During winter – even in South Africa, with our mild winters – many horses will start to reduce the amount of water they drink, due to the colder temperatures. However, hydration is important for optimal body function, and if a horse becomes dehydrated, it can compromise vital functions.
The amount of water needed by each individual horse depends on the amount of work being done, the horse’s age and diet, and whether or not the horse is pregnant or producing milk. Failure to maintain the fluid levels necessary for each individual can lead to illness or even death. In this article, we look at some ways you can encourage your horse to consume more water.
WHY HORSES NEED WATER
The horse’s body is made up of approximately 65-70% water. The actual amount varies from horse to horse, depending on his age, health status, nutrition and body condition score.
The reason water is so vital is that it makes up a large proportion of the blood that circulates in the body. It is also found around cells throughout the body, and is involved in the majority of processes that are essential for life. For example, in the horse, up to 6% of the total amount of water in his body is found in the intestines, and is used to help move food through the gut, most of which is then reabsorbed in the large intestine, where digestion is completed.
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