Hydration: How much is enough?
Just like humans, your horse needs a lot of water to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In fact, it’s the most essential nutrient your horse can get to stay healthy and strong. Water can be lost through several things like waste elimination, sweating, and breathing, so it’s important that your horse gets enough water each day to make up for this. The recommended amount ranges by horse age, breed and health, but the normal rule of thumb is that the horse should consume one gallon of water per 100 pounds of body weight.
As a horse owner there are several things you can do to ensure your horse is staying properly hydrated.
Monitor your horse’s drinking habits – If you notice your horse is drinking less water, ask yourself why this might be. Does he have an unlimited supply of fresh and clean water to drink from? Some horses are bothered by changing temperatures because it also changes the temperature of their water. This is especially common in the winter months because the water can turn too cold and cause discomfort in their stomach after they digest it.
How do you fix this? Although warming the water might increase your horse’s consumption, take caution when using electronic heating implements – these can shock your horse as it drinks. Perhaps the best solution is to keep your horse in its horse stall for a couple days while letting it drink out of a bucket. Then, you can see how much water your horse is actually consuming. Just be sure to check it throughout the day.
Water Quality – Has the taste or quality of your horse’s water changed? This is especially common while traveling, and can also be caused by things like salts, fertilizers, and minerals. Many horses are sensitive to taste variations and may stop drinking as a result. To remedy this, many horse owners put drink mixes or Kool Aid in the water so it always tastes similar. Also, make sure your horse isn’t drinking from a stagnant water source.
Environment – Sometimes horses may get distracted by what’s going on around them. If this happens to your horse, make sure his water source is away from others where he won’t be disturbed by everything going on around him.