As the temperature drops, the water that you give to your horse is likely to freeze over. What is the best way to look after your water in this cold weather?
Now, horses may reduce their intake of water during the colder weather. If this is combined with a larger intake of food (such as hay), it can result in colic. To avoid this, try to slightly warm your horse’s water up so it encourages them to drink more. The ideal temperature for the water is between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit (as studies have shown that horses will drink much more if the water is between these temperatures) with all ice crystals removed. Also, try to check the water twice a day to make sure it is suitable for your horse to drink as they tend to get through eight to twelve gallons a day.
Another prevention option you can try is to put either a basketball or football in it as this stops the water from freezing over completely. Also, put the trough in the sunniest part of the field (if possible) so the sun can melt any ice that may appear. You can also put a bank of dirt around the trough/bucket to help try and insulate it. If the weather really is bad, you can put plywood over the top (leaving a small gap to drink through).
It may be that you need to buy a water heater. You will have to bear in mind the fact that if you use automatic bowls, heated water buckets or float heaters, you will have to check the heater is not shocking the water. Also, make sure there is plenty of room between the water trough/bucket and fences especially if there is more than one horse sharing it as there can be some scuffle around it and horses may be pushed through fences.
Finally, there is a common belief that horses can ‘get by’ on snow. This may have some truth in it however, horses need lots of hydration to help to digest dry food. By making your horse eat snow to produce moisture can often defeat the object as your horses would have to eat SIX TIMES the amount of snow to provide an equal amount of water. Another thing to consider is that the energy that is used for eating the snow, should be being conserved for keeping warm.
So, bear these tips in mind over the coming months to make sure your horse is happy and hydrated!
The Stable Doctor
Advice is given without legal responsibility
Researched: American Alps Ranch, Gaited Horses