HORSES IN THE SUN
Horses never cease to amaze us.
Besides their incredible ability to connect with humans, they are also well-adapted creatures that fare well in different environments. Images of horses running along a beach, a sandy desert, or snow-covered ground may come to mind.
Horses thrive in temperatures between 18 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit, and in hot conditions, they are able to sweat up two to four gallons of water per hour to cool down. Although this may sound like a lot, this amount of sweating is normal for horses. Like humans, they have sweat glands and use sweating as a cooling mechanism. It is through the evaporation of sweat that they are able to cool down.
During spring or early fall, when you visit Equinimity, you may see some of the horses lying flat on their sides enjoying the sun. Getting enough sun is important as it promotes Vitamin D production which helps keep bones, joints, and muscles healthy and strong. While the sun brings a lot of good to horses and humans alike, too much exposure can be harmful.
Adding to the myriad of similarities between horses and humans is the fact that horses can get sunburn too - particularly horses with light-colored coats and horses with bald faces or a white blaze. A blaze is a wide white stripe down the middle of the face of a horse, and a horse with a bald face is one that has a large blaze that extends to or past the eyes. When a horse gets sunburn, the skin turns red, may blister or peel, and is sensitive to the touch. Sunburn usually occurs on the muzzle and around the eyes. Similar to sunburn, horses can develop a condition that causes skin sensitivity to ultraviolet rays called Photosensitization which causes redness, swelling, sensitivity, weeping of fluid, and skin peeling. At worst, long exposure to extreme heat can result in heatstroke and skin cancer.
At Equinimity, we do all that we can to make sure that the horses are protected against the hot Arizona sun. Horses have access to cool, fresh water and their activities outdoors are scheduled early in the morning in the summer. While they are free to roam and eat in the arena, there are trees all around that offer much-needed shade. There is also a misting system in the loafing shed. Recently, we launched the Share in the Care of the Herd project which aims to raise funds to purchase a large shade structure and other supplies for the horses.
Horses are integral to our work and we consider them partners in delivering meaningful programs to our community. Out of our 13 offerings, seven are conducted outdoors, four of which are alongside horses. One of these programs is Mindful Grooming - a relaxing 90 minute session where people can participate in a communal mindfulness practice alongside horses. During Fall, Winter, and Spring, we offer this program from noon to 1:30 pm, aware that for some people, having time during the workday to decompress is essential. With the summer just around the corner, we hope that we can continue to extend this program with the help of a shade structure to keep both humans and horses safe and comfortable. As more and more people head back to the workplace, opportunities to connect with nature to help ease into changing routines become all the more valuable. But while these opportunities are important, the safety of both horses and humans is always our top priority.
We are incredibly fortunate in Tucson to have mild winters but the summer months make it challenging to enjoy the great outdoors at certain times. The sun shines longer, temperatures soar, and the dry heat makes being outside for an extended period unbearable. Although getting some sun is essential, horses can experience negative effects when they are exposed to too much sun. By being mindful of what it takes to stay safe, together, we can still experience all that nature has to offer.
With the weather still relatively cool, we have programs scheduled at different times throughout the week. Check out our list of current offerings!