Transitional seasons can be tricky when it comes to managing horses; not the least of which is monitoring water consumption of your horse to avoid dehydration and its associated complications.
Did you know the average 1,000 pound horse at rest drinks 8 to 10 gallons of water a day? In the summer they can drink twice as
much, but in the winter they may not consume enough. So how can you get your horse to drink more? This blog will cover how to keep your equine friends hydrated during the summer and winter months.
How to Keep Your Horse Hydrated:
Clean and Available Water
Make sure your horse has easy access to water at all times. They shouldn't have to go searching to find a clean water source. Also, you should always provide them with squeaky clean water. Tipped over, leaky, funky smelling water buckets aren't appealing. If you wouldn't want to drink the water then chances are your horse wouldn't want it either.
Offer electrolytes and salt blocks to your horses to stimulate their thirst. Similar to humans, horses use sweating as a way to cool off during periods of warm weather and while exercising. When a horse sweats, not only is water lost, but important electrolytes like sodium, chloride and potassium are lost.
If too many electrolytes are lost serious problems like fatigue, muscle cramps and colic can occur. Electrolytes can be given to your horse in a variety of ways. You can add water and administer via dosing syringe, add the electrolytes to your horse's feed or add the electrolytes to their water. Each way works equally as well, just figure out what your horse prefers to ensure they are consuming the added electrolytes.
Soak It And Mash It In Feed
Another way to get extra water into your horse is through their food. You can achieve this by soaking your hay flakes or cubes prior to feeding. One flake of wet hay can absorb 1-2 gallons of water. This can have a huge impact on your horse's water consumption.
Keep Their Water Cool
You may have thought about getting insulated water buckets for your horse in the winter time to keep water from freezing, but did you know they can also help keep your horse's water cool in the summer? Horses prefer cool water in the heat, and some of them may even prefer cool water in the winter. Insulators are comparable to a koozie cup on a soda can and surround the bucket keeping cool water cool in summer and thawed in winter.
Spice It Up
Have a picky drinker on the road? You can flavor the water with Kool-Aid, peppermint oil or apple juice. The additional flavor will keep your horse interested in what otherwise could be strange water. However, testing this out prior to hitting the road to make sure you have a flavor combo your horse likes is highly suggested.
If you are still not sure if your horse has consumed enough water, use the pinch test as a quick and easy way to tell if your horse is hydrated. Pinch a bit of skin at the point of your horse's neck and release it. Count the seconds until the skin lies flat. If it flattens back in place in less than a second, no worries, your horse is hydrated. If it takes more than three seconds to flatten your horse is dehydrated, so use the tips above to get more water in him.
Always remember that hydration is the key to life for all living things. You should not take this lightly. If you’re having difficulty hydrating your horse even after trying the tips above, you should contact your vet.