How important water is to your horse's health

A horse can live for weeks without food but only a few days without water. Dehydration, even mild dehydration can lead to problems of various seriousness, from colic, kidney damage and muscle function.

There are 3 super important areas you need to pay close attention to, and ensure your horse stays well hydrated.

The first check box is to ensure all horses have access to water at all times. Fresh, clean water. And enough water to meet their daily intake requirements should be consumed.

How much is enough?

In general, the requirement for intake is 1 gallon per 220lb body weight.

For example, if your horse is 1,000lb that is 5 gallons!

How much does a horse drink a day? Horses drink up to 5 gallons a day

However, a horse who is woking regularly and sweating, or with increase in outside temperatures, will of course require more. Sometimes this can be up to 3 to 4 times more water intake than a horse on maintenance.

The second area of focus is making sure your horses continue to drink when the temperature drops low. Surprisingly, many horses will not drink if the water is very cold. So, if it’s chilly in your neck of the woods keep that in mind. Most of the year this isn’t an issue, but in winter it can become a huge concern, and often overlooked. This is why many horses experience an impaction colic in the winter, because they don’t drink enough!

You can offer a bucket of warmed up water too if that is possible. However, if the horse only has access to a large trough, consider a livestock tank heating element. There are many options on the market. Therefore do your research, and follow the directions for set up. I always recommend inspecting those regularly to ensure they aren’t shorting out and shocking your horse. Yikes! But it happens… and he’ll definitely not drink then!

In summary, pay extra attention to your horse’s volume consumed each day in winter.

Even better, take notes of their daily consumption. Most water buckets have lines on the sides to easily measure the amount. Warm the water if possible, and/or soak their hay to guarantee they are drinking adequate water to keep things flowing.  

The third super important area of focus is to investigate your water quality! This is serious, and almost always overlooked. Yes, even if you have a drilled well! High levels of minerals, or salts may cause imbalances in your horse, or simply taste bad, resulting in low intake. Toxins such as pesticides, heavy metals or other chemicals like fertilizer runoff can all leach into the water system.

Is your horse's water quality safe?
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) is the single most important test to run

Get your water tested. The single most reliable indicator of water quality is total dissolved salts (TDS). Hop on Google and do a search for local business, the county, university or hobbyist organizations that do water testing. If you have questions reading the results, ask who did the testing if they have an analyst consultation you can buy or again, use trusty Google 🙂

Ok that is it for today! My top 3 important areas of focus on water and how it affects your horse’s health.

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Thank you for reading! Happy Horsey-Days,

Erica