How Much Water Does A Horse Drink In Hot Weather

How much water does a horse drink in hot weather? Since I work with horses, I get asked this question frequently. Horses are picky about the quality of their water, so I want to give my equines the best-tasting drinking water possible. But how much water do horses need? From what sources do horses drink? How can I make sure my horses always have fresh, clean drinking water from naturally occurring springs and streams? And what if there aren’t any creeks or lakes nearby where my horses could safely drink?

The horse’s most vital nutrient is water. An adult horse’s body is composed of roughly 70 percent water, which equates to 770 pounds or 96 gallons of water for the average 1,100-pound horse. Foals’ bodies have even higher water content, roughly 80 percent, and on a weight-to-weight basis, small horses consume more water than large horses.

A horse’s daily water requirements are influenced by age; body condition; the amount, type and quality of feed consumed; fitness level; and activity level. Add to that the temperature, as well as the freshness, purity and palatability of the available water and it becomes obvious that there are a number of factors that influence water consumption. Because fat is low in water content compared to lean muscle, fat horses typically require less water than horses maintained at optimal body condition.

As a general rule, water intake is proportional to dry-matter intake, but the composition and digestibility of the feed is also a factor. Horses consuming all-hay diets drink more water than horses fed a grain diet coupled with hay or a complete pelleted diet.

Horses on good-quality pastures, which can be 65 to 80 percent water, will consume less drinking water compared to horses on hay and grain because a large percentage of their water needs are met by the moisture in the grass. That is why idle horses might actually consume less water in the summer than in the winter when they are stalled and on a hay-based diet. Their total water intake may be identical during both seasons, but just coming from different sources.

We all know that salt consumption increases thirst, but feed protein intake above the horse’s requirement increases both water intake and urinary output, as the horse voids excess nitrogen via urine.

An idle, 1,100-pound horse in a cool environment will drink 6 to 10 gallons of water per day. That amount may increase to 15 gallons per day in a hot environment. Work horses require 10-18 gallons of water per day on average but could require much more in hot weather. Nursing mares drink more water because of fluid loss associated with milk production and increased consumption of feed to support milk production. An 1,100-pound nursing mare can easily drink up to 20 gallons of water per day. Foals also have higher water requirements and will drink 6 to 8 gallons of water per day even in relatively cool weather.

If you have horses, chances are you’ve wondered about how much water does a horse drink in hot weather? I know that I have. After all, there’s nothing worse than seeing your horse suffering from dehydration, exhaustion, and sun stroke. In the end, it’s up to the owner to make sure their horse is getting enough water and shade.

Why does a horse need so much water?

There are two main reasons why horses need so much water. Horses have a digestive system that requires lots of clean fresh water in order to function properly. Their naturally high fibre diet (grass, hay etc.) requires high levels of water to help keep the fibre moving through the digestive system. If horses have restricted access to water or have only poor quality water and do not drink enough they are at risk of impaction colic (where fibre blocks the digestive system). Colic (in its various forms) can be a very serious condition in horses. Impaction colic needs immediate veterinary attention.

Horses are one of the few animals (including humans) that rely on sweating to cool themselves down. This requires lots of water so when horses are working hard it is especially important that they do not have their access to water restricted or the horse will become dehydrated. It is an outdated myth that you should withhold water from horses after work. If a horse has just completed very fast work (i.e. finished a race) they should be allowed to drink, then be walked for a few minutes, then be allowed to drink again. This procedure should be carried on until the horse has drunk its fill and the heart rate has returned to normal. The sport of endurance racing has proved that to withhold water from horses is dangerous. Horses taking part in endurance races or long trail rides should be allowed to drink throughout the day.

Conclusion

This equine knowledge is important to know, especially if you own a horse. If you do own a horse, you will want to take in water for it as much as possible during hot temperatures! Now the question becomes “How much water does a horse drink in hot weather?” As stated earlier in this article, a horse’s temperature can rise or fall close to ten degrees F when it drinks large amounts of water. Let’s hope your horse doesn’t go overboard with quenching its thirst during the hot weather.

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