Given the number of secondary issues with which horses can suffer due to dehydration, finding inventive ways to persuade horses to increase their water intake is essential. Here are some tips that may help:
- Clean out buckets and tanks regularly to ensure your horse always has access to fresh, clean water.
- When travelling, bring water from home if possible. Providing water that your horse is familiar with may persuade them to drink more.
- Many horses will not drink cold water. Therefore, on particularly chilly days and nights, warming their water may encourage further intake.
- Add something tasty to the water. This might be apple juice, molasses, or sugar beet water. Bear in mind, that like us, where some horses will preferentially choose a sweet taste, others will like salty tastes. Therefore, some horses may prefer having electrolytes, or a combination of Lo salt and normal table salt added to the water. Remember, if you do add anything to your horse’s water, it is essential that a bucket of clean, unflavoured water is provided alongside.
- Encourage them to bob for apples. Cut up safely sized chunks and put them into the water bucket. If your horse is fond of apples as a snack, this should encourage them to drink whilst figuring out how to obtain their treat.
- Turn all their hard feeds into incredibly sloppy mashes and offer soaked or wet hay. Whilst this is an insufficient method to provide complete hydration, combined with other measures, it can help to increase water intake.
If, despite huge effort, your horse will still not consume adequate volumes of water, it is very important to look out for any of the complications associated with dehydration. These may include dullness and depression, colic, or ‘tying-up’. If you are concerned that your horse is suffering from any of these conditions, please contact the clinic immediately.