Typically, if you provide your horse with adequate amounts of fresh, clean water, your horse will drink enough to satisfy their hydration needs. But what do you do when your horse decides that they are no longer thirsty? We have all heard the proverb, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” We’re here with good news—while you may not be able to make your horse drink, you can certainly make the prospect of drinking more enticing.
Water is an essential nutrient for your horse, despite what they may sometimes think. Ann M Swinker, a former Extension Horse Specialist at Pennsylvania State University, explains, “The average horse will intake 5 to 10 gallons of fresh water per day. Just like humans, different horses crave or need different water amount intakes.”
For this reason, you should determine a baseline water consumption level for your horse. A decrease in water consumption for only two days can encourage your horse to discontinue eating or may even result in colic.
When your horse exhibits a decrease in their water consumption, start at the beginning. Make sure that their water buckets are clean and full of fresh and clean water.
You will also want to check the temperature. According to Swinker, “Just like humans, in the heat of summer, a horse will enjoy cool, fresh water, but in cold winter situations, difficulties arise in providing water that is too cold or in a semi-frozen state. Humans enjoy a cup of hot tea, coffee, or chocolate to warm their internal system and needs in the winter. Horse owners have discovered that warming the drinking water for their horse during the winter will lead to the horse consuming more water.”
If you are providing your horse with fresh, clean water and your horse still chooses not to drink, it may be time to up the ante a bit. Trying soaking beet pulp, chopped forage, or bagged alfalfa for horses. This will trick your horse into ingesting water while enjoying a delicious treat. You can also try flavoring the water with apple juice or even an electrolyte beverage… Some horses even like the taste of apple cider vinegar! Try various flavors to see what your horse prefers.
Make sure that you do not become lax about your horse’s water intake. While this may seem like a simple chore, the lack of water in your horse’s diet can have horrid consequences.