News from Malta
The Sun-neigh Times!
From your sun-baked correspondent in Malta, July 2009 – republished on new site recently
As temperatures in England at the end of June hit the unusual high of 32oC, here in Malta we were struggling to cope with 35/36oC. I was therefore relieved to see that the forecast for mid July predicted cooler weather….32oC! August usually brings a week of 37/38C with UV indexes of 10 or 11 which means, unless absolutely essential, a complete halt to outdoor activities throughout most of the day.
When it comes to keeping horses in Malta, one has to adapt to a completely different timetable in Summer by comparison to our Winter. In summer, horses are fed early in the morning; Any morning riding or training is just about bearable until 10am and this is usually followed by a shower for the horse to wash off the inevitable sweat. After drying (which is pretty fast in our Summer), horses are given the opportunity to relax in a shaded paddock or, if insufficient shade is available, are stabled. In late afternoon, they may be turned out again as the sun becomes tolerable.
Use of a sun block is a must on horses with light-coloured areas especially their muzzle, unless one has a fly mask that incorporates a nose piece in UV-reflecting material. The evenings and nights are usually pleasant (although may be humid and sticky), so horses invariably enjoy summer nights in the paddocks.
With summer come the flies! Using fly sprays is in vain, the persistent creatures do not twitch even when spraying directly on them! Fly sheets are not practical during the hot part of the day. Even the lightest of sheets makes the horse sweat and if prone to sweet itch, it’s a tough challenge!
Fortunately, every situation has its plus side and on Summer evenings, hacks in Malta are usually so laid-back and relaxing that it makes it all worthwhile. Unlike UK, we don’t have the stretches of open countryside or rolling hills to give our horses a good gallop, but if you find an amenable farmer there are a few fields around in which you and your horse can have great time with a good canter.