Readers Respond: Winter Refreshment

More than 1,500 readers of TheHorse.com responded to a poll asking, "How do you encourage adequate hydration during cold weather?"

results of poll on hydration during cold weather

Results were as follows:
  • Heated water buckets/troughs: 73.10% (1,128)
  • Mashes: 27.41% (423)
  • Electrolytes: 20.41% (315)
  • Other: 23.01% (355)

All comments submitted by poll respondents are listed below.

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  • free salt mixed with the meals to encourage the proper amount of water intake
  • Fastrack Equine Microbials helps increase water intake all year
  • lots of fruits and veggies
  • A skin pinch test on the point of shoulder will tell you whether your horse is hydrated.
  • Either a float or submersable tank heater. Have done this for over 25 yrs with no problems.
  • Using the heated buckets and electrolytes works well with my horses - as well as keeping ice away.
  • We keep a heater in our tank so they always have water avail.
  • they have access to a big barn at all timesand the heated water is nearby.
  • Provide large buckets or tubs of water. I've found that the more that more available=more drinking
  • warm water sloppy bran mash with brown sugar and apples and carrots when the weather is changing ,
  • salt block
  • Feed sloppy sugar beet
  • Warm water with carrots
  • chopped up apples in the water
  • trough is heated, they drink more with increased forage for the cold weather
  • even with heated buckets my horses love to drink the water outside as soon as I break the ice out
  • Wet grain & add carrots because they're 90 % water
  • I give my horse warm water twice a day with carrots
  • We live in Florida, so we really don't have a problem.
  • white iodized salt 1 tablespoon twice a day in feed
  • Take a round water barrel place rubber tires down over barrel to the top. the water will not freeze
  • access to a salt block
  • horses love water at about 40 degrees
  • I give them a warm oatmeal, peppermint, bran mash on the coldest days. They slurp it up!
  • Heated water and beet pulp added to pellets
  • beet pulp
  • Two buckets of water in stall filled three times a day, heated troughs outside
  • I put her hay in a large bucket and add 5 gal. of water. She eats the hay, then drinks the water .
  • Add salt to mash
  • Changing H2O daily
  • i give them extra salt in thier feed to encourange water drinking
  • salt blocks
  • I make sure they have a salt block and minerals, tnis seems help make my horses thisty so they drink
  • Over 1 mo. of frozen water in AZ desert, have been carrying buckets of warm water out to pens
  • add salt to feed
  • I dont have a problem in winter where I live in Australia, thankfully
  • Keep 50 lb salt/mineral blocks & 250 lb 16% protein/mineral tubs freely accessible
  • I feed soaked beet pulp, have a stock tank heater and have added salt to the beet pulp.
  • water should be readly available 24 hrs a day!!
  • iodized table salt
  • heated buckets, warm water, soaked beet pulp/alfalfa pellet mashes.
  • tank heaters cost prohibitive, pour buckets of hot water into frozen troughs
  • I put a small salt block in my mare's feeder.
  • sometimes a litttle salt mixed in their grain helps also.
  • the barn is well insulated so no freezing water buckets
  • I live in Az. usually not a problem.
  • I put 1-2 TBS. of Table Salt in their feed am and pm. I use electrolytes for my oldest horse(27).
  • beat pulp soaked
  • We feed all of horses senior feed with hot water added.
  • salt
  • I take hot water in a large thermos from home to add to the water bucket, no hot water at my barn.
  • add some water to horses that get the most feed quanities
  • We carry buckets of hot water to the barn to temper the cold.
  • salt on the feed and bring in the barn during extremely cold weather
  • I always put electrolytes in my Horse's feed during the winter months.
  • I add feed salt to their grain in p.m.
  • handful of trace mineral salt with feed once daily
  • give them warm water at least once a day in cold weather.
  • Gatorade added to water in summer and cold winter days
  • add salt to feed
  • loose salt mixed in food
  • I feed warm, well soaked shredded beet pulp.
  • Salt & mineral buckets and sweet lix bucket
  • Fresh water several time s a day, that way there is less chance of ice over&the temp. is more normal
