how hot is too hot for horse racing

High heat can be a major concern for racehorses as it can lead to dehydration, heat stress, and other health problems. The effects of heat on a horse can vary depending on the individual animal’s age, size, and level of conditioning. However, a general rule of the temperature goes above 95 degrees fahrenheit, it is considered too hot for horse to race and other strenuous activities. High humidity levels can also make it feel hotter for the horse, increasing the risk of heat-related problems. It is important to monitor the weather conditions closely and to take precautions to keep the participants safe in hot weather.

Heat Stroke Symptoms in Equines

Heat stroke is a serious condition that can occur when a horse’s body temperature rises to dangerous levels. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including exposure to high temperatures, prolonged exercise, or dehydration. Symptoms of heat stroke in equines include:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Dilated pupils
  • Bright or dark red gums
  • Lethargy
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Factors Affecting a Horse’s Heat Tolerance

The question of how hot is too hot for horse racing is a complex one, as there are several factors that can affect a horse’s tolerance to heat.


  • Some breeds, such as Arabians and Thoroughbreds, are more heat-tolerant than others.
  • This is because they have evolved to live in hot climates and have a number of adaptations that help them to cope with heat, such as a lower metabolic rate and a larger surface area to volume ratio, which helps them to dissipate heat.


  • Young horses are more susceptible to heat stress than older horses.
  • This is because their bodies are still developing and they do not have the same level of experience in coping with heat.


  • Fit horses are more heat-tolerant than unfit horses.
  • This is because their bodies are better able to handle the physiological demands of racing in hot weather.


  • Horses that are acclimatized to heat are more heat-tolerant than horses that are not.
  • Acclimatization involves exposing a horse to gradually increasing temperatures over a period of time.
  • This allows the horse’s body to adapt to the heat and to develop the necessary adaptations to cope with it.


  • The environment can also affect a horse’s heat tolerance.
  • Horses that are racing in hot, humid weather are more likely to experience heat stress than horses that are racing in cool, dry weather.
  • This is because humidity makes it more difficult for horses to sweat and cool down.
Temperature (°F)Relative Humidity (%)Heat Index (°F)

The table above shows the heat index for different temperatures and relative humidity levels.

The heat index is a measure of how hot it feels to the human body, and it takes into account both temperature and humidity.

As you can see from the table, even moderate temperatures can feel very hot when the humidity is high.

This is important to remember when considering how hot is too hot for horse racing.

It is generally recommended that horse racing should not be held when the heat index is above 105°F.

However, this is just a general guideline, and the decision of whether or not to hold a race should be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all of the factors discussed above.

Cooling Strategies for Racetracks

As summer temperatures soar, it’s crucial to ensure the well-being of racehorses by implementing effective cooling strategies. Extreme heat can pose significant health risks for these animals, including heat stress, dehydration, and heat stroke. Racetracks must take proactive measures to mitigate the effects of high temperatures and provide a safe racing environment.

Cooling Techniques

1. Watering Stations:
– Provide ample water stations throughout the track to encourage horses to stay hydrated.
– Add electrolytes to water to replenish lost minerals and aid in rehydration.

2. Cooling Equipment:
– Install misting fans or sprinklers to create a cooling mist around the track.
– Use cooling blankets or ice packs on horses to reduce their core body temperature.

3. Track Conditions:
– Water the track to keep it moist and reduce surface temperature.
– Choose racing times that avoid the hottest hours of the day.

Monitoring and Management

  • Establish clear temperature limits for racing, such as 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius) or higher.
  • Monitor horses closely for signs of heat stress, including rapid breathing, increased sweating, and lethargy.
  • Have cooling protocols in place for horses showing signs of overheating, such as moving them to a shaded area and applying cooling measures.
  • Adjust racing schedules or cancel races if temperatures exceed safe limits.

Additional Considerations

TemperatureRelative HumidityRisk Level
80-90 °F (27-32 °C)60-80%Low
90-95 °F (32-35 °C)80-90%Moderate
95-100 °F (35-38 °C)90% or higherHigh
100 °F (38 °C) or higherAny humidityExtreme

This table provides a general guide to the risk level associated with different temperature and humidity combinations. Racetracks should use this information to inform their cooling strategies.

The Role of Track Veterinarians in Monitoring Heat

Track veterinarians play a crucial role in ensuring the well-being of horses during races, especially in hot weather. They monitor various factors to assess heat stress and intervene when necessary.

  • Body Temperature: Veterinarians use rectal thermometers to measure a horse’s core body temperature. A temperature above 106°F (41.1°C) is considered elevated.
  • Dehydration: Veterinarians check for signs of dehydration, such as dry gums, sunken eyes, and decreased skin elasticity. They may administer intravenous fluids if necessary.
  • Heart and Respiratory Rates: They monitor a horse’s heart and respiratory rates, which increase with heat stress. A rapid pulse or breathing can indicate overheating.
  • Behavior: Veterinarians observe horses for signs of distress, such as panting, sweating excessively, or exhibiting lethargy.

Intervention Measures

When a horse shows signs of overheating, veterinarians take immediate action:

  1. Cooling: They douse the horse with cold water, ice down its head and legs, and place it in a shaded area.
  2. Electrolyte Replenishment: Veterinarians provide electrolytes via oral or intravenous solutions to prevent dehydration.
  3. Rest: They allow the horse to rest and cool down before it continues racing or training.

Table: Temperature Thresholds for Race Cancelation

Some tracks have established temperature thresholds at which races may be canceled to protect horses from heat stress:

Temperature (°F)Action
100-105Races postponed or shortened
105-110Races canceled
Above 110All racing activities suspended

And that’s it for our quick dive into the world of equine temperature regulation and how it affects horse racing. Thanks for sticking with us and learning more about the fascinating physiology of these magnificent animals. We hope this article has shed some light on the complexities of keeping horses safe and comfortable during races. If you have any more questions, be sure to check out our website or give us a shout on social media. Thanks again for reading, and we’ll catch you next time!