Typically, if you provide your horse with adequate amounts of fresh water, your horse will drink enough to satisfy their hydration needs. But what do you do when your horse decides that they are no longer thirsty? After all, we are not accustomed to making our horses drink. The old adage, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t him drink” points to the absurdity of this task. However, healthy water consumption is essential, no matter the time of year.
During the winter months, this can become a real concern for horse owners. A decrease in water consumption for only two days may cause your horse to discontinue eating or may even result in colic.
Water, Water Everywhere
In the cold winter months, it is paramount that you provide clean water to your horse at all times, while in the stall or pasture. Even a thin layer of ice can discourage your horse from drinking. In order to accommodate this in frigid weather, The Cheshire Horse carries a wide variety of heated buckets and deicers. These helpful products ensure that your horse’s water buckets are never frozen, no matter how low the thermometer dips.
When using a heated bucket, make sure that it is plugged into a grounded outlet and all wires are kept out of reach from your horse. This prevents the electricity from accidently shocking your horse, which would certainly prevent your horse from drinking an adequate amount. If you are plugging in an outdoor water heater, an outdoor extension cord and cord connector are requirements to keep your equine companions safe. For the eco-conscious equestrian, consider a thermostatically controlled outlet plug-in, which turns heated buckets and stock tank de-icers on and off based on the ambient temperature.
You may not think of needing to supplement salt in the winter months, since your horse probably isn’t sweating as much. Salt is still an essential nutrient, and needs to be treated as such. Whether you choose to supplement your horse with a salt lick or a loose salt supplement, salt should be provided year-round. In addition to being necessary for internal functions, salt will increase a horse’s natural thirst drive (just as it does for us).
If you are providing your horse with fresh, unfrozen water and your horse still chooses not to drink, it may be time to up the ante. Try soaking beet pulp, alfalfa cubes, or chopped forage before feeding. Hydration Hay was created for just this purpose. This will help your horse ingest more water, while enjoying a delicious treat. You can also try flavoring the water with apple juice, an electrolyte beverage, or Redmond Rein Water. Some horses even like the taste the apple cider vinegar! Try a variety of flavors to see what your horse prefers.
Be proactive about your horse’s water intake this winter. The Cheshire Horse has products that make it easy to encourage your horse to drink. Together, we can make this a happy, healthy, and hydrated winter season.