Tuesday Tips: Bottoms Up!
We just got our first dusting of snow here in central Kentucky–our animals are looking at us like they’re trying to figure out when and how we moved to Canada, and we have no idea what to tell them. It’s gotten us thinking about the yearly struggle to get horses to drink more water during the colder months.
We’ve read a lot about the subject, and the most important thing seems to be insuring that the water they have available to them is not frozen. Most farm supply stores sell tank heaters for outdoor water sources, and heated buckets for inside dwellers. Just be sure to do your research on what you buy, especially if you go second-hand, since some older types of bucket heaters may come with a greater fire hazard risk. If it gets cold enough of course, you’ll still need to layer up and troop out to the pasture to break up any ice that may form in a larger tank.
Many people add an electrolyte to their horse’s grain or directly into their water to encourage them to drink, assuming that if Gatorade makes us thirsty, it’ll do the same for their horse. Recently though, both veterinarians and horse owners have been split on whether or not this actually works; electrolytes might simply increase a horse’s need for water, which means any extra drinking is just meeting new requirements. If you do choose to feed ‘lytes, experts agree that the horse should have at least one bucket available to them that is free of any additives.
Soaking hay in water is also a good way to sneak some extra hydration in. It also reduces dust for horses who may be sensitive to that.
We’ve also heard of bribing horses into drinking more. Adding a bit of apple juice to the water works for some horses. Our favorite solution so far? Cutting up an apple and letting the horse go bobbing for his treat.