Keeping your horses and ponies hydrated

Water is essential for life and aids with digestion, controlling body temperature and helps with joint lubrication. It is extremely easy to think that staying hydrated is only important during summer, but this is not the case. It is important for horses to stay hydrated all year round.

During the hotter months water is lost faster through sweating and will need replenishing. Below are some helpful top tips to keep your horse hydrated:

1) Fresh, clean water – sounds simple but drinking is the quickest way to hydrate. If your horse or pony lives out, make sure their water buckets are cleaned regularly. If your horse lives in a herd, position a few water stations around the field so your equines aren’t competing for water if there is any bullying.

If your horse comes in to a stable, again, ensure their water supply is clean. If you have a water drinker, make sure you check they are working efficiently. It can be hard to monitor how much your horse or pony is drinking from a drinker compared to a bucket so check regularly for signs of dehydration.

2) Travelling – horsebox time or competing is an energetic or stressful time for horses. Some equines are known to refuse a drink. Bring water from your yard that is ‘familiar’ to your horse or pony in a clean container. Sometimes water can taste strange at different places.

3) Mashes – There are a lot of fibre mashes on the market that are soaked and generally absorb up to two or three times their own weight with water. You can also make these mashes extra sloppy for a super easy way to increase fluid intake.

4) Salt licks – Salts are lost through sweating and need to be replenished. They also stimulate thirst and after your horse or pony has used their salt lick, they will crave a drink. If you are training at a high level, feeding an electrolyte will help in making sure essential minerals are replenished.

5) Washing off – Particularly during the summer, after intense exercise your equine could be very sweaty. To keep them hydrated and cope with the heat, it is a good idea to wash them off as soon as possible. Cover them in cool water with a bucket and sponge or horse pipe. Your horse will feel a lot better.

6) Soaked hay – Horses take in moisture when they eat grass because it holds up to 60% water. If your horse is stabled in the evening consider soaking their hay/forage supply as this will increase their fluid intake.

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