We only have pasture grass for a short time in the summer, so the horses can hardly wait until they are finally turned out on it. After about 6 weeks at their all-you-can-eat salad bar—between the heat, biting bugs, wet ground, and wet grass—they begin to get tired of it, and start to appreciate eating their dry hay in the barn more.
Our climate here in the Colorado Rockies is cool and dry, so summers are quite mild, but no matter where you live, mid-summer generally brings horsecare challenges. Since my horses regularly appear on camera and in front of live audiences, keeping them well-groomed with shiny and dappled haircoats is a big priority.
At this altitude, the UV rays are 40% more intense than at sea level, so unless we keep the horses covered and their hair well-conditioned, their coats will get sunburned, dull and frizzy.
Keeping the horses comfortable in the heat can be tough—a fly sheet must be cool and ventilated and fly spray is essential. In the irrigated fields at my ranch, the insects get intense, so protection from biting bugs is important.
I prefer to buy my fly spray in the large jugs and reuse the spray bottles to reduce plastic waste, because this time of year we go through a lot—spraying the horses twice a day for their comfort. I like the Ultra-Shield family of fly control products because I can customize it to the horse and the situation. We’ve got some horses that I can only use the all-natural product on because of their skin sensitivity, but we have some horses that are so sensitive to bugbites that they need the extra-strong solution.
In this month’s episode of Ride On with Julie Goodnight, I’m going to share more of my head-to-tail summer skin care tips about many issues horse owners struggle with when their horses and hot temps collide. It will be out next week, so be sure to check it out at JulieGoodnight.com/podcast, or subscribe on your favorite podcast app.
My sweet little mare, Annie, is enjoying some lazier summer days. We have no clinics or expos in July and August, so it’s a good time for both of us to take a break. I am taking my break at the lake, while Annie gets free-longed with her buddies daily.
To keep her in some semblance of riding shape, she gets saddled and ridden only one day a week. We use that time to take her out alone, so she also remembers that she doesn’t have to be with the herd every waking moment.
Dealing with herd-bound issues only gets harder when horses reach middle age, so we must work harder at keeping the horses independent. You cannot ignore horses for weeks on end then be mad when they become herd-bound. Keeping horses independent requires regular maintenance.
Rich and his horse, Casper, have been upgrading their cow work this summer by attending clinics and taking lessons. Casper is a finished reiner with team roping and ranching experience—an ideal versatility ranch horse prospect. What is lacking in his experience has to do with cutting, boxing, and taking a cow down the fence. Sometimes it’s hard to get a horse trained for team roping to pass the cow and turn it back—it goes against what they’ve been taught.
The amazing thing about horses is their ability to understand the task you need them to accomplish, do the job without being told, and be able to switch gears when the situation changes. All kinds of horses—from polo ponies, to all-around show horses, to feedlot horses—understand the goal and adjust to the situation. Horses are truly amazing animals in that way, and one big reason they have been integral to our society for thousands of years.
Soon I’ll be looking at summer in my rearview mirror, so I am determined to enjoy every day of it. and not to whine about the heat. Once fall is here, it cools down fast up here in the mountains, and I will be hitting the road hard—with three vacation clinics in Colorado, two riding tours in Ireland, plus the CHA Conference in Tennessee.
Horse expos and clinics are making a big comeback now, and I am in discussions for many different events coming up in 2023 and 2024. It’s just like “before-times” to be booking events a year or two out! You can find out more about the expos I’ll be presenting at, my clinics that are open to the public, and my fabulous riding vacations and JulieGoodnight.com/Events. I hope to see you down the road!
Enjoy the ride,