Neu Perspectives

Summer Hours

The heat of the Texas summers brings a new challenge to those with horses. Learning how to adjust is vital to surviving triple digit summers.

Well, we’re back into triple digits again here in Texas.

For some, this isn’t too big of a deal — a mild inconvenience on weekends and more laundry, at most. But for those of us who work outside, it’s a bit of a schedule changer. It’s something that brings risks and dangers to be constantly aware of with our animals, equipment, hired help and even our own health. 

I’m one of those annoying people who actually enjoys a Texas summer, but I understand why some folks don’t. I like the break in my schedule, and I would take hot over cold most every day. We’ve ducked and dodged the heat many different ways over the years (getting up early, getting up SUPER early, and more), but we’ve found that working nights is the best fit for us.

We get up at a decent hour and ride until it’s hot. Then we pause, rest, run errands during the middle of the day and then start again around dark. We gather up cattle, horses and whatever else we might need, turn our music on and work under the glow of arena lights until well after midnight. 

The downside of this is that it takes some adjustment. We have to train ourselves to stretch into coyote hours and take on the workload. But there are perks, too. I don’t have to fight my way out of bed at 3 a.m. to start my day). There are very little distractions or pauses to our schedule, as most folks — including farriers, dirtwork, hay deliveries, and more — keep normal daytime hours and show up around my place then.

As we work, the evening gets cooler, not hotter, as the morning does. Summer brings peace, a focus and a different sort of riding situation to our horses. We aren’t starting as many, so we get to really key into each horse and what they need to work on. Working a cow is a happier situation in the cooler temperatures. And if there’s a moon, we may even ride outside the pen and take a trot around our place. 

For this to all work, I do think it’s important to spend time during the day with my horses as well. We try to counter some of the risks from sweating and heat with electrolytes, supplements and cool fresh water at all times. Hot temperatures can bring on heat stress, heat stroke and colic, among other things, and we all need to be sure we realize when a horse is not acting normal.

A sick horse can go downhill quickly in extreme temperatures. My foals and broodmares are on coast-mode for a while since breeding season is wrapping up, and the colts and fillies have all been handled and halter-broke, but it’s still important for me to lay my eyes and hands on everyone daily to monitor their normal patterns. 

For those who are winter warriors, my hats off to you. You are a tough bunch with a skillset I’m not versed in. (We do deal with cold temperatures here in Texas some, but dragging my shorts-loving self through a 5-month long solid-snow period would probably do me in.) And I’m not in denial about the drudgery of our summers. The bugs are bad. The snakes are out. The temperatures are high. The days are long.

But summer brings a whole different pace to my life that I sort of embrace. I like the big pause in the middle of the day. I’ve learned to lean into the challenge of being physically fit, adjusted and acclimated to taking care of my animals and my place when the temperatures are high.  Though when a storm rolls through in the afternoon and cools everything back down to the 70s for a little bit, I promise I won’t complain.

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