  • Salt blocks plus free flowing salt used to encourage thirst.
  • Not an issue. They all drink adequate amounts.
  • warm water
  • Keep salt blocks within easy reach of horses
  • salt
  • always buckets of water in stalls and tanks in field with heater in them
  • Insulated trough with foil bubble foil & set rough on insulation to retain heat
  • very well soaked beet pulp....drained and add hot water to warm it up!
  • Salt bricks in feeders and blocks in pastures, also.
  • I give my horse hot and cold water mixed by turn both taps from the house. They love it
  • plain old salt
  • In the barn and outside
  • If I have a horse that is not drinking I throw a few handfuls of bran into about a gallon of water.
  • Live in Florida!
  • I also add Redmond salt to his feed. Great stuff.
  • Give fresh buckets of water 3 times a day, in addition to the individual heated buckets
  • Not heated but clean and fresh with no ice
  • Actual hot water!
  • alfalfa cubes well soaked with extra water added
  • Add a little salt to his mash
  • I add a little corn oil to feed.
  • Molasses in the water
  • My horse refuses to drink if his water is too cold
  • Water at 40 degrees, available at all times
  • Maintain very clean water buckets
  • Add salt to feed in winter
  • I add a small amount of epsom salt to provide magnesiumand increase thirst
  • I add a tablespoon of salt to his supplements and maintain exercise/fitness level.
  • free choice salt and I add molassas to their supplements
  • heated water keeps 34 yr old horse drinking
  • buckets of warm water added to water tub, very wet bran mashes
  • water and lots of beet pulp
  • wet hay down
  • We insulate the tanks and buckets too, otherwise they still freeze due to cold winds.
  • I soak my horse's feed in warm water and give her a bucket of warm water and all the snow she wants
  • A bucket of warm water with a peppermint in it! Horses think it's peppermint tea!
  • I feed Safe Choice and it has everything in it that makes them drink plenty of water.
  • A pinch of salt in the bucket, keep fresh
  • a bit of kosher salt in her supplements
  • I make sure salt is always available.
  • No comments
  • Make sure water troughs are clean and water is fresh to encourage drinking.
  • they have a salt lick and fresh (warm )water every day
  • USe soaked beet pulp.
  • it doesn't get that cold here
  • I feed safe choice w/ corn oil, and I have automatic waters so the water is same temp
  • use a tank heater all winter and keep it filled to the top.
  • salt
  • Automatic waterers cleaned daily are always available and clean.
  • due to heating buckets i clean with clorox on a daily basis, and give them plenty of light excerise
  • Always offer free choice salt and minerals.
  • extra hay
  • RedCell in below freezing weather
  • water buckets in stalls but hortses prefer outside heated tank Warm water on pellets at night feed.
  • Beat pulp with as much water as they will tolerate
  • salt
  • So far this winter my horses have been drinking plenty of water with this heater. I am pleased.
  • Pm feed includes soupy beet pulp that has soaked all day
  • all grain is soaked am& pm with 1 gallon of water & use warm water & electrolyted
  • soaking beet pulp in hot water, combining bran within the beet pulp soak during winter- feeding warm
  • We offer two buckets of water; at least one has warmer water.
  • Breaking and scooping ice constantly... winter can be over now...
  • Have one horse that is a hay dunker, so he gets a bucket of water just for that
  • salt block in grain feeder
  • plenty of soaked sugar beet pulp
  • If the horse wants to drink he will eat snow if he has to. I maks sure feed is well dampened.
  • I add salt to their feed with a little corn oil to get the salt to stick to the feed
  • I add salt to my horses feed if they will eat it. One horse will absolutley not touch his food if an
  • Loose salt in feed daily
  • I put salt in their feed
  • Electrolytes (plus carrots or apples, & some sweet feed) in hot soupy beet pulp mash 5+ times/week
  • I put an apple supplement in the water to encourage adequate hydration during the cold winter months
  • A little loose mineral salt with feedings in the winter will keep your horses drinking water.
  • Bran mashes are $$$ but a little bran in a hot-water BEET PULP MASH works great, adds water to diet
