Encouraging Horses to Drink

How can I encourage my horse to drink?

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How Can I Encourage My Horse to Drink?
Make sure your horse always has access to fresh, clean water. | Photo: Thinkstock
Q. How can I encourage my horse to drink?

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A. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink! Thirst is triggered by an increase in the sodium concentration of the blood. Because horses lose a great deal of sodium in their sweat, they may also lose some of their trigger for thirst. Offering electrolytes will help stabilize the horse’s blood electrolyte levels and should help encourage him to drink.

Generally making sure the horse always has access to fresh, clean water helps. Sometimes masking the water with flavoring agents may help if you travel and have different water sources (that may make a finicky horse drink less). You can also offer water mixed in with hay, hay cubes, or other feeds to increase water intake

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Written by:

Shannon Pratt-Phillips, PhD, received her Master of Science from the University of Kentucky and her Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Guelph, focusing on equine nutrition and exercise physiology. Pratt-Phillips joined the faculty at North Carolina State University in 2006, where she currently teaches equine nutrition in the Department of Animal Science. She is the director of the Distance Education Animal Science Programs, which includes the Master of Animal Science program, and her field of research focuses on glucose metabolism, insulin resistance, obesity, and laminitis prevention and management in horses.

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