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winter hydration for horses

Winter hydration for horses

02 January 2024

When the weather turns cold, horses are less inclined to drink. Coupled with sudden changes in management, such as more time spent stabled or eating more hay, this can increase the risk of impaction colic.

Ensure that exercise is part of your daily routine for stabled horses. Walking out in hand helps to keep the gut moving, reducing the risk of impaction and generating warmth in the process. There's plenty we can do to encourage our horses to drink too...

  • Ensure water is readily available. An obvious one perhaps but water freezes quickly in cold weather and needs checking regularly. Have your ice breaking kit to hand: a hammer to break up the ice and a colander to scoop out the pieces out are ideal as leaving the ice in there will only help the water freeze over again faster.
  • Offer feeds as a warm mash. We always recommend soaking our pelleted forages to restore hydration, aid digestion and reduce the risk of choke. Using warm water instead of cold will speed up your soaking time as well as provide a warm mash feed for your horse.
  • Choose feeds that soak up plenty of water. PuraBeet is an ideal choice for adding hydration as it soaks up to 5 times its volume of water. Lucie Nuts, Blue Bag Grass Pellets and HayCare are also good options - soaking up to 2.5 times their volume of water.
  • Provide a bucket of warm (not hot) water. Horses typically do not enjoy drinking very cold water. They prefer their water to be nearer 20 degrees than freezing. If you feel your horse is not drinking as well as you would like, you can take the chill off the water by adding some boiling water from a flask.
  • Position stable water buckets against an internal wall, rather than an outside one. They are less likely to freeze in sub-zero temperatures. 
  • When feeding hay in the field it can help if the hay is not too far from the water trough. We do not want our horses to become too thirsty before they decide to trek to the water source.  When the weather is vile, horses will tend to congregate in the more sheltered part of the field, which may not ne near the hay or the water. It is worth taking some time to observe your horse's behaviour in poorer conditions to see where they are sheltering. You may need to make changes. 

Cold weather greatly increases the horse's requirements. Be prepared to watch the weather forecast and put extra feed on to soak if necessary.

If you'd like to discuss your horse's needs, our Feed Line nutrition team will be happy to help. You can reach them on 01728 604 008, by email to info@simplesystem.co.uk or by completing our online form.


Featured Products

Premium 6mm high fibre grass pellets, providing all the benefits of summer grass, all year round.


Premium high fibre quick-soaking Timothy grass for horses and ponies unable to eat hay.


Premium 12mm lucerne nuts, naturally high in calcium & protein to support muscles & bones.


Unmolassed beetpulp pellets - a source of high quality digestible fibre, with no added sugar.


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