You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. It’s true, but you can definitely encourage your horse to drink. Dehydration can have serious health consequences, so here are five ways that you can make sure that your horse drinks enough water.
1. Keep Water Clean and Fresh
Many horses don’t like to drink dirty water – after all, would you? Keeping your horse’s water buckets and water troughs clean and the water fresh can go a long way toward encouraging your horse to drink. Try to keep water troughs located in a shaded area during the summertime – water in the sun can heat up, and algae grows more quickly in warmer water than it does in cooler water.
2. Bring Water From Home
If you are taking your horse on a trip, whether you’re going to a horse show or are headed to a trail ride away from home, always bring plenty of water along with you. Some horses dislike the strange taste of water from another farm, and will actually drink less or refuse to drink entirely. Bringing along plenty of your horse’s water from home ensures that the water tastes normal.
If you’re not able to bring along your water from home, you can try to mask the taste of strange water. Pour in a little apple juice or Gatorade; many horses will be attracted by the sweet smell and taste.
3. Provide Warm Water in the Winter
Ice cold water is unappealing to a horse, so make an effort to provide your horse with warm water especially in the dead of winter. You can do this by hauling hot water to the barn, or you can use a trough heater. Heated water buckets are another way to keep your horse’s water drinkable and appealing, no matter what the temperatures are.
4. Provide Electrolytes
Providing your horse with electrolytes or free-choice salt is another way to prompt him to drink. A bit of salt over your horse’s grain, or a salt lick positioned by his water buckets, will activate your horse’s thirst and he should readily take to his water.
5. Soak Feed
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There’s one way that you can almost certainly get extra water into your horse, and that’s by soaking his feed. Soak your horse’s grain in warm water until it’s more of a mash, then give him his meal. You can also soak your horse’s hay – your horse will ingest more water by eating soaked hay than by eating dry hay.