5 Tips for Keeping Your Horse Happy and Hydrated While Traveling
by Kristi Waterworth, writer for the guest blog from Double D Trailers
Horse travel is all fun and games until somebody gets a little dehydrated -- then you’ve got an emergency on your hands. Horses can be difficult to keep hydrated on long spring and summer trips, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try your very best to get them drinking. Next time you’re planning an equine adventure, keep these tips for hydrating your horse close at hand:
Bring your own water supply. Depending on how many horses you’re bringing and how long you’ll be gone, it’s possible to bring your own water from home to keep your horses hydrated. They’ll be much happier drinking the water they’re used to and will be less likely to refuse it. An average 1,100 pound horse will need about 6 1/2 gallons of water each day when the temperature’s at 50 degrees Fahrenheit. They’ll need more water the warmer it gets and make sure to pack extra if they’ll be trail riding or performing.
Mask the taste of foreign water. Most horse trailers don’t have enough storage for more than a few days worth of water from home, so that means that some horses are going to have to learn how to drink unfamiliar water. Unfortunately, the quality, flavor and taste of water can vary dramatically from place to place, so your best bet is to mask the taste of unknown water with gatorade, apple juice or molasses. Start a week or so before you intend to leave by mixing the flavorant into your horse’s regular water, that way he’ll be ready and willing to drink it on the road.
Feed wet food. There’s plenty of water in food, if you plan it right. A traveling horse should get water from every bit of his food when the weather’s hot, soaking hay and compressed pellets in water for up to 20 minutes before feeding can give him an extra source of water. One flake of hay can absorb up to two gallons of water, so this is a great way to trick your horse into drinking foreign water, even if he refuses it straight. If you feed a mash or grain product, you can also make it into a porridge with extra water.
Adding a dash of salt. Top dressing a horse’s feed with salt can help increase their thirst and get them to drink when nothing else will. A horse won’t always use a salt lick on the go, but he can’t dodge the salt you’ve put on his grain ration. Make sure not to give him too much, though, you’ll need to experiment to get the amount of top dressing just right.
Increasing the ventilation inside your trailer. This one’s a little trickier, but it’s probably the most vital of all the things you can do to keep your horse hydrated. A well-ventilated trailer helps keep your horses cool, reducing their need to sweat and keeping them from dehydrating. If your trailer simply doesn’t have enough vents and opening windows to keep the air moving, you may need to consider looking at horse trailers for sale or make major modifications to your current trailer. Thick wall and roof insulation can also go a long way to keeping the outside heat from moving inside the horse compartment.
These tips, along with stopping every three or four hours to give your horses a chance to have a big drink will help you reduce the stress of travel for your horse. When he’s fully hydrated and comfortable, he’s a happier, healthier horse who’s ready to perform at his very best.