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Keeping Horses Hydrated

  Oct 09, 2018

Keeping Horses Hydrated

This may sound like a basic concept, one that is perhaps common knowledge, but it something worth mentioning considering the hot climate we live in.  Horses lose a lot of heat by sweating. They are very efficient at this.  On very hot days, and when performing, this ability will come in very useful. However, if fluids are not replaced, this loss can be deadly as well.

When horses sweat the fluid contains electrolytes, so not only does the lost water need to be replaced but the important electrolytes must also be supplemented.

Have water available at all times

Access to fresh, clean water is needed throughout the day.  Ensure the water troughs are cleaned daily to keep the water from tasting or smelling putrid.  Water must definitely not be restricted at competitions.  Some horses are reluctant to drink water they are not familiar with. If this is the case, take some water with you when travelling to competitions.  Sometimes flavouring the water with apple or mint encourages the horse to drink.

If there are many horses in one camp, more than one water trough should be available as some horses dominate others.  This may result in less dominant horses not to being able to get access to the water as often as they need.

Soak their food

If you find your horse is not drinking as much as he/she should, it may be beneficial to offer food with increased water content.  The cubes or hay flakes can be soaked in water before feeding. Alternatively, you can add water to the bran to make a mash. 

Keep the water, and your horse, cool

Horses prefer to drink cool water, so keep the water in the shade and also provide plenty of shade for your horse. This will help reduce sweating.  Cooling your horse off after exercise will also decrease sweating and water loss.

Salt licks & Electrolytes

Salt licks will encourage horses to drink more water.  Electrolytes are very important when replacing lost fluids and, as mentioned earlier, sweat also contains electrolytes that will be lost by the horse.  Electrolytes may be added to your horse’s feed or water.  Too many electrolytes being lost can contribute to muscle cramping, colic and fatigue.

Keeping Horses Hydrated

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