Many horse owners believe that hydration is more important during the hotter months, but as we approach the colder winter months, we discuss why ensuring your horse stays hydrated during the winter months is equally as important. Here are tips on how to prevent dehydration in your horse this winter:
Horse Hydration Facts
Did you know that your average horse needs between 20 – 30 litres of water a day, and even more so if they are exercising, to keep them healthy and hydrated. A horse’s body is made up of around 70% water, as an average, so it’s important to keep your horse hydrated, especially as dehydration can have serious health implications for the horse. What more than H2O does your horse need to keep itself hydrated?
In human Medicine, unrecognised dehydration can presents as TATT… (tired all the time). It is not a bad first check for when a horse’s performance is slightly under par. The most significant risk posed to the horse with dehydration is the risk of colic. The reason for this is that horses store water in their gastric tract and if this dries out it can lead to impaction colic. With longer hours being stabled, and increased fibre uptake, the combination of both can have a detrimental effect on your horse’s digestive system. Fortunately, Aloeride can help support hydration. It does that by providing a raft of very necessary, inorganic minerals that help to secure that the H2O your horse drank, stays inside for long enough to benefit.
Spot The Signs
Signs of dehydration are important to look out for and spotting them early can make a difference in dealing with a problem or an emergency.
Signs that your horse might be dehydrated include, but are not exclusive to,:
* Your horse looks dull and depressed (remember TATT)
* Not passing urine or dark urine
* Gums and eyelids are dark red instead of a healthy pink colour
Pinching your horse’s skin to see how long it takes to ping back is no longer considered a reliable way of assessing your horse’s hydrated state. A blood test taken by your vet will be able to determine what is wrong and we recommend always consulting your vet if you are the slightest bit concerned.
Ice Ice Baby
When the colder weather arrives, it’s even more critical to ensure that your horse has free access to water and some horses do not like drinking freezing cold water, so adding a little hot, to the water to keep it a nice palatable temperature, can encourage fussy drinkers. Also if you give water via buckets, keep an eye on their intake as part of your daily routine so you can spot any sudden changes in their drinking habits. Make sure that your water troughs are clear of ice so that your horse has access to water out in the field and soak hay or feed haylage as opposed to dry hay to increase his moisture levels. If your horse is drinking less, then it might be an idea to add electrolytes or a teaspoon of salt to his feed to encourage him to drink, but again speak to your vet if you are concerned.
Hair Today Gone Tomorrow
If you are working your horse over the winter and he is sweating each time you ride, you should consider clipping him to remove the hair which is causing him to sweat, even if it is just a blanket clip with a neck. This will not only make him feel more comfortable when being ridden but keep him cooler than trying to work out in a heavy winter coat!
If you enjoyed reading this blog, you might enjoy reading Electrolyte Status During Exercise.