Keeping Your Horse Hydrated

Keeping Your Horse Hydrated

Horses, as natural grazers, obtain a significant portion of their hydration from fresh pasture. This natural source of moisture ensures a slow-release water supply that aids in keeping horses passively hydrated. However, situations such as travel, training, and events may limit a horse's access to grazing, making it crucial for horse owners to take proactive measures to prevent dehydration.

Horses typically drink between 25 to 55 litres of water per day, depending on factors such as weather, diet, and activity level. It is crucial to ensure that horses have constant access to fresh, clean water to prevent dehydration. Automatic self-filling troughs, galvanized iron or reinforced plastic, large tubs, or buckets can be used to provide water in the field. Regular maintenance, including scrubbing out algae in summer and breaking and removing ice in winter, is essential throughout the year.

To determine if your horse is dehydrated, you can perform several checks. One common method is assessing the skin's elasticity by gently pinching some skin on their neck above the shoulder – normally, the skin should snap back to its original place quickly, but if dehydrated, it will form a wrinkle and take around five seconds to recover. Checking capillary refill time by pressing the upper gum with your thumb can reveal dehydration – if the gum takes longer than a full second to return to a light pink colour, dehydration may be present. Horses that are excessively weary and lose concentration during tasks, especially in hot temperatures, may also suggest dehydration. Please consult your local veterinarian if you are concerned that your horse is severely dehydrated.

If you find yourself concerned consistently about the hydration of your horse, or you frequently travel, train, or compete in events involving sustained exercise such as endurance or eventing, your horse may face challenges in staying hydrated—particularly during the warmer months. Limited access to grazing and reduced water intake during these periods can increase the risk of dehydration. Wetting hay or soaking feeds is a common practice, but it comes with a drawback of losing nutrients that dissolve in water. However, research suggests that incorporating Fiber Fresh products into the horse's diet can provide up to 8% more slow-release water per day, which is roughly an extra 3.6 litres per day.

In situations where horses face limited water intake, providing dry fibre can lead to dehydration and potentially a condition called choke. The risk of choke increases when horses consume feed too quickly without adequate chewing, hindering saliva production. Saliva is a natural lubricant for food to pass safely through the oesophagus, and into the stomach. A viable solution for these horses is the incorporation of Fiber Fresh fibre into their diet. Our fresh, chewable fibre will help to maintain their fibre intake (which maintains their gut health), and also enables passive hydration without the addition of sugars, a common concern in alternatives like adding molasses to their water. This ensures a more comprehensive approach to addressing dehydration and related issues in horses during demanding situations.

Keeping your horse hydrated during the heat is essential for its overall health and well-being. Understanding the challenges horses face in maintaining hydration during travel, training, or events is crucial, and incorporating fresh, chewable, fibre can provide a reliable source of slow-release water. By implementing these strategies and maintaining access to fresh water sources, horse owners can ensure their equine companions stay properly hydrated, even in challenging conditions.