By Jennifer Roberts
When summer is officially here and riding season is in full swing, carefully monitor the temperature and watch your horse’s water intake more than ever.
We’re all aware that horses need water to survive, but the amount may surprise you. According to Helene McKernan, a research assistant at Penn State University, an average horse requires 5 to 10 gallons of water each day. This number rises, however, with the increase of temperature and humidity.
During hot spells it is imperative that your horses are provided with plenty of clean and cool water. And yes, you read that correctly, McKernan noted that horses prefer cool water in the heat and warm water during the colder months, just like we do.
If you find that your horse is not drinking water in the heat, you need to act quickly. According to McKernan, “A horse deprived of water may only live up to 3 or 6 days. After lacking water intake for two days a horse may refuse to eat and exhibit signs of colic and other life-threatening ailments.”
To encourage your horse to drink, consider using flavoring such as apple juice or sports drink (no artificial sugars please!), to entice your horse to drink the water. You may also want to consider adding electrolytes to your horse’s diet if they are sweating or have been in strenuous work.
One last thing to remember as you monitor your horse’s water intake, is the proverbial “what goes in, must come out.” Eventually, the majority of the water your horse consumes will exit the body in the form of sweat and urine. Sweat is easy to handle, but urine requires additional considerations.
Urine in your horse’s stall, run-in shed and paddock contains ammonia, which is a health risk to animals. The accumulation of ammonia in horse stalls, barns, and paddocks is more than an odor nuisance; studies have concluded that low levels of ammonia stress a horse’s upper respiratory airways placing them at risk for pneumonia, heaves, and other serious illnesses.
Using a stall refresher, such as Sweet PDZ, will absorb and neutralize ammonia and other odors, while providing fresh and safe air for your horse in its stall. Stall refreshers are far superior to lime products in terms of ammonia and moisture reduction.
It’s summer time and the living is easy, but don’t become lax about your horse’s water intake. While it may seem simple, the lack of water in your horse’s diet can have horrid consequences.