in a lower range than people are. They can (and do) acclimate to the heat, but it takes a little bit of time for them to adjust. If they're going to be worked in the heat, they have to be built up gradually in order to work safely in extreme heat.

What does this mean for your hero? If he's riding a hot weather horse into the cold, he'll likely do fine, except the hero does need to be sure the horse is drinking enough since they can refuse water that's too cold if the general clime is cold. If he's riding a cold weather horse into the heat - he's likely have trouble along the lines of muchly reduced endurance. That initial burst of speed might be only slightly less, but I wouldn't expect him to be able to maintain it. Dehydration and heat stress is a very serious issue in horses because the beginning stages are subtle and erratic. Even the most experienced horseman can have trouble recognizing the danger signs and by the time the horse starts showing clinic signs, it's often too late.

In spite of the heat, I'm riding more since I have more time each day with the schoolwork done for the year. I'm not sure I'll get to make any summer rides, but I'll have some horses ready for some of the fall AERC Endurance schedule.

As much as we rode through the spring, we've missed several events in May and into June due to a combination of things, but mostly the fuel prices. ... I say that, and then I had to pull out my calendar. I've stay home and missed 7 events in the last 9 weeks. That's well over 1500 miles of driving with diesel in the $4.70/gal range. *ouch* The calendar is full for the rest of the year, but I'm already chewing the end of my pencil. I'm not sure how many of those we can do. It's disheartening to have been patient for so many years and now when I finally have a nice new truck and trailer and half-grown kids, it's still so hard to get down the road. ... Ack! Enough whining for me. - back to writing!


L.A. Mitchell said...

Good information on horses, as usual :) I'm sure most of us non-horsey people wouldn't give much thought to the temperature.

Val said...

[See my latest ride report for effects of high heat/humidity even on supposedly well-acclimatized southern horses!]
But w/criteria set @ 60, most of the metabolic pulls were for failure to recover & luckily there were no treatments...

Leah Braemel said...

Ditto to what l.a. mitchell said.

And though it wasn't hot here on the weekend, my sister watched a dog at an outdoor dogshow die of heatstroke. The owners had kept it in the shade, it was in the low 20s (that's Celsius, so low 70sF), but the only thing they can think is the dog crate they'd kept it in wasn't getting enough air flow.

I'd never thought about worrying about the tempertaure when my hero rides his horse, but I guess that'll have to be another on my list of things to keep track of.

K.M. Saint James said...

That's really great info about the horses. I didn't realize how much the heat actually affected them. I don't know why that didn't occur to me; I certainly know dogs, cats, rabbits, and birds all need to have their water levels adjusted as the heat soars. I guess I always thought of horses as already acclimated to the weather and obviously they need time to change like everyone else.

I write contemporary, but set in small-town Texas and I might very well be tempted to put one of my heroes on horseback. Now, I'll know how to do it.

Thanks, again, and happy writing.

Cathy said...

I know the frustration of getting soooo close (that's where I was in 98/99)