Polo at Hurtwood Park


Horse Care in Hot Weather

Mayes & Scrine Equine Veterinary Practice

Extreme weather is upon us. Horses are very prone to overheating. On strenuous exercise their body temperatures can become severely hyperthermic – over 41 degrees Celsius. This can be dangerous – and can even cause collapse and death.

They are big creatures with a low surface area: volume ratio, so they find it hard to loose heat. Sweating is their main way of cooling down: as the fluid evaporates it draws latent heat of vaporisation from its surroundings.

Cooling them down, using copious buckets of water or hosing all over is very effective. If hot after exercise on a hot day, use plenty of water, and more again. Many horses will now be out at night, in during the day, primarily to avoid flies. But, in this extreme heat, some types of stables can get very hot indeed, especially in the afternoon, however if they are in a field this should have plenty of shade. Taking their temperature is worth considering doing.

Curtailing strenuous activities in the heat of the day too: Good luck and stay safe!

Tips on how to avoid heat stroke in horses

Here are some tips on how to avoid your horse getting heat stroke:

  • Horses in work should be kept as cool as possible before, during and after ridden work
  • Exercising your horse should be done during cooler times, so early in the morning or late in the evening
  • Make sure you cool down your horse by hosing them down, using copious buckets of water or hosing all over is very effective. If hot after exercise on a hot day, use plenty of water, and more again.

Signs of heatstroke in horses

  • Weakness
  • Increased temperature (normal temperature should be 37.5-38.5°C)
  • High respiratory and heart rate (normal respiration rate should be 12-16 breaths per minute/normal heart rate should be 30-45 beats per minute)
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Dry mucous membranes in the mouth – they should be a pink salmon colour and have a slimy feel to them

If you are worried your horse may be showing signs of heat stroke
then please to not hesitate to call us on 01306 628222.

Polo at Hurtwood Park

Horse Care in Covid 19

Mayes & Scrine Equine Veterinary Practice

During the pandemic it has been difficult to keep horses in full work or in a normal routine. Important things to consider:

  • Follow any guidelines given by your livery yard. Some yards did not allow owners access to the yards during full lock down and have now started allowing people to return. Follow the individual rules on your yard and be respectful of others who may be more vulnerable.
  • Feeding: If you have had to reduce work, reduce feed accordingly. Minimal hard feed is necessary if the horse has good roughage and is in little work.
  • Exercise: many people have chosen to reduce their horses’ exercised during this time in order to reduce risk of injury to themselves and decrease pressure on the NHS. As you begin working horses again be mindful that they will be fresh after time off and you may need to lunge them before riding or seek help from a professional as to how to bring them back to work safely.
  • Farriery: Your horse’s feet still need attention during this time. Contact your farrier regarding how he is working and maintaining social distance. You may need to have the horse tied outside ready for the farrier and stand 2m from them. Oral sedation may need to be considered if the horse needs further restraint , contact your vet regarding this.
  • Vets: Your veterinary team are still on hand to treat your horse for any urgent injury or illness. Routine appointments and vaccinations have now also resumed. Contact your vet prior to any appointments to discuss how social distance will be maintained, the vet may need to sedate the horse to examine it properly when this may not be necessary under normal circumstances.
  • Physio and other treatments: Some practitioners are now offering their services again in these areas. Make sure you call to discuss the appointment in advance so that you know how social distance can be maintained in individual circumstances and whether the appointment can be carried out at low risk.


1. Welfare of Ponies.

The Stewards are determined that any abuse of ponies whether on the ground or off, for instance when turned out, will not be tolerated.

2. Inspection of Ponies.

With the approval of the Welfare Committee, the Chairman of that committee may ask a veterinary surgeon and a member of the committee, to inspect ponies belonging to an associate member or affiliated club, whether on a polo ground in a yard or turned out. If the associate member or club refuse permission for the inspection, which may be carried out at short notice, they will be reported to the Stewards under Regulation 6.

3. Referral to Stewards.

The Chairman of the Welfare Committee may refer any club or associate member direct to the Stewards for a disciplinary hearing.

4. Welfare Cover at Polo.

At all games run by an affiliated club, an official of that club must be in attendance in case a welfare problem arises.

See also Rule 10.

5. Complaints.

If a complaint is received, whether from the general public, a veterinary surgeon, a club official, an officer of any other horse welfare body or from a member of the Welfare Committee a report form should be completed and sent to the Chairman of the Committee and the club concerned. The Chairman will liaise with the club concerned as to the action to be taken; if it is necessary for an inspection to be made with a veterinary surgeon his cost will be borne by the club concerned. A Club Disciplinary Committee is obliged under Regulation 6 to hold a hearing, if they receive a report from a veterinary surgeon concerning abuse or cruelty to any pony. A report of that hearing must be sent to the Welfare Committee Chairman.

