The importance of water for horses

The horse loses a lot of fluid every day through urine and sweat. This loss must be supplemented with good quality drinking water. Water also helps to keep the body clean and to remove waste products. Therefore, make sure that your horse has unlimited, good quality drinking water available. Water is vital: it is necessary, among other things, to maintain the fluid balance, to transport nutrients and to regulate body temperature.

Amount of water

A horse at rest needs at least 30-35 ml of water per kg of body weight to maintain the water balance. This equates to about 18 to 21 liters for a 600 kg horse. A number of factors that can greatly increase the water requirement are performance, weather conditions and moisture content of the grass and forage. With considerable effort or high temperatures, the water requirement can rise to more than 50 liters per day. When ingesting (moist) grass, the water requirement can actually decrease. Make sure that the automatic drinking water tanks provide sufficient water per minute and that they are kept clean. Horses naturally prefer to drink water from larger surfaces. When the automatic drinker is adjusted too slowly, the motivation to drink can decrease.

Water quality

It is best to give horses tap water. Groundwater is not of sufficient quality to feed your horse, unless the well is deeper than 150 meters. Open water or surface water is (in the Netherlands) very rarely clean enough to use as drinking water. It must be suitable for human consumption, which is generally not the case. It is not uncommon for waste to be discharged into ditches. Water can run off from plots and roads into the ditch, such as motor oil residues, fertilizers, agricultural poisons, etc. “Natural” waste can also pollute the ditch considerably; animal manure, plant remains, sludge, bacteria can cause putrefaction processes that can be life-threatening. In summer, blue-green algae can be present and affect the liver and kidneys. If you nevertheless want to use surface or groundwater as a water source, always have it tested in the laboratory. This is a snapshot, so such tests will need to be repeated regularly. The drinking water is only suitable for your horse if it is also suitable for human use. For possibilities to detoxify the body, you can Contact one of our veterinarians.

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