  • We live in a very temperat climate and, for the most part, don't have an issue
  • SALT IN FEED BUCKET
  • add table salt to grain whenever we have big shifts in temperatures
  • mineral salts in feed
  • Buckets are not heated but are freeze resistant. I make sure his bucket always has plenty of water.
  • I feed warm wet beet pulp
  • provide loose & block salt; 1/8 cup molasses 2x day in feed
  • I soak hay cubes and add beet pulp. I also carry hot water to mix with the cold/frozen water.
  • they like the warmed water; they drink more on colder days!
  • we add little salt to the feed at night works good for us
  • in addition to heated water buckets, water is added to grain, bran mash, hay cubes, beet pulp
  • I dump the heated buckets daily and refill so water is fresh. Trough is emptied & scrubbed weekly
  • dunk hay in trough after loosening flakes up works perfectly
  • acess to water all the time and salt/ mineral blocks in stalls
  • I feed beet pulp year round to all my horses. It's an easy way to get additional water into a horse.
  • A can of apple juice put in their water can encourage them to drink as well.
  • Make sure the water source is close to the shelter, and not on the other side of the field.
  • add hot water to buckets
  • I feed soaked beet pulp and grass forage along with grain meals
  • salt blocks
  • Fresh Water at all times
  • water in large bucket
  • Warm water added to the buckets, hot water in beet pulp w/feed, soaked until cool
  • ONCE A WEEK I GIVE BRAN MASH MIXED WITH A LITTLE WATER AND IT IS THE CONSISTANCY OF MOIST CRUMBLES
  • it doesn't get that cold in the South. A well placed mineral block close to the trough does it.
  • a little extra loose salt added to grain. We live in Southern California
  • Manna Pro Apple Waffers !! They LOVE them & they seem to make them thirsty.
  • I salt my hay when I put it up in the summer, I also salt their grain in winter
  • You CAN lead a horse to Gatorade and it WILL drink. Lemon-lime was favored in our taste test.
  • our climate is very cold and makes for a lot of ice. I keep all waters and buckets very clean
  • all 4 have heated buckets. only mini gets electrolytes and other treatments due to chronic colic.
  • Add a teaspoonful of salt to their mash every other day.
  • beet pulp!
  • Dump & refill pails instead of topping them off. Give 1 Tablespoon loose salt/mineral salt weekly.
  • tab of salt in feed
  • Provide an Ice free water source
  • Tearsa my paint drinks most of her water in a heated 16 gallong bucket every 24 hours.
  • I board my horse at a boarding stable, so this is the only thing I can control.
  • Salt blocks in stalls
  • Heated water, Mashes and adding salt to mashes to make horse thirsty
  • Table Salt in Mashes
  • Clean water buckets twice a week, give suppliments w/ salt, minerals
  • add salt to grain
  • add water to feed
  • Salt bricks in their feed pans, tank heaters on really cold days.
  • 2 TBLS salt with evening feed
  • warmer water is definitely more inviting in cold weathe, but also adding a tsp of salt in mash
  • salt
  • Soaked beet pulp
  • warmer water is definitely more inviting in cold weathe, but also adding a tsp of salt in mash
  • I provide warm water (warm to the touch) and my horses love it.
  • table salt added to feed
  • No pampering here! Tanks would be solid ice without them.
  • Feeding salty treats like sunflower seeds.
  • Granulated salt in supplement bucket
  • I add 1/2 teaspoon full of sea salt granules to the feed 1 x daily.
  • I bring warm water to the barn when it gets really cold.
  • I add sea salt to their diet
  • I add 1/2 teaspoon full of sea salt granules to the feed 1 x daily.
  • I top dress salt to their feed if they're not drinking enough water
  • Providing plenty fresh jucy fruits and clean warmed water does great
  • apples+oats+hot water..they love it!
  • cut up apples and carrots and float in water tub
  • good quality hay encourages liquid intake
  • not only do i use a tank deicer, I insulate & cover the tank, leaving a hole for drinking!
  • beet plup soaked overnigt in warm water then before feeding add hot water to warm it up.
  • Heated water is KEY to get my equines to drink enough in cold weather.
  • just to keep them from freezing
  • I always keep a salt lick and if needed add salt to the grain
  • keep water clean and good hay
