It is not often talked about, but the amount of water a horse drinks is very important to ensure animal well-being and performance. In the hot days of summer our horses need to stay hydrated just like we do! So, what can you do as a horse owner to ensure that your horses get enough to drink each day?
Getting enough water into your horse is not always easy given that the animal’s water needs can vary greatly according to diet, temperature and amount of exercise.
The main thing to think about is how you are providing water to your horse. Our modern management of horses is quite a bit different these days from what a horse would do naturally which is to drink from ponds and streams. Several people use automatic water systems because they are convenient for the horse owner. But, are they appealing to the horse? Not really.
Horses have been studied and the scientific literature says that horses prefer to drink out of a bucket rather than an automatic waterer, almost every time. If you water with a bucket it is critical that you keep the bucket clean, change the water frequently, remove hay and feed that has accumulated and don’t let the bucket run dry.
Kris Hiney, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension equine specialist says that the type of waterer will make a difference. In a study of horses never exposed to automatic waterers the animals preferred float-valve waterers compared to push valves. With push-valve waterers, a horse must apply some force from its muzzle against the valve.
Push valve waterers have the effect of somewhat startling the horse because of the noise of water refilling the reservoir. A larger reservoir does seem to encourage more water consumption.
Remember that horses also drink when they eat, so it is important to offer water right at their food source. Some horses prefer to dip their hay in water as they are eating it. This is seen as normal behavior and while it may be messy it seems to help the horses chew their hay. Presoaking hay can help a horse that is experiencing dental problems.
Horses seem to prefer their water to be cooler than lukewarm temperature when it is hot out as they are trying to regulate their body temperature, which is called thermoregulation. That means about 50 degrees F is good to shoot for.
Awareness of these simple strategies may help your horses to consume the water they need. And get out there and enjoy what is left of summer weather!
Visit www.hubbardlife.com to learn more about horse tips and the high quality feed products available from Hubbard Life.
Posted on 8/24/2015 by Amy Brown | Category: Equine
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