Heat Distress and Your Horse

Beautiful sport horse portrait during dressage testWith the hot dry weather we’ve had this summer in Santa Clara County and virtually no summer fog, it’s more important than ever to watch your horse for signs of heat stress.

Heat stress puts your horse at risk for dehydration, weakness, colic, even heat-stroke and coma.

Horses that are dark in color, old, over-weight, out of shape, ill or exercising strenuously are at higher risk and should be watched in hot weather for signs of:

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive salivation
  • Stumbling gait
  • Heavy sweating or lack of sweating
  • Fast heartbeat
  • High temperature
  • Lethargy
  • Refusal to eat or drink


  • Take care not to expose your horse to excessive heat and humidity, especially if the horse is actively working or being ridden.
  • Be sure to provide plenty of fresh clean water at all times
  • Ensure your horse has access to shade all day
  • If you have multiple horses in pasture be sure one horse doesn’t get kicked out into the sun all day!
  • Ask your vet about adding salt or electrolytes to your horses feed
  • Put a fan outside your horse’s stall to cool her
  • Feed your horse soaked hay, bran mash or soaked beet pulp
  • Avoid feeding your horse a big meal before exercise


  • If you suspect your horse is suffering from the heat, cool them down quickly with water applied to the skin, over the forehead, neck, jugular groove and lower legs.
  • Once the horse is less distressed you can continue hosing off the entire body until the water runs cool, indicating no more heat is coming from your horse.
  • Offer small amounts of tepid water at intervals, if she refuses to drink come back to it in a few minutes
  • If your horse is severely stressed, their skin is dry or not elastic,or their temperature is over 105 call your vet immediately. He or she may need to administer fluids and electrolytes intravenously.

Remember, this page is for advice only but if there is any question at all about what you should do, call your vet.

Adopt a wild mustang in Silicon Valley?

Sorrel Mustang

Have you always wanted to adopt a wild mustang? Here’s your chance, right here in Silicon Valley.

“The Bureau of Land Management protects, manages, and controls wild horses and burros under the authority of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 to ensure that healthy herds thrive on healthy rangelands. The BLM manages these living symbols of the Western spirit as part of its multiple-use mission under the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act .”

One of the BLM’s key responsibilities under the 1971 law is to determine the “appropriate management level” (AML) of wild horses and burros on the public rangelands. These animals have virtually no natural predators and their herd sizes can double about every four years. As a result, about 31,000 wild horses and burros roam BLM-managed lands in 10 Western states, a population that exceeds by about 3,500 the number that can exist in balance with other public rangeland resources and uses.

To help restore the balance, the BLM gathers some wild horses and burros and offers them for adoption or sale to those individuals and groups willing and able to provide humane, long-term care.

On May 3rd, 2014 you can see some of these wild horses up for adoption, and maybe even take one home from the Santa Clara County Horsemen’s Association. 20350 McKean Road, San Jose, Ca. 95120. The SCCHA Juniors will be also be holding a flea market sale on the same day, in case you need some new tack for that adopted horse!

If you can’t make it to the adoption at the SCCHA, you can see a list of adoption events here, or visit  the Litchfield or Ridgecrest Corrals Monday through Friday during business hours.   It’s a good idea to download and fill out your adoption application prior to arrival.  You can also fill out the adoption form at the SCCHA adoption event.

IMPORTANT NOTE:   Adoptions are open from 8 am to 5 pm on the day of the adoption.   For all adoptions, after the silent bidding has concluded, any remaining animals will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Garrod Farms, a Bay Area Classic Stable

GHarrod Stables in Saratoga, CaGarrod Farms, known to the locals as simply “Garrod‘s” is nestled in the foothills in Saratoga and adjacent Mid-Peninsula Open Space Preserve with spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay, Santa Clara Valley and Santa Cruz mountains.

The farm was established in 1893 and the original apricot and prune orchards were gradually phased out and the stables built in 1962, followed by more barns and an arena in 1964. the fruit trees were replaced with wine grapes in the 1970’s.

Garrod‘s currently has 120 acres of stables, pasture, vineyards, an active winery and tasting room, family home and access to 23 miles of riding trails in the Open Space Preserve.

There is a large covered arena as well as a second large open arena, 2 lounging arenas, a round pen and 3 wash racks for bathing. All disciplines or riding are welcome and trainers and instructors are available on-site as well.

Boarding runs from full care to straight board and the accommodations range from pasture and a small shared field to paddocks and box stalls.

If you don’t have your own horse you can rent one for a guided trail ride, including the popular wine ride which concludes with a tasting at the winery and a mini-buffet.


Adopt a Horse From the Equine Rescue Center and Sanctuary

Gabe- yearling gelding for adoptionMeet Gabe. He’s a quarter horse orphaned foal from Las Vegas, just gelded and now a yearling.

