Winter causes so much stress for horse owners – not only the cold and ice, but making sure your horse gets enough to drink to stay properly hydrated. Some horses will eat snow, drink out of puddles and break through the ice in the water bucket. Some drink less and less and this can be of great concern.
Here are some tips to encouraging the slow drinker to stay hydrated:
Tip #1 – add warm water to the water bucket at meal time, from a kettle or hose if you have hot water at the barn.
Tip #2 – add something yummy to the water – syrup, molasses, apple juice, salt or even apple and carrot slices to make it more desirable.
Tip #3 – feed watered down bran mash (even tho many horsemen think it is not worth feeding, hydration is more important), beet pulp or soy hulls. Make it as soupy as they will eat. Make it warm if will get your horse to take in more fluids. Add treats like apples, carrots, anything.
Tip #4 – a little exercise. Horses will be more likely to drink after a bit of exercise – and if they like it warm then that is another great time during the day to add the hot water and let them drink as much as they like.
I believe it is an old wives tale that a horse drinking a lot of cold water at once will cause them to colic so I don’t really limit how much they take in during this weather as long as they will drink. What we do know for sure, is if they don’t get enough to drink it can lead to impaction. So get those horses drinking!