The Importance of Clean Water

Would you drink dirty water? Water that had algae, mud, maybe even feces in it? Would you be able to put it to your mouth and swallow?

I would, if it was a matter of survival. Chances are, if it was a matter of life or death, you would too. If that was the only water available and the choice was to drink that water or die, I am betting there are not many people who wouldn’t take at least a sip. But, would you drink your fill of that dirty, nasty water? Would you drink deeply so that your thirst was satisfied and your body was hydrated, all the way down to a cellular level? Probably not. And neither would your horse.

We all know that water is the most important nutrient that any animal can have. It is essential for almost every function, from digestion and respiration, to reproduction and lactation. But what we may often forget is that even though our animals have access to water, that doesn’t mean they are well hydrated. If their water is teeming with algae or full of mud or excrement, chances are that they are choosing not to drink as much as they could.  In the winter, if it is too cold or even frozen over, horses will have lowered intake as well.

A horse that is not well hydrated can run into a myriad of problems, not the least of which can be impactions that can lead to colic. Veterinarians will tell you that winter is prime-time for colic episodes that are directly related to lack of water. This is why it is important to monitor your horse’s water intake and make sure they are getting their fill on a daily basis.

The bare minimum amount of water that a horse needs on a daily basis is 0.5 to 1 gallon for every 100 lbs. of weight in a maintenance environment with a temperate climate. Add in performance demands, lactation, hot weather, humidity, etc. and the demand for water increases significantly. Your best bet? Keeping free choice clean cool water available at all times.

But how do you know if your water supply is up to snuff? There is a pretty easy test to tell. Ask yourself these questions as you stand at your horses’ pond, water trough or bucket:

  • Is it the right temprature? (between 45 – 65 degrees farenheit is preferred)
  • Is it fresh?
  • Is it clean?
  • Is it abundant?
    Would I want to drink it?

If you can answer “yes” to these questions, then you are providing a good water source that your horse should be happy to drink their fill from.

Take this “water quality quiz” today, and then take it again in the middle of winter, when the way you supply water to your horse may be entirely different. Because no matter what the season, water is key to a healthy, active horse.

 

5 thoughts on “The Importance of Clean Water

  1. i took 2 horses to a training facility this spring, and because it was so close to home i visited quite often. i found that when i turned the horses loose in the arena to roll and play that after they wanted to drink, one eat snow and the other drank the brown crap in the bottom of the pen. their droppings were matt, not shiny, they looked a bit gant and not the normal amount of saliva when being ridden with a bit. the owners of the property told me they watered every day, regardless of the weather conditions. each time i visited i took 7 gals. of water and oats-beetpulp mix. when i offered both water and food at the same time they drank the water first, eat their treat and i went for another 7 gals. of water, they drank that as well. the owner still claimed that he was watering the horses. when i poured the water, all the horses from other pens came running. the first i saw water available was the 5 of may. i brought the horses at the end of march. they looked me right in the eye and lied their faces off. i will NEVER recommend these people to anybody or use them ever again, they lost winter board with me. these peole claim to be professional. liers, just plain liers. PS they were poor trainers and only rode a few days a week. they lied about that as well. i hooked the chains on the gate in weired ways and checked each time i came to see if the chains were the way i left them, thats how i knew how often they took the horses out of the pens.

    • Hello Louise, Thanks for sharing your experience! This is an excellent reminder to keep an eye on the care our horses receive when they are out of our immediate care. Thanks!

  2. HI ,I DONT HAVE A COMMENT JUST WANTED TO KNOW IF YOU CAN HELP ME. WE BOARD OUR HORSE, A WEEK AGO ONE OF THE BOARDER TOLD MY DAUGHTER THAT THEY DID NOT GIVE HER HORSE WATER FOR THREE DAYS. THE ONLY WATER THE HORSE GOT WAS OUT OF A LITTLE BUCKET. THEY HAVE THOSE WATER BOWLS THAT FILL UP ON THERE OWN. AND IT WAS BROKE. MY DAUGHTER AND I WE WERE SICK WITH A NASTY FLU FOR SIX DAYS, SO WE DID NOT GET OUT THERE, BUT NOW THE HORSE IS NOT EATING AND SHE IS GETTING THIN. CAN HER NOT EATING BE THE RESULT OF NOT HAVING WATER? SHE WAS HEALTY UNTIL THE WATER PROBLEM. IF THERE IS ANYWAY YOU CAN HELP WITH THIS. THEN I CAN GO FROM THE ANSWER.
    I WANT TO THANK YOU
    VICKY GONZALES

    • Hello Vicky, In a situation such as this, we strongly suggest involving your local veterinarian as soon as possible.
      Thank you ~ Roy J.

  3. I put Organic Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar in my horses water all year. It has naturally occurring bacteria that helps keep the water fresher longer, especially in the winter when I can’t change it and wash the tank as often. I still add fresh water every day in the winter and use a mesh pool skimmer net to scoop out any hay, feed or debris that may have gotten in their tank.
    In the summer they get fresh water morning and evening and the tub is scrubbed every other day with a plant based dish soap. :)) Having lost one horse to colic 35 years ago I am very conscientious of the whole fresh water “thing”

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