Is your horse drinking enough water?

Here are three ways to reduce your horse's risk of becoming dehydrated even in the coldest weather.

• Keep buckets and troughs ice-free. Of course you know that a frozen-solid water source is a bad thing, but don’t assume your horse will break through a thin layer of ice or be willing to drink water that contains chunks of ice; many horses won’t do either. Invest in a heated bucket or immersible heater to ensure your horse’s water temperature stays above freezing.

Don’t assume a horse will break through even a thin layer of ice to reach water in winter. Strive to keep troughs ice-free

• Check all automated waterers daily. Frozen lines, electric short circuts or simple mechanical failure can cause an automatic water to run dry, and you may not notice your horse isn’t drinking until he is dangerously dehydrated. Even though you aren’t dumping and filling buckets, make it a habit to check the function of every automatic waterer on your property every day.

Click here for tips on preventing winter weight loss in horses.

• Mix up some mashes. A warm, wet, soupy mash is an easy way to get some extra water into a horse. Skip the traditional bran, however—its sudden appearance in your horse’s diet can lead to colic. Instead, wet your horse’s usual feed with enough hot water to soften it into a moist mash-like consistency. Feed it once it has cooled slightly, but well before it begins to freeze. If your horse isn’t sensitive to sugars, you can add a dollop of applesauce for an extra treat. 

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