Hydration for Horse Health

 Encourage your horse to rehydrate after exercise by offering salted water as his first drink, followed by plain water a short while after. Journal photo
Encourage your horse to rehydrate after exercise by offering salted water as his first drink, followed by plain water a short while after. Journal photo

If you could snap your fingers and remove all the water from your horse’s body, there wouldn’t be a whole lot left. The average adult horse’s body contains approximately 70 percent water. In other words, there are roughly 700 pounds of water in the average 1,000-pound horse. This makes it obvious just how important it is that your horse has a consistent source of fresh, clean water to drink at all times.

So, how much water should your horse drink each day? That depends on a number of variables.

An average 1,000-pound horse can drink anywhere from five gallons a day to as much as 20 or more gallons. Just as with humans, weather is a big factor.

Expect your horse’s water consumption to increase when it’s hot and/or humid, even if he isn’t working. Add exercise to the equation, and your horse may drink considerably more, depending on the duration and intensity of his workout, and the weather conditions.

The horse’s diet also greatly influences his water intake. A horse whose only forage is hay will drink more water than a horse grazing good pasture.

“What your horse is eating has a lot to do with how much he’s drinking. The average horse on a predominately hay diet will drink much more water than a horse on summer pasture. Grass can be as much as 90 percent moisture, while hay may contain less than 10 percent,” says Dr. Hal Schott, a professor in the Large Animal Clinical Sciences Department at Michigan State University.

One common-sense way to determine if your horse is drinking enough water is to regularly check the appearance and consistency of his manure. If it’s hard and/or dry, you’ll want to take steps to encourage your horse to drink more.

Keep Him Drinking
Just because your horse has access to water doesn’t mean he won’t get dehydrated. His water source must be clean, cool and fresh; otherwise, he might not drink enough, even in hot weather.

Continue reading on America's Horse Daily about hydrating horses.




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