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5 Tips for keeping your horse hydrated in hot weather

Keeping your horse hydrated

When the days are long and hot, one of the most important things you can do as a horse owner is making sure your horses are well hydrated. Dehydration isn’t good for your horse and can even lead to colic symptoms. As a horse owner, it’s important to be aware of the importance of water intake before it’s too late.

Some horses guzzle water no problem, others can be pickier. Aside from making sure your horse has clean, cool water at all times, there are some other steps you can take to help them stay hydrated. Here are a few of my favourites.

1 Offer water in a bucket

If your horse is watered via an automatic waterer, ensure that in his stable there is also a bucket full of clean water so that he has an alternative place to drink. Most automatic waterers have quite a shallow bowl which means that the water heats up in it. We all know that cool water on a hot day is way more enticing than warm or even hot water. The same is true for your horse.

Big buckets mean that the water is able to stay cooler for longer. The goal is just to make sure they have more than one option, especially during the hottest part of the year.

2 Make salt available

In hot weather, it's extremely important that your horse is able to replace salt that is lost through sweating. This can be done a couple of different ways but, one of the easiest, is to make sure that there is always a salt block available for your horse.

The important thing is that your horse has free-choice access to salt, even if you also supplement him with salt and/or electrolytes as part of your feeding routine.

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3 Use electrolytes

If you ride when it’s hot, you may want to consider having electrolytes on hand to replace the minerals that your horse loses when he sweats when exercising. If you can, have both the powdered electrolytes as well as a few tubes just in case more rapid delivery is required.

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4 Add water to almost everything

For any horse, but especially for horses that are super picky about their drinking water, to add some extra water to almost everything they eat. This can be done in a variety of different ways. Here are some ideas:

Hay: consider briefly soaking one or more of their regular haynets before feeding. Of course, if you have one horse this is easier than if you have multiple. Hay will readily soak up water, so it’s best to drain it before feeding. Most horses won’t notice and will still consume it.

If you have multiple horses to feed, adding moisture to the hay can be as easy as turning on the hose and thoroughly dowsing it for a few minutes.

Hard feed: horses in work are usually on some form of hard feed to supplement their calorie intake. Instead of just feeding the hard feed dry, add just enough water to make it “sloshy”. Sure, your horse’s muzzle might get a little messy while eating it, but this is a great way to get even a little extra water into them.

5 Teach your horse to drink “strange” water

Spring and summer are often the time of year when most of us want to adventure out to new and exciting places with our horses, ie the beach. Some horses, though, don’t like to drink “strange” water. They like the water at home, but on the road, they drink very little and start to dehydrate quickly. So, how can you help make sure that doesn’t happen? Bring water from home as this is the easiest way to help ensure your horse keeps drinking is to bring water from home.

And finally…

Hydration for your horse is important all times of the year. So, these tips can be applied in both summer and winter. However, in summer, horses can dehydrate a lot faster due to heat and, especially if they are being ridden.

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Kim Horton

Co-Founder of EQUUS and a keen equestrian, when Kim's not at her desk she's with her horse, Waldo.


  • Rosi Caswell posted on May 20 2020 at 12:05 PM

    Hi Kim, agree with all you say in this blog, though I would just add the proviso that water that is too cold, can cause colic – I have always taught students to ensure that when horses have been in medium to heavy work, and are hot (and thirsty) upon return, as well as dealing with the outside of the horse re constructive cooling, they make sure the water that is offered has the chill taken off it to avoid gut problems. X

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