  • My horses also have a small stream in their pasture, so they have a choice of water sources.
  • salt blocks
  • I make sure Bri's water is as clean as possible
  • soaked beet pulp
  • We supply electrolytes year-round.
  • I use Cool Horse to make sure my Tennessee Walker and Draft Cross horses get enough hydration.
  • Frequent clean fresh water and also warm water on below freezing nights
  • table salt added to mash
  • we have one in each stall
  • beet pulp, dry or wet
  • Keep water fresh (yes even when snowing/freezing), always provide salt - loose & licks.
  • wet the hay
  • Extra salt on food, wet hay to help hydrate
  • a simple shake of table salt on their senior horse feed
  • Beet pulp soup - my horse thinks it's a treat.
  • FEED ALFALFA. THAT ENCOURAGES WATER COMSUMPTION
  • mix tsp of molasses with hot water and divide that between my two horses' water buckets. Sweet!
  • I have 2 miniature horses that stop drinking every time we have a severe weather change.
  • adding hot water to stall buckets so that they cool more slowly
  • keep loose salt and minerals out free choice
  • new fresh clean water daily
  • I add a little salt to the morning grain.
  • salt added to food
  • I don't have heated buckets but I have a small water heater and I give the horses luke warm water.
  • fresh water everyday
  • I'm very fortunate to have a "heavy drinker" in the equine world.
  • 2T regular kitchen salt in feed
  • adding a little apple juice to the water also helps
  • I also give mashes if the temperature suddenly drops.
  • adding salt to grain
  • offer warm water
  • I feed beet pulp and keep a salt lick in their feed buckets.
  • free-choice LOOSE mineral and salt available
  • I wet all their grain and add well soaked beat pulp every meal.
  • By offering loose salt there is an increase in both salt and water consumption
  • offer them very warm water to drink
  • tank heater goes a long way.
  • Tablespoon of salt w/dinner.
  • We are blessed with Auto waterers that we can adjust temp on...keep it warm to touch
  • add alfalfa meal w/molasses to diet.
  • Warm water, warm beet pulp, soaked hay and 1 oz salt BID
  • FEED 2 TBLS SALT IN GRAIN
  • Feed a mash with equal parts beet pulp and bran our vet sug. for colic & it helps w/ hay
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar + 1 tsp honey in luke warm bucket of water
  • There's no excuse not to use a tank heater and have water available at all times!
  • You left the entire West Coast out! We don't have this trouble in Central CA.
  • They get
  • Offer a warm bucket of water.
  • Add salt to grain when below freezing; add 2 cups well-hydrated beet pulp to grain
  • gatorade
  • For horses that are bucket watered, I will add apple cider vinegar (1 T.) if not drinking well
  • My drafts drink fine. My Icelandic eats ice!
  • salt
  • Always provide salt or mineral licks
  • we add stock salt to the rations once a day
  • my horses have a fresh water spring to drink from
  • Free choice loose mineral salt and salt blocks, heated troughs kept clean
  • feed damp grain mixed with electrolytes to encourage the horse to drink - it really works -
  • salt
  • We put water in their feed to insure they are getting at least a pint to a quart per feeding.
  • feed out doors in the rain
  • Never had a problem, They always have heated water and free choice mineral block
  • as long as the water isn't frozethey drink
  • adding loose salt to one meal a week
  • Well soaked hay cubes as part or total of hay feed.
  • Add 1 tsp salt to feed
  • Good mineral / salt intake. make sure water is fresh even in auto drinkers, and clean the drinkers.
  • I use beet pulp twice a day, on extremely cold days they get an extra meal made with hot water.
  • in Wisconsin, heated tanks, and a little bit of salt on the grain
  • Soaked Beet Pulp
  • Very rarely freezes where I live.
  • add 2 parts water to 1 part grain when under 40 degrees. Horses love it!
  • heated buckets/troughs are the best thing to come out in years!
  • Mineral block
  • Don't need to. MY Icelandics drink fine, even frozen water!
  • 1 tsp salt in grain
  • salt
  • We soak their pellets, which helps against choke too.
  • peel and slice apples and drop into the water bucket so horse has to basically "bob" for apple
  • supplying free choice salt block and keeping ice free water very clean
  • plain white salt
