An example of a drinking post.

An example of a Drinking Post.

If you’re hot, your horses probably are too. Keeping your horses hydrated is extremely important. Preventing dehydration in horses can be a challenge, but there are many ways to encourage and control horses’ water intake in the hot and even cold months.

Horses’ bodies can handle a lack of water for a decent amount of time. Dehydration from water restrictions can, however, rapidly become serious and fatal. There are a few signs to look for to determine if your horse is dehydrated:

  • elevated heart rate
  • changes in feel and colour of gums
  • decreased skin elasticity
  • dry skin and mouth

These signs appear when the horse is an estimated four to six per cent dehydrated. Sunken eyes and a “tucked-up” looking abdomen are more serious and severe signs of a horse about eight to ten per cent dehydrated.

There are many impacts that occur as a result of dehydration. Specifically, it is one of the leading causes for impact colic in horses.

In other words, horses essentially become constipated due to lack of water in their system. Typically the length of time needed for a horse to become dehydrated depends on factors such as diet, workout, lactation, pregnancy and age. But on average, horses should be consuming one gallon per 100lbs of body weight per day. In the winter, this number is almost doubled. Having a constant and easily accessible water source is ideal in order for the horses to maintain a stable well-being.

Drinking Post installation instructions.

Drinking Post installation instructions.

Dehydration can occur in horses throughout the winter months as well. Horses need constant access to at least 10 degree C water in both the extreme cold and hot seasons which can become difficult. System Fencing, however, carries numerous products in our Outdoor Solutions section that can help prevent dehydration in any season.

One of our most popular and efficient products is the Drinking Post. This product operates similarly to a frost-free hydrant post and requires very little to no maintenance. The horses simply push on the paddle inside the post and the bowl automatically fills up with water in seconds. As they release the paddle, the water drains back into the ground water below the frost line, eliminating waste and excess water. There is also significant cost savings for this product as no hydro is required for it to operate. Also, since there is no stagnant water, algae growth is extremely minimal and mosquitoes are unable to gather and multiply.

A significant advantage to this product is that there is no need for an electrical heater in the winter, therefore, diminishing the issue of electric shock or fires. But because of its unique design, the Drinking Post remains at a comfortable temperature of 10 degrees C. It has been proven that horses consume 40 per cent more water at this temperature while further encouraging water consumption. In a small amount of cases, getting the horses to become comfortable using it could be difficult and sometimes it may take horses longer to approach and consume from the Drinking Post. But these smart creatures will learn and adapt to it with the proper guidance and an appropriate amount of time and patience.

A foal takes a drink from a Nelson Waterer.

A foal takes a drink from a Nelson Waterer.

The Nelson Waterers are also a great source to prevent heat stress and dehydration. They are made of aluminum or stainless steel and with the easily removable bowl, cleaning is simple and it provides horses with a constant supply of fresh water. The drinking bowl balances against a weight and as the animals drain the bowl, it causes an off balance, which pushes water up to refill the bowl. This reduces stagnate water and requires very little maintenance while providing your horses with a constant, on-demand supply of fresh water. For those cold winter seasons, an electric heater is included with the waterer. These heaters are 250W or 300W and help keep energy costs low. This is because only a small amount of water needs to be heated at a time and there is also a pre- set thermostat that switches the heater on when only necessary.

In addition, Stock tank waterers have been hydrating various animals for countless years now. These can be either plastic or galvanized steel stock tanks; both can hold a significant amount of water and are extremely durable. However, there is more required maintenance and labour for this type of waterer. To prevent stagnant water in the summer months, an additional filter is available to keep water constantly moving which as a result, encourages more water consumption. Preventing stagnant water is important in these humid months because it reduces algae growth and is also uninviting to mosquitoes. Lastly, horses can get just as dehydrated in the winter as they do in the summer and stock tanks can become completely frozen in the colder months. In order to prevent this, adding a de-icer inside the tank will also help keep a fresh, constant supply of water available to help prevent dehydration in horses.

A hydrated horse is a healthy horse and System Fencing has an abundance of products, knowledge and experience to provide you with services tailored to your pasture and animals. Keep your happy horses hydrated this year!

To read more about preventing dehydration and other health issues related to lack of water, check out the University of Guelph’s Equine Management program website. Learn about Electrolytes and Heat Stress as well.