Especially with summer approaching, it’s even more important to ensure that your horse remains hydrated and healthy. You’ll have to closely monitor how much water your horse consumes water so you can make sure that it doesn’t get dehydrated.
Here are a few tips to help you out:
1. Provide Easy Access to Clean Water
The first and most important step is to ensure that your horse can easily access a water source at all times. It’s also important to make sure that the water your horse is consuming is clean. If the water provided to them has algae, mud, or other waste matter, your horse will most likely not drink it. A good rule of thumb is to provide water that you too would want to drink.
In addition to refilling the trough as needed, you should also have a weekly trough cleaning session. This is to prevent mildew and grime from forming in the trough. You can scrub it thoroughly with a hard-bristled long brush.
2. Provide Electrolytes
During summer or physical exertion, horses cool themselves off through sweating. When they sweat, they not only lose water but also important electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and chloride. When they lose too many electrolytes, they could experience issues such as muscle cramps, fatigue, and colic. That’s why is important for working horses to restore the lost minerals after workouts.
There are products that can be orally administered to help restore those minerals and provide electrolytes. Some supplements can be added to feed or water, others are pastes that can be administered to the back of the tongue. Pastes, such as Restore Paste, are helpful for quick administration. They get absorbed into the system much quicker since they are administered directly on the tongue as opposed to being digested through feed or water.
3. Make Adjustments to Water Consumption Based on Diet
Your horse’s diet can have an impact on its water consumption. It’s important to make sure your horse has steady access to a clean water supply. If your horse consumes plenty of fresh foods like vegetation or grass, it might not drink as much water. That’s because this diet supplies a significant amount of water.
If, however, your horse primarily feeds on dry food like hay and grain, it will need a lot more water to remain hydrated. So you need to constantly check for water levels to ensure that it is drinking enough. You can also soak the hay or grain in water so your horse can get the water it requires as it eats. You’ll need to soak the food for about 10 to 15 minutes so it absorbs the water.
4. Providing Salt
The equine diet should consist of at least 1-2 ounces of salt per day to suffice their requirement of sodium and chloride. If they are under difficult and tiring situations, their salt intake will increase due to sweating.
The most common way to add extra salt to your horse’s diet is to put a salt block in their stalls or pastures. We recommended starting with plain white salt blocks. Don’t start with a mineralized block by itself because the minerals often have a bitter taste which might be off-putting for your horse and lessen the amount of salt consumed.
Another good method to maintain salt intake is to offer loose salt. Loose salt can be fed freely; horses will limit consumption to necessary quantities. Supplements are also available to add more salt to your horse’s diet, but make sure you consult a veterinarian before you rely on a supplement alone.
When you’re providing salt to your horse, it’s crucial that you closely monitor the water levels to determine whether it is drinking or not. Some horses may still refuse to drink, even when they’re consuming sufficient sodium. This is dangerous because it could lead to your horse getting dehydrated faster.
5. Check for Water Temperature
If you want to maintain proper horse hydration, you need to check the water temperature. The preferred temperature for water is between 45-65 degrees Fahrenheit. During the summers, the water you provide may get hot. It helps to change the standing water out with cool water to ensure that your horse drinks enough.
During the winter months, you can get insulated water buckets, which help keep the water from freezing. These buckets can also keep the water cool during summers, acting as a koozie cup. So if you don’t have time to regularly change out your horse’s water, they can be a very good investment.
6. Add Some Flavor
In spite of all of the efforts you’re making, some horses may still refuse to drink the required amount of water because they are picky drinkers. If you’re dealing with a picky drinker, you can add some flavor to the water. Apple juice, Gatorade, and peppermint oil are some excellent options for adding some flavor to your horse’s water.
It’s important, however, to experiment with different flavors because not all horses may share the same taste in additional flavoring. Find out what your horse likes and then use the flavor combo that seems to get them drinking the most. When buying flavoring to try to encourage your horse to drink, make sure they are equine friendly.
7. Maintain Horse Hydration during Long Rides
If you’re taking your horse out on a long ride, you will need to plan ahead to ensure that it doesn’t get dehydrated along the way. Plan your ride in an area where fresh, flowing water is easily accessible. You might be able to find trails near creeks, rivers, and springs.
You should also provide grazing breaks, during which your horse can feed on fresh grass to stay hydrated. Once horses are finished with their work and are hot and sweaty, they need to be cooled down before being offered water. If you give an excessive amount of water too quickly to a horse that has exerted a large amount of energy and sweat, it can cause equine laminitis (equine flounder) or life-threatening colic.
These are seven easy but effective tips that can help you maintain proper horse hydration. If you’re still unsure that your horse is properly hydrated, you can conduct a pinch test to check for dehydration. Pinch the skin on your horse’s neck and see how long it takes for the skin to lie flat. If it takes longer than a few seconds for the skin to lie flat, it’s a sign that your horse is dehydrated. If you have any more questions about horse hydration, feel free to talk to us!