Rider Danielle Poulsen Shares Her Tricks for Beating the Summer Heat

Across the country, temps and humidity are OFF THE CHARTS. Are you still able to get in a daily ride? What about horse shows? What do you do if it's 95 degrees and your hunter derby or dressage test is scheduled for noon? Ugh! We called on Fleeceworks riders Danielle Paulson and Sara K. Murphy to hear how they make the most of the day in high heat at Sara's Overlook Farm in Berryville, Virginia.

Fleeceworks: What's your best strategy for keeping your horses going in the heat?
Danielle: We start early! On hot days, we are in the barn by 5 a.m. and aim to be finished with all of the riding by 11 a.m.
Fleeceworks: Woah! That is early! What time do you go to bed?
Danielle: We head to bed pretty early and are passed out by 9:30-10:00 p.m.
Fleeceworks: When you look at the string of horses you have in training, how do you decide who gets ridden in the early morning and who can wait untill a little bit later?

Danielle Paulson
Danielle: We try to ride the upper level horses and any that need to work longer or harder first. We are comfortable doing the younger ones and the lower level horses a bit later in the morning, since they don't usually need to work more than 30 minutes and the work isn't as demanding physically.
Fleeceworks: What does the rest of a really hot day look like in the barn?
Danielle: We like to finish riding and lunch chores by 1 pm. We take a break in the hottest part of the day and do evening barn chores later. If we have more horses that need to be ridden, we save that for the late evening.
Fleeceworks: Are they any redeeming moments to "doing horses" on hot summer days?
Danielle: Ha! It is nice to have the barn quiet for a few hours in the afternoon and know that the horses are happily munching hay with the fans blowing. (Check out that pic, they do look pretty content).
Fleeceworks: What other stable habits do you keep when it's really hot?
Danielle: We do turn the horses out really late, sometimes not until 7 or 8 p.m. when the sun starts to go down.
Fleeceworks: In that heat, and with all of the physical activity, you need to be careful about your own health and hydration as well as the horses. How do you manage that?
Danielle: Well, on hot days you hardly ever want to eat anything since the humidity is out of this world. We are REALLY into popsicles and watermelon. That's one of those nice little things that keeps us going and helps us stay hydrated. Sara isn’t as into the popsicles. Wink.
Fleeceworks: Any other advice for good summer horsemanship?
Danielle: Yes! One thing that Sara is adamant about is sunscreen--for both us and the horses! It's huge for her and we've all learned from her how important it is to apply several times a day. She sets the example by applying it right before she rides or teaches, and we do apply it to our horses pink noses at least 3x a day. 
Fleeceworks: Thank you Danielle!
Danielle rides in a variety of Fleeceworks pads, including the Easy Care Bamboo eventing trifecta. Quilted, easy care bamboo pads for dressage, cross country and stadium jumping. ($69)
Danielle also rides in a Sheepskin Perfect Balance Halfpad with a rolled edge ($244). You can check that out here. Danielle uses front memory foam inserts to get the perfect fit. 
You can follow Danielle on Instagram @Danielle.Poulsen and follow us @fleeceworks

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  • Elizabeth Howell