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Encouraging Your Horse to Drink

By Jennifer Roberts

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 when your horse decides that they are no longer thirsty?

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, it’s important to 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, its best to 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 alfalfa cubes. 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 the apple cider vinegar! Try a variety of flavors to see what your horse prefers.

One last thing to remember, as you monitor your horse’s water intake is proverbial “what goes in, must come out.” Eventually, the majority of the water your horse consumes will exit the body in the form of sweat and urine. Sweat is easy to handle, but urine requires additional considerations.

Urine in your horse’s stall, run-in shed and paddock creates ammonia. Ammonia is a health risk to your animals. The accumulation of ammonia in horse stalls, barns, and paddocks is more than an odor nuisance; studies have concluded that low levels of ammonia stress a horse’s upper respiratory airways placing them at risk of pneumonia, heaves, and other serious illnesses.

Using a stall refresher, such as Sweet PDZ, will absorb and neutralize ammonia and other odors while providing fresh and safe air for your horse in its stall. Stall refreshers are far superior to lime products in terms of ammonia and moisture reduction.

Don’t become lax about your horse’s water intake. While it may seem simple, the lack of water in your horse’s diet can have horrid consequences.

Sweet PDZ ( has been keeping stalls healthy for over 34 years and continues to be the leading horse stall freshener on the market. This organic (OMRI Listed), non-toxic mineral captures, neutralizes and eliminates harmful levels of ammonia and odors. Sweet PDZ is a far superior alternative to lime products for ammonia removal and moisture absorption. For more information, or to find a retailer near you, please call us at 1-800-367-1534.

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About Hope Legacy Equine Rescue

Hope’s Legacy Equine Rescue was founded in 2008 when we took in our first donkey. Since then they have taken in over 450 horses, ponies, mules, and donkeys.

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