Hey, y'all! Sam here talking a bit about watering your equine. Now, you're probably thinking: "Oh please, Sam! We all know watering your horse is important. Like, how basic are we going here?"
Glad you asked! We're going super basic. Everyone knows that if you don't give any living thing water, then it's sure to die, right? But what if you're out on a trail ride? What if you've been riding for hours and your horse hasn't had a single sip? How do you know if your horse is dehydrated?
When you tack up your horse after it's had access to water for a good amount of time, then you probably won't need to give it a drink until you're done with the ride. However, this does depend on your environment. For many of you, it's a scorching hot summer. Here in Texas, the grass is turning brown and it hurts to walk barefoot across concrete. In this case, I like to give Ellie a good long drink of water once or twice in the middle of a ride depending on how long it is.
How do you know if your horse is dehydrated? Simple. You look at their flank. If you read “Parts Are Important,” then you know what the flank is. So, if the flank is sunk in, you have a problem. This is a huge sign that your horse is dehydrated. If this is the case, you need to get your equine to water as soon as possible.
Don’t expect the flank to raise immediately after the horse drinks. You should give it a few minutes.
All this talk about water begs the question: “How much does a horse drink?”
Obviously, this widely varies. If you have a bigger horse, it’ll probably drink more water. If you live in a dry environment, it’ll probably drink more water.
The average horse will drink around 8 - 13 gallons per day. As I said, this varies. If you work your horse hard, it’ll drink more. If it’s a mare with a foal, it’ll drink more in order to make milk.
Anyway, you get the point. So how much water should you make sure your horse has? Well, the container you use should hold at least 20 gallons, otherwise you have to go fill it up multiple times a day.
But what if your horse is thirsty and won’t drink? Some say “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make ‘im drink.” This isn’t necessarily true. If it’s been a couple days and your horse hasn’t even glanced at its water, then it’s probably time to take action. To make ‘im drink.
There are many things you have to check before actually “making them” drink. One of those being the cleanliness of the water. If the water you give your horse is mucky and gross, then you definitely need to wash it out.
Think of it this way: If you were thirsty, would you drink your horse’s water? Most of you would immediately say no. If your answer is no, why are you making your horse drink it? Horses are living, breathing beings, too, you know. They can taste things. They have noses, tongues and taste buds.
If you think I sound silly and you have a response similar to this: “They eat grass! A bit of dirt in their water won’t hurt them,” then you’re thinking wrong. Believe it or not, dirty water can make your horse very sick. It can even cause colic.
So, you’ve cleaned your horse’s water, but it still won’t drink. This is where you try a new technique: Salt.
It’s common knowledge that salt will make any being thirsty, but what else does it have to do with watering your horse? I mean, won’t it just make the problem worse by dehydrating your horse even more?
The answer: not necessarily. Giving your horse salt will make them feel the need to drink. I’ve tried this approach many times before (my horse is super picky about water, L.O.L.) and it’s worked.
Just sprinkle a bit of salt in their feed (quantity varies on how much you feed them). After a couple days, if they still haven’t had anything to drink, I would stop putting salt in the feed. If you salt their feed too many times, it really will only make things worse.
So, you’ve tried cleaning out their water and giving them salt. Nothing’s worked. This is where we try yet another approach: moving their water.
Sometimes a horse is just plain picky. If this is the case, try changing the container that the water’s in. I find this works really well in situations where, before you cleaned it out, the water was super dirty. Even after you clean the water, the horse will still remember how yucky it tasted before.
If this is the case, you should change containers. Stop using the one you’ve been using, then use one that looks different. This will show the horse that there’s new water.
Sometimes you don’t need to change containers. Sometimes you can just move the container you’re already using. Move it to a different pasture or the other side of the stall. This will also cause the horse to think differently about the water.
Finally, if none of these approaches work, you should talk with your vet. They’ll know what to do in your specific situation.
All right. That covers it. Comment below on whether YOUR horse has refused to drink! Sam out!