His mom went to slaughter when he was 2 months old and he and many other foals were left at a feed lot. The Equine Rescue Center and Sanctuary in Watsonville, Ca. took in 5 of the babies, including Gabe.

Gabe has the nicest disposition independent and loves being groomed. He will be easy to train. If you’re looking for a horse to love on and start from the ground up he’d be a great addition to your family!

More about the Equine Rescue Sanctuary (ERC)
A no-kill rescue, ERC provides a home for older and injured equines as well as a safe place for younger horses to stay until they find their forever home.

The team at ERC gives these horses humane treatment, training,  love and a natural herd environment in which to live out their days.

Here’s a video with more information on ERC. Visit the ERC website to learn how to help or adopt a horse.

Backcountry Horseback Riding in Calero County Park

horseback riding in the bay areaCalero is one of my favorite places to ride for several reasons. There is ample parking in the staging area for trucks and trailers and there are just about always a few horses on the trail, especially on the weekends. There are a little over18 miles of trails which are very well maintained and range from single-track to wide dirt fire roads for hikers and horseback riders only. No dogs are allowed on the trail or mountain bikes, a welcome respite from some of the businer bay area trails. You’ll see lots of deer, the occasional herd of wild pigs, turkeys and orther small wildlife. That’s not to say that bobcat and mountain lion don’t roam these hills, but I’ve never seen one.

About the park

Once part of the Pueblo lands of San Jose, and Rancho San Vincente land grant, this 4,000+ acre park is nestled in the eastern foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. There are two distinct areas to the park. The area around the reservoir, taken up with boaters and water recreation and the “backcountry” area, which roams the hillsides covered with Oak, Chapparal and open expanses of grassland.


The rolling foothills offer amazing views of the Santa Cruz mountains as well as the valley, but you’ve got to climb to get there. Some trails are steeper than others, and it depends on the athleticism of your horse. In rainy weather the trails can be slippery ahd there may be a creek or two to ford, but the rest of the year they’re easy to navigate and not too rocky.

Favorite trails

There are a lot of routes to take and we highly recommend dowloading the trail map (PDF) from the county website to take with you. Any which way you go, once you climb the hills you are rewarded with breathtaking views of southern Santa Clara County and the surrounding Santa Cruz Mountain Range. Here are two rides we take regularly.

1.5 hour ride, moderate climb

Start out at the staging area and take the Pena trail to the first intersection. If you bear right you’ll quickly encounter some very steep climbs. We prefer to bear left, up over the rise following the Figueroa trail as it winds along the lower portion of the hillsides and through the woods. When we reach the Vallecito trail we turn right for a short climb, then join the Pena trail on the upper portion of the hillside and back down Figeroa to home.

2- 2.5 hour ride, moderate to steep climb

Start out at the staging area and take the Pena trail to the first intersection. Bear left, up over the rise following the Figueroa trail as it winds along the lower portion of the hillsides and through the woods. Take a left on the Javelina Loop Trail and then bear right around the hillside. This isn’t too steep until about a mile up Javelina and then it gets quite steep and there are rocky areas. If your horse is barefoot you might consider boots. There is a water trough at mile 4 with a picnic table for resting. Take the trail back to Figueroa and turn right back down the hill to the Pena trail the staging area

Hours and fees

The park is open year round from 8AM to sunset unless there has been a lot of rain, in which case it is open to hikers only. There are no vehicle fees at the back country staging area.

Horse of the Week- Revi

revi and coryHere’s a lovely little horse up for adoption through CANTER!
Revi was donated to CANTER in 2011 with a condylar fracture and very underweight.

Her racing connections chose not to surgically repair the leg to give her a better chance at a sound productive life, so CANTER stepped up and financed the surgery, aftercare and rehab.

Today Revi is a happy, healthy and sound little girl.
She is 7 years old and about 15.2 with a petite build and sweet personality,  She has training in jumping and dressage but she happiest on the trails so we are looking for a trail home for her.  She may also be a very nice endurance prospect. She prefers to live in pasture but has also lived in a stall.

Here is REVI under saddle.

Revi is located in PASO ROBLES. Read more about her on her listings page on CANTER’s website.
Contact: Ali canterca@canterusa.org or 408-313-1965

The challenges and joys of riding

Horses teach us so much. Confidence, patience, integrity, compassion, the desire to keep trying until we reach our goals. Especially when things don’t go exactly as we planned them!

Still, through all the trials and challenges of having horses we know they will be there for us. I came across this video and it spoke to me about many things, especially the joys of having a horse here in Silicon Valley where I need a break from my hi-tech shuffle. My horse distracts me from all that because she keeps me on my toes!
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Can I build a horse barn on my property in Saratoga?

Horse BarnQ. We are looking at horse property in Saratoga, Ca. What are the regulations about building a horse barn in Saratoga?

A. The zoning regulations for your specific location will need to be investigated, but in Santa Clara County a shelter for livestock–including horses–should be located at least 100 feet from any well or established watercourse.
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