Remember a few short weeks ago when we were all moaning and groaning about the cold, the snow and the unseasonably long winter weather? Well, no worries because Mother Nature knows just how to be hilarious and is officially here with summer. It’s not that I don’t like summer, it’s just that I would prefer to not be coated in sweat for 18 hours of every day, and I feel bad for my horses when they are dive-bombed by vicious green or black flies, and my tan lines are literally the worst thing you’ve ever seen in your life right now.
Summer survival is nothing fancy … when you have a normal life. When you have a horse life, it’s a little more complicated. You have to worry about dehydration, heat stroke (hey-o!), cruelty to animals, cruelty to children, sunburns to end all sunburns and general hatred towards the sun. I think I must genetically be ill adapted toward hot weather, so I’ve come up with a pretty essential list of how to properly survive the hot months when you’re outside all day.
1. Get Up Early: Look, I have narcolepsy and I can manage to drag my butt out of bed a little earlier in the summer months, so there is no reason why you can’t too! In all seriousness, while those first 10 minutes might be the worst 10 minutes of your day, you’ll thank me when you experience one or two hours of relative cool weather. Your horses will be ready to come in from a night’s worth of grazing, and they will also delight in the idea of not sweating ten billion gallons every time you ride them. I ride the
horses I love most big competition horses in the morning because they work the hardest. Then, they can nap all day. Bonus: Sunrises are awesome, and you will rule Instagram with them.
2. Iced Coffee: This is integral to success of step one, getting up early and not hating your life. Who doesn’t love iced coffee? Except it’s totally gross when you get it and it’s just hot coffee that somebody added ice to and now it’s all watery and blegh. So here’s a life-changing strategy: cold brew it overnight! I don’t care that you know the secret to my success — it’s this recipe for cold brew coffee. So easy a monkey could do it, AND it totally decreases the amount of time you spend on your coffee production in the morning AND it’s the most delicious and refreshing thing ever. Get your paws on this recipe here.
3: Hydration: Electrolyte Pills & Horsey Thirst: This one’s kind of a no brainer, but sometimes there just isn’t enough water in the world to keep up with the kind of sweating that is going on. I find that a half and half mix of gatorade and water keeps me feeling good, but sometimes I almost feel like my stomach is bloating from liquid consumption, which is where my electrolyte pills come in handy. I use Hammer Endurolytes, and I take one in the morning to keep me going strong all day. You can get them at athletic shops or online.
While we’re at it, don’t forget to keep your poor ponies hydrated! Make sure that no matter where they are, they have a fresh and clean supply of water, nothing with dead bugs in it because I hear that makes it taste nasty. Summer months mean electrolytes for the working horses (I like Summer Games from Kentucky Performance Products) and even sometimes for the oldies too. For those who have trouble with regular drinking at shows or at home, Horse Quencher is a godsend. Get you some.
4. Hats (#Mindyourmelon and Otherwise): I learned from Kim Severson that if you’re going to be spending any time in an arena, in the boiling hot sun, you better get yourself a sweet sunhat. Bonus points if you look stylish as hell in it. Also, don’t be ashamed to go pure nerd and buy an EquiVisor because although you might look dorky, secretly everybody is jealous of your shady face. Let’s be real here, there are already plenty of really leathery, wrinkly old horse people out there. Do yourself a favor and don’t add to that number. Also, you know, it’s pretty bad for you.
5. Dunking Your Head In A Bucket of Water: When all else fails, here’s a tried and true (if a bit messy) method for you. When you feel like your head is going to explode and your face is the color of a tomato, this will make you feel like a whole new person. Take your sweaty, gross, sticky head and dunk it in a bucket of cool water. Now, for the next little while, you can have cool water dripping down your back (let’s face it, your shirt was soaking wet anyway) and it’s actually a great way to emergency cool. Almost as good as …
6. Popsicles: Listen, this is real life — if you don’t have popsicles in your freezer right now, I don’t know how to deal with you. I’m not even sure how to explain this obvious answer to the heat, other than it feels like an icy, arctic, delicious party in your mouth and nothing can be better after a day in the hot sun.
7: Fly Control: While this might not be directly related to the hot hot heat, it’s certainly amongst the most disgusting side effects of summer months. I swear to god, if another deer fly bites me on the cheek while I’m enjoying a relaxing hack through the woods … There are, sadly, not a lot of ways to deter those buggers when you’re away from home, but keeping your barn in proper fly killing condition is important. Fly Predators, if you have a muck heap near the barn, are totally amazing. They eat flies — what more could you ask for? Also, I have these things that I hang in the aisle called Trap ‘N Toss Fly Traps that hold up to 10,000 flies and suck them into their watery deaths with fly sex pheromones. Take that, nasty barn flies!
8: Don’t Be A Dummy: If you can avoid it, try not to ride at the peak heat times of the day. If you absolutely have to, schedule the horses that can go on a hack, or ride indoors if you’re lucky enough to have that option. I’ve had heat stroke enough times to tell you that it really sucks, and feeling generally concussed for a while just isn’t that cool. Make sure you take enough walk breaks during rides to avoid overheating for both you and the horse. Survive!