I don’t know about you but the summers here in Maryland can get pretty hot. Very hot at times. Summer can be enjoyable for horses and riders because you get to spend so much time outside enjoying those long days. But along with the summer fun, hot weather and high humidity in many areas can pose a risk to your horse.
When horses sweat, they lose water, calcium, potassium and magnesium. That’s why it’s so important to keep your horse hydrated especially since horses can be prone to heat exhaustion or even heat stroke due to their large size. Here are some helpful tips and reminders to keep your horse well hydrated and safe when the temperature rises in your area.
How Much Water Does My Horse Need?
The amount of water your horse drinks each day really depends on a number of variables. An average sized horse (1,000 pounds) drinks between 8 to 10 gallons of water each day. When it’s hot and humid outside, your horse is going to drink even more water – sometimes twice as much – especially if they’ve been exercising and sweating.
Always Have Water Available
Having water available to your horse or pony at all times is vital to their health. If your horse has access to a large turnout area or pasture in addition to a stall, there should be water available in all locations. This water should preferably be kept in the shade and as cool as possible. Trough water should be replaced multiple times a day if it is in the sun. If you keep several horses together, it’s important that you provide more than one source of water so they don’t have to compete with each other over drinking the water.
Make it part of your daily routine to check your horse’s water sources several times during the day, and empty the buckets or auto-waterers at least once a week to discourage mosquito and algae growth. If you use an automatic waterer, be sure to scrub under the metal flap where debris can accumulate. A small amount of bleach can be used to clean the troughs and buckets.
Another way to help keep your horse hydrated is to feed your horse wet hay or cubes. You can either soak your horse’s hay in water prior to feeding, or simply add his pellets or cubes to water and let them soak thoroughly about 20 minutes. Also, offering free access to salt blocks or loose salt in the feeder will also help encourage your horse to drink more water.
Make certain that salt is offered free choice:
- Horses require 1-2 ounces of salt per day, and this can increase to 6 ounces per day with exercise in hot weather conditions.
- If a horse has been salt deficient or is bored, they may over-consume salt while in a stall.
- Loose salt is consumed more readily than salt blocks in many cases.
- Additional electrolytes, commercial or personal recipe, may be used per directions before, during and following completion, but care must be taken to ensure that the horses are drinking adequate water.
Traveling with your horse can present challenges because the water may be different that your horse is accustomed to drinking. Horses often won’t drink water that has been chlorinated or treated, like water that comes from city water plants. You can always bring some water from home if possible. Another solution is to use masking flavors such as peppermint extract or apple juice at home for a few days before transporting your horse, and then continue to use that flavoring in his water while you are out traveling.
Extra Cooling Tips
In addition to providing your horse with plenty of fresh, cool water to drink, make sure your horse has plenty of shade from either trees or run in sheds. Also ensure there is plenty of room if you have multiple horses so they are not competing for this space.
Barn stalls should be equipped with fans and be sure to leave as much as possible open so the air can circulate. Water misters are also another option if you live a particularly hot area.
There are many great supplies to help with keeping your horses hydrated but keeping the summer fun!