How to Keep Your Horse Hydrated During Summer
Cameron Jensen - Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Did you know the average horse can drink between 40 and 90 litres of water a day during hot and humid conditions? Keeping your horse hydrated is critical during Summer, especially following intense exercise. In this article, we explain how to keep your horse hydrated.
Horses can lose up to 10 litres of sweat an hour in Summer. If not kept hydrated, this loss of water and electrolytes can lead to health problems, such as dehydration, tying up and colic. However, sweating is not the only sign of dehydration.
There are three quick tests you can do if you suspect your horse is dehydrated, including:
- Capillary refill – Use a moderate finger pressure on your horse’s gum and watch how long it takes to refill. A dehydrated horse will have dry gums and a capillary refill time of more than three seconds.
- Skin pinch – Using your thumb and forefinger, gently pinch a section of flesh on your horse’s neck. A dehydrated horse’s skin will remain tented for more than three seconds, rather than return to place instantly.
- Urine check – Just like humans, more concentrated urine that’s darker in colour and more pungent in smell can indicate dehydration.
Unlimited access to water
Your horse should have unlimited access to fresh, clean water at all times. Horses should be offered water before and after exercise, and when travelling. At shows, you may need to add a sweetener to the water to encourage your horse to drink or you may opt to bring a supply of water from home.
Replace lost electrolytes
During moderate to high intensity exercise, your horse will lose the vital minerals contained in sweat. If they’ve sweated profusely, you may need to feed an electrolyte replacer. Remember, electrolytes should only be given following sweating; any given prior will simply be excreted in urine.
Cool down after exercise
Cool your horse down with a cold water rinse following intense exercise. However, be sure to scrape off any excess water, otherwise heat will remain trapped and hosing will have the opposite effect. Simply cold water hose, scrape it off and repeat again if your horse sweated profusely.
Provide shade or shelter
Wherever your horse is – in the paddock or at a show – they should be able to rest in the shade or under a shelter to avoid the sun’s heat. Trees naturally provide the coolest environment out of the sun, but a man-made shelter will also suffice.
Feed white or pink Himalayan salt
Your horse should have access to a salt block. If you have any concerns about hanging a salt block in your horse’s paddock and stall, you can add 25g of salt to their daily feed. Sodium and chloride are the two minerals in salt which horses actively seek out.
What else do you do to keep your horse hydrated during Summer?
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