There seems to be nothing as fun as a horse barn on a summer day. School is out, horse shows are abundant, and the weather is warm and sunny (typically). Yet when your horse stops drinking, the fun suddenly stops.

 A horse’s water requirements can double if working during the summer months. Horses drink more water due to the increased temperature and humidity. A horse will need even more water if he/she is frequently being worked.

Horses need a lot of water

Horses need a lot of water

 Dehydration can be extremely harmful to horses. If your horse has not consumed water within two days, consult your veterinarian. “After three to four days, the horse’s organs will begin to shut down, which can result in irreversible (organ and tissue) damage,” says equine nutritionist, Kristen Janicki.

 Now, horses are still able to intake water without drinking. Pasture grass has high levels of moisture.  Yet dry feed, like hay, has low moisture levels and require the horses to drink. Therefore, it can be slightly more concerning when horses do not drink water when consuming dry feed, opposed to pasture grass.

 To encourage horses to drink, always provide clean, fresh water. Water buckets and troughs must be scrubbed as well. If the buckets/troughs have any odd smells, your horse might not drink from them.  

 Owners need to be aware of the increased water intake of their horses and either check the horse’s water buckets multiple times a day or provide the horse with additional water through extra water buckets or troughs.

Soaking Hay prior to feeding

Soaking hay prior to feeding

Providing free-choice salt or salt supplements may also encourage your horse to drink. In addition, soaking hay and feed cubes prior to feeding can also help increase your horse’s hydration.  Before making any changes to your horse’s diet, it is always important to consult your vet. They can provide you with suggestions that cater to your individual horse.

 By Anna Hellman


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