The Late Season Hot Flash

It’s early October in Southern Ontario. Day time temperatures that should be in the low to mid teens Celsius are lurking in the low to mid 20s range instead. Mother Nature is having a hot flash and my horse, Bear, is sporting a thick and furry winter coat. Is that a confused look on his face?

A horse’s coat changes from season to season according to the number of daylight hours, not the cooling or warming of temperatures as one might imagine. As the days grow shorter a horse’s winter coat grows in more thick and fuzzy. Conversely, as the days get longer, the winter duds are shed and a new spring coat blossoms. It’s one of life’s many miracles.

But this cycle doesn’t account for the occasional meteorological anomaly such as the one we’re experiencing now.

Bear, and his hirsute equine buddies, are caught helpless in the sweaty palms of an autumn hot spell. What’s a horse to do?

The heat is especially troublesome when we’re training since he can overheat and work up a matted, sticky sweat in no time at all. To address this we pace ourselves more carefully and keep our sessions short. (Since I am a woman-of-a-certain-age this is fine with me as I am all too familiar with the ravaging fury of the hot flash.)

On the flip side, unfettered sunshine allows Bear to dry almost instantly when training is done. And, with a bit of elbow grease from me to clean him up and a handful of juicy carrots, things are soon set to right again. I even encourage Bear to roll in his favourite dirt patch in the paddock for added relief, notwithstanding the fact that extracting dirt from his fuzzy, furry winter coat afterwards is a futile task at best. But it’s a small price to pay for his overall comfort and well being. I want him to feel good and be happy at work, rest and play.

My coach says that Bear is well equipped to deal with all types of meteorological anomalies, including the late season hot flash — notwithstanding the confused look on his face.

Nurture what you love,


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