Horses have what is known as an upper and lower “critical temperature.” This means that the animal has difficulty maintaining a heathy core temperature above or below this range. The range can vary based on how the horse was groomed and the state of its natural coat. Also, in winter conditions, a horse can get dehydrated if its water trough freezes.
Most horses are comfortable in typical outdoor conditions, provided they are groomed and well cared for, regularly exercised, properly fed and watered, and have access to shelter from rain, sun, and other elements. In the peak of summer and winter, however, it’s important to monitor outdoor temperature humidity and be ready to take action a horse’s upper or lower critical temperature range is exceeded. Above a horse’s critical temperature, you might need to take steps to cool your horse down, such as applying a sponge bath. Below a horse’s critical temperature, the animal may need to be blanketed. In the winter, it’s also crucial to monitor the temperature of a horse’s water supply.
The recommendations listed below are general guidelines on safe temperature conditions for horses. ALWAYS check with your veterinarian for specific care instructions:
- Critical Temperature for Horses - Winter: Winter temperature recommendations for horses will largely depend on whether or not your horse was clipped, and/or if the horse becomes wet:
- A dry, clipped horse will grow cold below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius).
- A dry horse with a full winter coat will grow cold below 18 degrees Fahrenheit (-8 degrees Celsius).
- A wet horse will generally get cold at temperatures 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit (5-8 degrees Celsius) higher than a dry horse.
- Critical Temperature for Horses - Summer: Horses have a difficult time regulating temperature above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius). Make sure your horse has access to cool water (ideally kept between 45-64 degrees Fahrenheit (7-18 degrees Celsius) plus plenty of access to shade, cooling fans, a water misting system, and salt.