The Importance of Water during Summer for Horses

The Importance of Water during Summer for Horses

When the temperature climbs above 85°F, horses will start to drink more water, especially if they are sweating.

Photo: Thinkstock

There are six nutrients every horse needs, and the most important—and probably most overlooked—is water.

With temperatures currently soaring, it’s not only imperative horses have access to water at all times, but also that it’s clean and fresh. Check horses' water at least daily for debris, manure, dead animals, and other contaminants, and dump and scrub down the trough and water buckets often.

On average, a 1,100-pound horse drinks about 10 gallons of water a day. However, that amount can double during the summer due to:

  • Temperature—When the temperature climbs above 85°F, horses will start to drink more water, especially if they are sweating.
  • Feed—Lush pastures can provide a large amount of a horse’s water requirements when grazing. But hay and grain—especially when high in protein—are low in moisture and will cause a horse to drink more water to meet his needs.
  • Health—A horse with diarrhea, but that is eating normally, will have increased water requirements to compensate for fluid loss.
  • Lactation—Mares with nursing foals require as much as 80% more water for milk production.
  • Exercise—Any type of physical activity will increase the amount of water a horse needs.

When horses water intake is limited, not only can he become severely dehydrated, but he can also experience impaction colic—an accumulation of feed or dried indigestible material that becomes an obstruction in the horse’s large colon. For every pound of feed ingested, a horse needs two to four pints of water for digestion, which adds up to almost 10 gallons a day for an 1,100-pound horse.

By Jyme Nichols, MS, and courtesy Bluebonnet Feeds.

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