The UK Rules
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Watering Horses

Rules of Watering Horses

There may be no equine commandments or official written rules of watering horses because different sized animals crave and require different amounts of watery fluids.

RULES OF WATERING A HORSE: On average, horses drink up to 25 gallons per day so healthy equines need fresh safe drinking water daily and in large quantities.

10 Safe Rules of Watering a Horse

If you are teaching (or learning) proper horse care and stable management, following these ten top tips and points of safe rules of watering horses and ponies are certain to make your equine healthier and happier.

1. Water Quality

The first and most basic rule of watering horses is to provide them with constant access to clean, fresh water at all times including pastures and stall. Typically, this means every day of every month whether they are in their regular stable or away from home.

Drinking fluids helps equines stay hydrated and healthy because water assists digestion of their food.

Standing water soon becomes unpalatable so you should change it at least two times each day. Remember that leaf litter makes potted water very dirty and un-drinkable extremely quickly.

In the hot months standing water becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other pests which may cause diseases.

2. Natural Water Sources

10 Rules for Watering Horses - GuideIf your horse or pony drinks from a running stream you should check their footing. Horses can get stuck in the mud if it is extremely deep so a better solution is supplying them with buckets or troughs.

Remember the stream needs to be flowing because stagnant water is dangerous for your horse's health so section them away from streams which are not running.

Despite not having to clean out a local stream as often as your buckets, you may need to remove human garbage and dead organic matter on a regular basis.

Removing large branches and tree limbs will also lower the risk of your horse or pony getting stuck.

Standing in a babbling brook can be good for your horse's feet but you should only allow it in small doses because soaking for too long actually softens their feet.

You should be familiar with flooding and extreme storm procedures so make sure your riding rings, pastures, and stalls are well drained.

3. Water Quantity

As a rule, the daily amount of water that a horse or pony will drink depends on its breed, size, age, and other special requirements but generally somewhere between 10 and 25 gallons is not uncommon. This could mean watering your horse before feeding at least 6 times a day in the summer and 3 times a day through the winter months.

Drinking too little water puts your horse at serious risk of colic and laminitis.

Water quantity rises during hot weather and drops during cold weather, especially if it is not kept warm enough (thawed). You can encourage animals to drink more fluids in winter months by feeding horses with salty food. Soaked beet pulp contains high levels of salt which helps to trigger their thirst mechanism.

Horse Feed Affects Water Consumption

4. Water Containers

All water containers should be kept clean and hygienic making sure that green algae does not develop on your buckets, troughs or automatic watering systems by cleaning them regularly using a scrubbing brush. Using a hose system to fill up the water troughs means there is no need to carry buckets but ensure the float system works properly.

If you use buckets, make sure they are tightly secured so the horse cannot knock them over or get his feet and hoofs caught in the handles. Beware that heated buckets need to be insulated and electrical cords need to be secured far away from the reach of horses and ponies to prevent electrocution.

5. Water Temperature

Providing them with ambient water temperatures above 85° F will increase a horse's drinking frequency and volume. Colder temperatures (below 45°F) reduces their water consumption, as a rule. Frozen ice blocks tend to numb their tongue so they often refuse 'chewing' icy water. Offer them slightly warm water in winter and also to horses who are hot and tired.

6. Drinking in a Natural Position

Horses should be encouraged to drink their water with its head and neck in a natural way. This means placing their trough or container at a normal head height or slightly lower. Forcing equine to drink water in an unnatural position can lead to choking and respiratory problems.

7. Horse Dehydration Problems

Physical activity performed or illness can affect the amount of water a horse or pony needs. Horses will sometimes become dehydrated due to heavy sweating. Their body salts should be replaced by adding electrolytes to their water or food.

Sick horses with excessive water losses such as from diarrhea require more water per day. Breeding stallions, and pregnant or lactating mares require 50-80% more water per day for milk production compared to horses at maintenance.

Performance horses should be allowed to drink water prior to and during prolonged activity and then allowed to cool down adequately prior to free-choice drinking after exercise.

8. Bathing Horses

As a rule start at the front feet and work up slowly when you are giving your horse a bath. Make sure the temperature of the water is not burning hot or freezing cold and never use water as a punishment in any way.

9. Riding a Horse in Water

As a rule you should not ride a horse in water unless you can see the bottom.

10. Reducing a Horse's Water Intake

Horses should be discouraged from drinking copious amounts of water after a hard workout. Instead, dismount and loosen your girth (or remove the saddle) and give your horse a relatively small drink before finishing un-tacking.

If you walk him to cool him down he should have stopped blowing, panting, and puffing. Hose or sponge the sweat off if it was a particularly tough work out. Once he is breathing normally you can put him in his stable or the field and allow him the normal access to his water supplies.

Horse Owners Also Asked...

What are Safety Rules for Riding a Horse on the Road?
There are more than 3 million regular horse riders in the United Kingdom. You can add almost 1 million horses to the equation according to the British Horse Society. That means most drivers are likely to encounter horses in the road sooner or later.

How to Use Highway Code Equestrian Crossings?
Equestrian crossings are used by horse riders. The main difference is wider crossing spaces and pavement barriers. Most equestrian crossings also have horse and rider images in the light boxes and higher control panels.

10 Rules of Watering Horses