Learn more about how to keep your horse hydrated this summer in our article here.
Exercising your horse in summer can lead to increased sweating and therefore losing more water and electrolytes than in normal conditions. Interestingly, an increase in environmental temperature to over 33 degrees can quadruple the loss of water from the horse’s body without even starting to exercise.
How much water does a horse need?
Water is vital for the horse, not only to stay hydrated but also for the function of physiological systems. These include the reproductive, urinary, digestive and lymphatic systems. The daily intake requirement of water for an adult horse at rest is 5L/100kg of body weight per day; those in hard work may need as much as 12-15L/100kg of bodyweight per day. Some horses can show signs of dehydration when 12-15% of water is lost, so it is vital to ensure all horses have access to fresh water.
How does their daily routine affect water intake?
Horses are naturally more likely to take on more water if they spend longer turned out in the field, compared to horses that spend more time stabled because grass is composed of 80% water. When horses eat a meal, this can also affect the balance of fluids within the body, and if several large meals are fed during the day, this can be enough to dehydrate a horse to the point of causing issues such as colic. It is therefore always important to consider what and how much you are feeding your horse and ensure there is always a good supply of clean, fresh water.
What are the signs of dehydration?
- Poor performance
- Darker coloured urine
Re-hydrating your horse
If you can easily identify major signs that your horse is dehydrated, then you need to act immediately. Call your vet if you have any concerns about your horse’s health.
You may have heard the saying ‘you can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink’ time and time again, but what’s the solution? There are several different ways in which to increase your horse’s water intake without simply expecting them to drink more. Feeding haylage instead of hay and trying to increase turnout where appropriate are two great ways to increase fluid intake. Another effective alternative is to feed your horse a ‘mash’ feed. These feeds are soaked in water before feeding and means that your horse doesn’t actually have to drink to take in more water.
Which mash feed should you choose?
British Horse Feeds are well-known for the flagship product ‘Speedi-Beet’, which, thanks to the unique patented process, has revolutionized the feeding of beet pulp. Speedi-Beet has improved nutrient availability and soaks in just 10 minutes, compared to 24 hours for sugar beet pellets.
British Horse Feed’s Fibre-Beet and Speedi-Beet are soaked fibre mashes that expand. Speedi-Beet can hold x5 it’s weight in water and Fibre-Beet can hold x3 it’s weight in water. Fibre-Beet can also be used to enhance forage supplies or replace (up to 60% of the daily forage allowance – for example, 1kg meal of soaked Speedi-Beet or Fibre-Beet could replace ½ kg of hay) when turnout and other forage options are limited and should be fed in several, smaller feeds throughout the day, encouraging natural trickle feeding behaviour. Additional water can also be added to these feeds beyond the minimum amount stated to encourage more water intake.
Always consult your vet for any veterinary advice or get in touch with British Horse Feeds’ qualified nutritionists on 01765 680300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit British Horse Feeds.