Winter Hydration

Let’s talk about your horse’s water consumption during these cold weather snaps.

Did you know your horse requires MORE water in the winter?

During the summer, fresh pasture contains up to 80% moisture which contributes to your horse’s water intake requirement. To put it into perspective, hay contains approximately 15% moisture and as a result your horse’s water consumption increases. The average size horse needs approx. 10 gallons of water per day. Ensuring your horse is consuming adequate levels of water per day is a crucial step in reducing the risk of dehydration and impaction colic. Encourage your horse to drink more water by:

  • Always providing access to clean, fresh water. 
  • Check your tank heaters or automatic waters regularly for proper use.
  • Keep your horse’s water between 45° to 65° F for maximum consumption.
  • Lastly, increase your horse’s salt intake by add 1-2 ounces of salt to feed daily or utilize an electrolyte such as MVP’s Apple-Lyte powder or Electro-Cell II paste to help encourage water consumption.

It is also important to check for dehydration throughout the day during cold snaps. 

3 Ways to Check for Dehydration:

1. Pinch Test
Pinch skin near the point of the shoulder. If the skin snaps back right away they are hydrated. If it takes longer than a couple seconds to snap back, they are likely dehydrated.

2. Capillary Refill Time
Press your thumb into their upper gum of your horse’s mouth. The pressure point will be a lighter color. If the pressure point returns to a pink color within 2 seconds, they are hydrated. If it takes 3 seconds or longer, they are dehydrated.

3. Monitor Their Behavior
Keep an eye on how your horse is acting. Do they seem sluggish, lethargic, or depressed? Do they perk up when you greet them? If they seem to be acting normal, that is a good sign!