  • I also keep salt licks in every stall and a field block outside
  • I've never had that problem. My horse has water at her disposal and drinks regularly
  • Soak the hay
  • By adding salt to their grain and using a product that is a GI tract re-hydrator
  • I use loose mineral salt and add a pinch or two to feed ration
  • Room temp. mashes and topped up water buckets with hot water. Heated water buckets in extreme freezi
  • our horse drink a lot more when the water is heated
  • Add extra bran to diet
  • I add salt to the mashes
  • water is slightly heated and close to their hay and shelter area
  • we feed a sloppy beet pulp mash to all
  • add a little peppermint oil as well.
  • hay cubes soaked in water
  • fresh water
  • insulated water bucket so freezing doesn't occur
  • keep a small white salt block in grain feeder, mixes with the feed and feed U-7 which has sodium
  • I also keep buckets and tanks cleaned out as well as possible in WI subzerio temps.
  • Fresh Water 2-4x a day in a barrel
  • I feed beet pulp (wet) and add water to all the horses' feed. Time consuming but it works!
  • My horse Cowboy just loves water and is always drinking so its not a worry that he doesn't get enuf
  • feed free choice salt mix w/o urea
  • My horses receive a soupy mash which includes electrolytes 365 days a year
  • i feed all meals wet and soak hay when i can to makes sure he gets plenty of water
  • minerals/salts & exercise
  • Other: white salt available 24/7 in stalls and paddocks
  • a srpinkle of loose table salt in every feeding.
  • We clean out all buckets 365 times a year and troughs once a week to promote drinking
  • Equitea is great in Alberta..I make it warm and our horses love it.
  • Put salt mineral mix in feed.
  • Add water to his grain ration
  • adding small amount of plain white salt to senior mix
  • Giving warm water at least 3 times a day
  • Warm Bran Soup add Cinnamon, linseed meal, (stabilized rice) in large bucket
  • Definitely!
  • I give 1/2 cup of vinegar in their evening pellet meal
  • Living in Alaska - its water heaters or ice. :)
  • Fortunate to live in warmer climate
  • Offer warm water @ breakfast feeding
  • 50 pound mineral salt block in stall
  • We have a water heater in the feed room. Buckets are checked three times daily.
  • I sprinkle a little mineral salt from the free choice bin in his stall.
  • We are in the South, during cold snaps leave the water run
  • we also offer a bucket of warm water and a bit of molasses, like a table spoon to a bucket,
  • free salt sprinkled on hay greatly increases the amount of water my pastured horses are consuming
  • Add a little salt to their food it makes them thirsty
  • I also add hot water to the grain twice a day and a bit of salt to encourage more drinking.
  • 3/4 bucket hot h2o from house topped off with h2o from heated trough or tap
  • Keep his hay near his water - he dunks EVERYTHING!
  • 1 tbsp. salt with am & pm feed
  • in arizona it's not so much a problem
  • I have hot water heater in my barn to use when it gets really cold
  • Adding salt.
  • I add hot water to the buckets
  • break ice apart in troughs and rake ice out - it helps temporarily at least
  • We keep our tanks heated & feed soaked (warm) beet pulp. Yum!
  • I also add a lil stock salt to her feed just to entice her to drink more....
  • Add a little powdered GatorAid or apple juice to a bucket of warm water.
  • I'm off grid so no heated water buckets. I do however give them warm water. They love it!
  • 3 200 gal. full time fresh flow water
  • peppermint flavored Cool Horse hydration formula
  • add salt to grain mixture helps make them drink more- vets Idea.
  • salt & warm warter
  • Salt blocks
  • I carry warm buckets of water to the barn--guess they have me trained!
  • Added salt!
  • In the South, we use electrolytes 24/7/365, but double up during "cold" snaps to encourage drinking
  • Fresh, warm, full water trough and salt block nearby.
  • soaked beet pulp
  • Some salt in the grain and a bedtime bucket of the hottest tap water I can draw. Equine Senior mash!
  • increase loose salt
  • Also put cut-up apples in their buckets.
  • beet pulp w/ alfalfa cubes

About the Author

Erin Ryder

Erin Ryder is a former news editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care.

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