July 02, 2021

Understanding the Water Requirements of Your Horse

By Alyssa Currie
Understanding the Water Requirements of Your Horse

Water is integral to your horses' body in order for them to perform essential body functions including digestion and thermo-regulation. Especially with the hot summer weather coming up, it’s important to ensure horses have access to water at all times.

As horse owners, we know that we must provide free-choice water to horses at all times. It is also just as important that the water provided is good quality, clean, and palatable. A typical 1,100-pound horse at maintenance will consume four to nine gallons of water per day. This amount can vary due to a few factors:

1. The type of feed being consumed.

For example, fresh pasture can have a moisture content anywhere between 60% to 80% which will greatly contribute to their water intake. Hay and grain are very low moisture foraging options and horses will often have to consume more water to maintain adequate water intake. Higher volumes of protein consumption, as well as salt can increase the need for water as well.

2. Ambient Temperature and Humidity.

This is a fairly straightforward one. Ambient temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius will often encourage your horse to drink more water. Temperatures below 7 degrees Celsius can reduce overall water consumption for horses. Don't be afraid to add an electrolyte or salt to water during summertime, or (as we'll discuss further below) during certain types of physical activity that your horse participates in.

3. Physiological Stage

The type of physical activity that your horse engages in will influence their water consumption. Performance horses should be allowed to drink water prior to, and during prolonged activity. It is recommended to provide water post work out for horses only after they have been cooled down adequately. Also, lactating mares require between 50-80% more water per day for milk production versus a horse who is in maintenance. During the hot summer months (and especially during summer shows) adding an electrolyte or salt to your horse's water can ensure adequate water intake and aid in overall recovery.

With summer in full swing, make sure that both you and your horse are staying hydrated!