I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Water is one of the most important things for a horse, especially in winter! Did you know that adequate water intake is one of the best ways to help prevent colic? That’s just one of the many reasons why it’s so critical to keep water clean, free of ice, and readily available for horses to drink anytime.
On a cold day, it’s nice for my human friends to go inside and have a cup of hot chocolate. Unfortunately, they tell me horses shouldn’t have chocolate, and there is no horsey equivalent. There have been reports, though, that horses prefer to drink warm water. Makes sense to me, but is there science to support that?!? You bet there is!
Some of my friends at the University of Pennsylvania did a study to determine if horses prefer warm or cold water in winter. They found that if horses were offered only warm water (66oF), they drank more volume than if offered only cold water (32-38oF). But, if they had a choice between the warm and cold water, they drank only the cold water, and less of it. The reason why is not yet known. These researchers also found that horses drink the most water within 3 hours of a meal. Seems logical to provide only warm water at mealtime to encourage the most consumption!
Keep in mind a few other points about water. As the horse consumes more forage, the need for water increases. Water helps keep food moving through the digestive system, and helps prevent impaction colic. A good salt block should be available for horses to lick. Salt will stimulate thirst, and the need for more water! Definitely a good thing!
Stay warm out there, and check those water buckets frequently. Make arrangements to offer warm water, especially around meal time, so encourage your horse to drink as much as possible.
One last thing….don’t forget that Horses 2017 is back this year! Come join my human friends for some excellent talks this March 18-19. You won’t want to miss it! Check out goo.gl/W9l9aA for registration details!
Until Next Time!