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Does Your Horse Have a Consuming Downside? – Flagstaff Enterprise Information

Ensuring your horse always has access to clean, fresh water is paramount – but what else can you do?

Are you one of the many horse owners who worries about your horse lacking hydration during the winter months? Keeping your horse hydrated is crucial, especially during the cold spells that can make drinking uncomfortable and unappealing to your equine pals. Not drinking enough can lead to serious issues like dehydration and impaction – a blockage in your horse’s intestine, caused usually by masses of feed or sand/dirt. In short, not having enough water reduces the moisture in your horse’s gut that would typically assist in digesting these things smoothly.

There are a lot of ways to circumvent crises like impaction colic and dehydration. Ensuring your horse always has access to clean, fresh water is paramount – but what else can you do?

Monitor Water Intake

This can be difficult in places where horses’ primary water intake happens through automated watering systems. If I am worried about water consumption, I will make sure I can monitor exactly how much my horse is drinking. This may mean I will have to disconnect automatic systems and provide a different way for my horse to get water that I can fill regularly and see just how much water he is drinking.

Heated Waterers

There are several options available to keep water at a pleasant temperature to prevent the unappealing piercing cold water that horses will stay away from. Heating elements are available for large tanks, and there are also smaller buckets that come with elements that will keep the contents warm.

Salt, Electrolytes and Flavors

Having salt and mineral blocks close to your horse’s water source will often encourage drinking. Some people even put a small amount of flavored sports drink in their horse’s water to add flavor and electrolytes.

Add Moisture to Diet

Adding wet feed to your horse’s diet also is a great way to supplement moisture. Soaking hay, beet pulp and/or pelleted food can be an effective way to “feed wet.” A lot of people like to add warm bran mash to their horse’s diet, specifically in the winter; however, the nutritional value is questionable, and such a sudden change in diet can sometimes cause colic. I have heard it recommended that simply adding water to regular grain can be better than adding the warm bran mash.

The importance of water intake in cold months is obvious. Educating yourself on ways to ensure your horse is staying hydrated and healthy is critical. If you have special circumstances or questions, contact your veterinarian. FBN

By Cheyenne Brown

Cheyenne Brown is the marketing manager for Olsen’s Grain.

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