Water makes up approximately 70 percent of an adult horse’s body, or 700 pounds in an average 1,000-pound equine. Without question, then, proper water intake is vital to a horse’s health.
Though the average horse consumes between five and 20 gallons of water per day, water intake can vary with factors such as weather and exercise. Combine the heat and humidity of the summer with the physical demands of roping practice or conditioning, and you’ve got one thirsty horse.
Keep your equine athlete hydrated and healthy this summer with tips from APHA Corporate Sponsor Farnam:
- Encourage drinking habits by providing clean, cool and fresh water at all times.
- Allow at-will salt intake with easy-access to salt in either a loose or block form.
- Add salt to feed to ensure a boost in salt intake, balance minerals and encourage increased drinking.
- Rehydrate after exercise, first with salted water and later with cool, plain water. To salt your water, simply add one ounce of table salt per five gallons of water.
- Offer unlimited tepid water to hot, thirsty horses after exercise, says Hal Schott D.V.M., Ph.D, Dipl. ACVIM, a professor in the Large Animal Clinical Sciences Department at Michigan State University.
“We did a study that found there is no need to limit the first drink (after exercise),” Schott said. “We found that the initial drink is pretty much just three to five gallons, because the horse needs a few minutes for that water to empty out of the stomach. The good thing about horses is that they won’t overdrink.”
Additional studies at Michigan State University determined that most horses voluntarily drink more within the first hour after exercising if the water is about 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Prepare for road trips by introducing salted or flavored water at home.
- Offer both flavored and plain water when away from home to give your horse a choice in taste and encourage a healthy intake.
Step up your care
The high-energy demands of speed events like racing, barrels, roping, sorting and shooting mean your Paint sweats more and requires more vigilant management to ensure his good health in the heat.
Get expert veterinarian advice from racing professionals to keep your horse cool and safe with Too Hot to Trot.
And check out the June 2014 issue of the Paint Horse Journal for a special article about salt intake and supplementation.
The American Paint Horse Association is the world’s second-largest international equine breed association, registering more than a million horses in 59 nations and territories since it was founded. APHA creates and maintains programs that increase the value of American Paint Horses and enriches members’ experiences with their horses.