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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

January 28, 2011

Endurance Blurbs: You can lead a horse to water....

 "I'm amazed how many riders still think 'six swallows.' If you're going to continue on down the trail, let them have their fill. If you've got a very hot horse, as in [one that] has been racing, that's when you offer six swallows, walk a while, then six more, but not out trail riding. And let them eat! Grass has lots of electrolytes in it. On a long ride, give them a chance to replenish."  Angie McGee

 "If your horse won't drink, and you know the next water is far away, then wet your horse down using your hands, your sponge (on a string) or water bottles to cool him," he says. "Water not lost is as good as water taken in." Steve Shaw

"Soak hay before feeding to increase its hydrating capability. One wet-down flake of hay can absorb 1-2 gallons of water. If you feed your horse well-soaked hay, you can make a real impact on his fluid consumption." Ezine Articles

"In the heavily exercising, or heat-exhausted horse, however, this refusal to drink has nothing to do with personality or temperament, and everything to do with physiology." Tufts Cummings School

So why won't your horse drink?  What can you do to get him/her to drink?

Dehydration and Electrolyte Losses in the Sport Horse



  1. I've been blessed with a horse who is a good drinker. He'll stop at every puddle, and I let him! He doesn't care if other horses move on without him. He'll drink his fill. I've taught him a cue to drop his head, which helps with asking him to drink or graze.

  2. This is my big challenge with Dixie. I've taught her to at least look at each puddle or trough, but of course I can't make her drink. I give elytes before a ride, but I'm scared to dose her during a ride - if she's not going to drink, I could be making things worse. On our training trails right now, there are puddles, and she'll look at them. There are a few troughs, but where there are troughs there are cows, and we all know that cows are demonic killers, so drinking there is just right out.

    I really don't know what to do except keep going longer distances and keep offering water at troughs and puddles. :(

  3. Funder,

    (The Planner) yeah, that's me *LOL* So the plan for this season is to work out my electrolyting, hopefully before the summer heat. That may seem like an oxymoron...

    Like you I have given pre-ride electrolytes with mixed results. I'm going to try giving them in multiple fluid laden "micro-doses". So here goes the "plan":

    6 electrolyte syringes

    Load syringes 1-4 with 1/4 dose of electrolyte in a fluid carrier (apple juice, gatoraid, Vitamin water, or whatever yummy substance your horse will look forward to).

    Syringe # 6 will be preloaded with dilute gatoraid (my mare loves it) and that will be the chaser to take with me.

    I figure she will be taking them in with enough fluid (I also carry a full twist cap water bottle for her, if she doesn't voluntarily drink??? I micromanage and try to get that thirst reflex going. She at least gets a good chaser to dilute the sodium and get it moving through her system. Since I'm diluting it every time she is getting it, she shouldn't get an upset tummy.

    So 1 syringe an hour or so pre-ride with a chaser.

    An hour or so into our ride, syringe #2 and another chaser.

    At the vet check #3 and a chaser.

    An hour in again #4 and a chaser.

    Back at camp to finish # 5 and a chaser.

    If she is drinking good, later I'll give her another half dose after she eats.

    It probably sounds like a lot of aggravation, but I'm going to be all about aggravation this year. If we lose an hour? I don't care. I want to work out all the little bugs, and the drinking component is about the most important thing our horses need to do.

    I'd like to talk to a ride vet about giving gatoraid straight to my girl since she likes it so much...~E.G.

  4. a lot of horses I've ridden 50 miles, don't even look at water till after 20 miles, and we can be moving along. I try not to worry about it, and though nothing has ever happened because of it, you sure wish they would just take a darn drink!!!!
    in NZ a favorite trick of theirs in camp is to offer a bucket of water, and offer a bucket of water flavored with Molasses. some of them swear by this, but i couldn't tell you if the horses drank more because of it.
    i'm of the camp: if a horse is thirsty and needs water, he'll drink. I like to electrolyte daily a few days before the ride, and in their feed at the ride, but not during the ride. hopefully they'll get enough water before the ride to be enough - and when they drink on the trail, if it's at 10 or 20 or 30 miles, it's enough.
    - The Equestrian Vagabond