British Dressage Hot Weather Guidance

  • Written By: British Dressage
  • Published: Wed, 13 Jul 2022 12:59

Horse Welfare always remains the paramount consideration for British Dressage, and with the current forecast for unusually high temperatures over the coming days it is essential that we plan and prepare in advance for this.


It is vitally important that a constant supply of clean and fresh water is available at all times, as this plays a key role in the horse’s hydration and digestive system, as well as providing the opportunity to cool down horses after competing.

If horses do not have sufficient access to water, it can lead to other conditions as a result of dehydration and increase the risk of colic. Remember to replace and replenish water buckets / containers with fresh water regularly and ensure that additional buckets are available to fill with fresh water supplied from taps / hoses, as required.


  • Plan your journey and travel as early or as late as possible to avoid the hottest part of the day.
  • Carry plenty of water with you to be prepared for a breakdown or unexpected traffic delays.
  • Where safe to do so, open windows, vents to maximise air flow throughout.
  • Allow sufficient time on arrival to cool your horse down before riding / warming up for competition.


  • Venues must provide plenty of fresh water on site, and clearly signpost the available water points on arrival.
  • Competition times should be planned for early starts and to aim to finish by lunchtime, where possible, to avoid the hottest part of the day.
  • Good, ventilated indoor arenas can offer a more comfortable environment for horses during the main bulk of the day.
  • Day stabling should be available, where possible, to provide shade if riding multiple tests or to enable competitors to delay travel to later in the day.

Exercise / Competition

  • Minimise warm up times and take more breaks than usual.
  • Ensure that water is available after competition and offer to your horse, as it doesn’t increase the risk of colic.

Cooling Down

  • Remove tack quickly after exercise / competition.
  • Sponge your horse down or pour continuous water all over the horse’s body, specifically in the rump and shoulder areas.
  • Repeat this process a few times to bring back your horse temperature to normal.
  • Best practice is not to scrape off excess water; however, doing this will not cause the water temperature to rise
  • Walk your horse lightly while cooling to aid circulation and help cool down effectively.
  • Find a shaded area / stabling for your horse that will reduce aggravation from flies.

Identifying a hot horse

There are several reliable indicators that a horse is very hot:

  • Excessive sweating – horse completely covered in sweat and/or sweat running
  • Horse feels very hot to touch
  • Ataxia (unsteadiness) – especially when stopping after exercise
  • Blowing very hard (deep and laboured breathing)
  • Panting (fast and shallow breathing)
  • Prominent blood vessels in the skin
  • Horse may show little reaction to people or environment
  • Horse may appear distressed or showing signs of discomfort.

If you have any concerns or spot any notable changes in your horse’s regular behaviour, please contact your local vet immediately.

Rule Amend - to rule 73

In view of the unusually high temperatures the Judges Committee has agreed to relax the mandatory rule regarding jackets at Area Festivals, Regionals, and any other Championship where the current rule would be applicable. This applies to all British Dressage competitions where torrid weather conditions prevail, with immediate effect, up to 31 August 2022. 

Useful links

  • The British Horse Society have issued some summer weather guidance which can be accessed via this link.
  • World Horse Welfare have also issued some competition guidelines to help those competing in the hotter weather, view here.
  • Equine practical travel guidelines