Water (How often, How much)

STEVE: I don’t really believe that horses ever get too much water. You can basically give them too much water at a time when they would try to take in too much. If they’re really, really overstressed, way too hot, you want to limit the amount of water that they take in slowly and let the body core temp come down gradually, and let them blow off. They’ll be really, really excited; eyes will be bulged a little bit, nostrils really flaring, respiratory rate is really high, and they’ll be sweating. As they gradually go down in respiratory rate, their nostrils aren’t as flared, the vessels on their skin aren’t nearly as distended, and they’re not sweating as much, you can allow them to bring them more water. Most horses will fill to demand, what they feel comfortable with. The one thing you are concerned about, however, is when they don’t bring enough water in.

If you’ve got them in a…let’s say, the time we see these kind of problems the most are in very, very cold weather. Horses don’t necessarily like to drink super-cold water. They’ll just take a few sips or whatever. That period of time, we go ahead and put warm water in their bucket because it’s more comfortable for them to take it in and they’ll drink more often. Then sometimes, we’ll add some electrolytes to them, so it’ll stimulate them to drink a little bit more.

Hydration is really important for gut motility, for overall health, for muscle function, for a lot of tissues throughout the body. You got to have proper hydration. Monitoring, we look at the water buckets on a daily basis. How much they drink overnight, how much they drink during the day, and how much they drink before and after feeding. We get a good read on how much water a horse is taking in. We also monitor the quality of the manure in their stall. We get a good read as to the moisture content in it. If it’s too dry, if it’s got diarrhea, or if it’s watery, it gives us a better idea of their overall health if they’re basically absorbing the nutrients. A lot of times, if a horse has got chronic diarrhea, they’ll become dehydrated. You’ve got to be aware of that. It’s something that a good read to know how much water they’re taking in and what the quality of the stool is, and that they’re eating properly, as well. The combination of all of the above give you a good read on where you are with your horse.

ALEX: The other thing is how you’re going to offer that water to a horse. If they’re obviously in a barn, then you’ll have a water bucket hung on the wall for them. It’s important that they get clean, fresh water. You want to take that water bucket out every day and clean it to make sure there’s nothing that accumulates on there, any bacteria and such. If they’re out in the field, there are automatic waterers. There are also automatic waterers that you can have in a barn. You need to figure out the delivery system, and they most importantly get clean and fresh water.