5 Tips For Equine Hydration & Water Management
The dog days of summer have arrived. You've caught some rays, hit the pool, planned some summer getaways and had a few cookouts, but have you made a hydration plan for your horse? With temperatures on the rise, it's crucial that you monitor the 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? Add in high temperature and humidity and a horse at work can drink twice as much in the summer. That's a lot of water! So how can you get your horse to drink more?
Keep Your Horse Hydrated
Clean and available water
Make sure your horse has easy access to water at all times. He shouldn't have to go searching to find a clean water source. Provide your horse with squeaky clean water. Tipped over, leaky, funky smelling water buckets aren't appealing to drink from. If you wouldn't want to drink the water chances are your horse wouldn't want it either. Develop a weekly water bucket and trough cleaning schedule.
Offer electrolytes and salt blocks to your horses to stimulate their thirst. Like 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
Get extra water into your horse through their food. Soak 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. Adding water to your horse's feed or bran to create a mash is another excellent way to up their water intake.
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. These insulators work like a koozie cup on a soda can and surround the bucket keeping cool water cool.
Spice it up
Have a picky drinker on the road? 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. Test this out prior to hitting the road to make sure you have a flavor combo your horse likes.
Horse Dehydration Test
Still not sure if your horse has drunk 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, use the tips above to get more water in him.
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