6. Responsibilities.

  1. Owners must take all responsible steps to ensure the welfare of their ponies including during the winter months. ‘Owner’ shall mean the individual or individuals whom the Disciplinary Committee is satisfied in fact enjoy the rights, privileges and powers incidental to ownership. This includes, without limitation, the power to make decisions concerning the care and welfare of the animal, whether such individual(s) had any legal status as owner or not. In the case of hirelings, a member of the HPA involved in the hiring of ponies has the responsibility of ‘owner’ until the pony or ponies concerned have been handed over officially to another member of the HPA or his agent.
  2. Clubs. In view of the fact that, particularly early in the season, some ponies appear on the polo ground in poor bodily condition, it is recommended that a representative of the club should informally inspect the pony lines to observe any ponies in a poor condition and then refer them to the veterinary surgeon required – see paragraph 16 below. If a club and a veterinary surgeon stop a pony playing because of its poor condition, a report form must be sent to the Chairman of the Welfare Committee.

7. Rules.

The Rules that affect the welfare of ponies must be adhered to by members and enforced by clubs and umpires.

  1. Rule 2h- Spurs and Whips. Umpires should inspect spurs before a match and have removed any sharp ones. They should fill in a report form to ensure that the same spurs do not appear at other clubs.
  2. Rule 4 – Ponies, Pony Equipment and Pony Welfare (i) Poor or badly fitted tack which is causing physical damage to the pony is not allowed. (ii) Any pony that is seen to be lame should be referred to the duty veterinary surgeon before resuming another chukka. (If a pony does resume play, it is suggested that a public announcement should made). Lame ponies should not play. If a pony is not sound, it is the Umpire’s responsibility in the absence of a vet, to see that the pony is taken off the ground in the most humane way possible. (iii) No pony may play seen with blood in its mouth. Ponies seen with blood in their mouths or excess spur or whip marks should be reported to the umpire or the referee, who should then request that the pony be inspected by the veterinary surgeon. If no veterinary surgeon is present (iii) the pony should be inspected by an official or representative of the club; if in doubt about the severity of the wound, the pony should not be allowed to play until a veterinary surgeon’s report has been received.
  3. Rule 10 – Veterinary Cover.
  4. Rule 28 – Play Stopped for Dangerous or Broken Tack, Pony Condition or Equipment.
  5. Rule 29 – Play stopped for Accident or Injury to Pony.
  6. Rule 35 – Riding Off, Dangerous Riding and Intimidation.
  7. Rule 36 – Hooking and Misuse of Stick.
  8. Rule 37 – Rough or Abusive Behaviour.

8. Water.

The with-holding of water for an extended period of time is detrimental to pony’s health and should not be allowed.

9. Shoeing.

The Farriers’ Registration Act, which has been law since 1975, states that person who shoes a horse, including their own, must be a registered farrier.

10. Pony ‘Put Down’.

In the event of it appearing desirable for a pony to be put down for humane reasons, such reasonable efforts as the circumstances permit should be made to contact the owner for his decision. Should the owner not be so contactable, the own representative or the person borrowing or renting the pony should take responsibility for authorising the pony to be put down, if he is satisfied that the horse is in extremis i.e. that it cannot be moved without an unacceptable degree of discomfort and where there is no foreseeable prospect of the pony recovering from its injuries. It is suggested that chemical euthanasia may well be used in the event of a pony having to be put down in front of the public; in that case, the carcass will have to be destroyed.

11. Misuse of Drugs.

  1. Local Anaesthetics. Local anaesthetics may be used to repair a wound but, following their use, a pony is not allowed to play unless passed fit to do so by a veterinary surgeon.
  2. Banned Drugs. Although some drugs banned in other sports may be appropriately used in moderation in connection with polo ponies, heart stimulants of any kind are NOT to be administered under any circumstances, due to the danger to both horse and rider. The administration of any drug or substance which is not a normal constituent of horse feed is banned with the exception of the following: (i) Phenylbutazone and Flunixin. The concentration in the blood plasma of phenylbutazone, with its active metabolite oxyphenbutazone, or of flunixin must be less than 10 micrograms per ml of plasma. If they are used together the concentration of either must be less than 5 ug/ml. It is recommended that, to i stay within these limits, a maximum dose of phenylbutazone is 2 grams a day and the last dose should be given no later than 10 p.m. on the night before play. A recommended dose of flunixin is no more than 2 x 10 gram sachets of Finadyne per day. In both cases, the dose should be halved if both are given. ii) Ventipulmin TM (iii) Sputolosin TM (iv) Vi-Sorbin TM (v) Isoxsuprine (vi) Regumate TM (vii) Antibiotics except procaine penicillin. (viii) Oral Diuretics but only if prior declaration of their administration has been made to the Club. Their intravenous use is not allowed.
  3. Testing. Both random and specific tests will be arranged by the HPA and the clubs a considered necessary. The services of the Horseracing Forensic Laboratory will be used.
  4. Positive Test. If a sample of a pony’s blood when tested proves to have quantities of drugs above the permitted levels, a report form must be completed and copies sent to the player and the owner of the pony and their clubs and to the Chairman of the Welfare Committee. The club to which the owner belongs is bound to hold a disciplinary hearing.

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