Tuesdays with Tony – November 3, 2015
Ok, I am all for summer. Really I am, even as a black cat. Sunshine until 9pm, green grass, afternoon thunderstorms. It’s all great. Then Fall is supposed to come. Even in North Central Florida there is a season which is less hot and humid than the one called Summer. Some people call it Fall, Winter, or Spring. Around here, it’s really just not Summer but at least it’s not Summer and that doesn’t seem to be happening. Luckily, as the smart species, I just hang in the air conditioned office where I can kick Renee out of her chair and sleep in comfort.
Horses, not being as smart as cats, are stuck outside in this heat and humidity. Even worse, many of them think that they should grow a winter coat. Mother Nature gave them an internal clock which says come August 15th it’s time to get ready for winter. This worked fantastic on the steppes of Mongolia
(horses evolved there) where summer was often a balmy 65 degrees but here in Florida where it is 90 degrees on November 1st, not so much. All this adds up to some very hot horses.
What’s a horse got to do to stay cool around here? Well, as a cat, I recommend moving in to the house, supervising the humans, and demanding food at all hours of the day and night. However, if you can’t move inside have your human get out the clippers. Just like us cats, especially Teanie, my cohort in crime at Springhill Equine, horses have more than one layer to their coats. When they grow a winter coat they not only grow longer hair, but they grow more undercoat. Undercoats are awesome…if you live somewhere with Winter! Undercoats hold on to body heat, offer water resistance, and puff up your upper coat making even more insulation. None of that is good if you are trying to cool off. Clipping removes the long hairs and shortens the undercoat so the heat can leave the skin. The trade-off is no more waterproof layer. The answer: the ever-artistic trace clip. Trace clips take off the hair where most of the body heat needs to leave. Most commonly this is the underside of the neck and belly, and up the flank a bit where horses sweat the most. Depending on what your horse does you can increase or decrease the size of the clipped area. This leaves hair, and thus waterproofing, on the top-line. Most horses in Florida can get through an entire winter without a blanket with a trace clip.
Having really embraced domestication I find the temperature controlled environment of the clinic to be ideal for this cat. Horses just haven’t quite moved in to the house and are stuck outside in the weather (eww, I mean all that nature). Need help sorting out if your horse is sick, hot, or lame? Give us a call. Oh, and Baby Vurgason, you can get here any time now 😉