Getting your horse to drink

Hi All!

I’m a summer intern at The Chronicle of the Horse and currently trying to write a piece on horse hydration.

I was at a show last week and despite the crazy heat and my best efforts, I could not convince the horse I was tending to drink!

Does anyone have any tips for getting horses to drink?


Michelle :slight_smile:

Half a flake of Standlee compressed alfalfa in a bucket of water.

Handful of senior feed in a bucket of warm water (cooler weather). Lemon lime powdered Gatorade (warmer weather). A scoop or two of Gatorade in an 8 qt bucket and my horse will drink it all in one go.

When my Melly was so sick and not drinking [and we were thinking poison so wanted to flush, flush, flush] I made him Alfalfa tea.
Since it was really REALLY hot and humid I made it with cold water, but in winter I’ve made it for Yo with warm water.

It’s basically a few alfalfa cubes soaked [until the cubes completely break up] in a gallon or more of water… the water turns a light green, and they seem to love it.
In Mellys case, because I wanted to monitor how much he was drinking, I specifically made it in one gallon batches, so I could then track how many gallons of fluid he was getting orally.

Thank you for the tips!

Would you like your first name to go in the piece? If so could you let me know what it is?

Thank you!

I have added - juice or Gatorade or even beer. Also soaked hay/hay cubes and sloppy beet pulp. Jello powder also works.

When it’s really hot out we will soak all the feed and add electrolytes to the grain. I too have added Gatorade to the water but we’ve also put some cut up apples in so the horses will ‘bob’ for them. To be honest, it’s be so hot and humid that the horses are fortunately drinking more!

I also saw earlier this summer a lot of Facebook posts with homemade horse ‘popsicles.’ A friend of mine use a big plastic cup and filled it with water and put in cut up apples and carrots, then froze it solid. She cut the cup off (or pulled it off in some cases) and then put it out for the horses to lick at. I’m sure not all horses would be up to this though but I think mine would enjoy - I just never remembered to do it!

I float horse cookies (apples would work, too) on the surface of the water! Pony drinks the water level down (I use the little 2 gallon buckets) until the treat isn’t floating anymore and she can grab it.

It works with warm water in the winter as well.

My horse won’t go for any of these methods on show day; I’ve tried them all. The best thing for my gelding is to increase the salt I put in his feed. It makes him thirsty enough to drink when showing.

I really like Smartpak’s SmartLytes. Horse eats them up no problem (he did not care for 1 oz. of salt in his grain) and it does increase how much he drinks.

I make mine “soup”- beep pulp shreds, alfalfa pellets, dried mint leaves and sometimes chamomile flowers, soaked in water until its soupy. They slurp it up. :slight_smile: Served warm in winter and cool in summer.

Quencher!!! I can’t rave about it enough. When my horse was recovering from colic surgery at Rood and Riddle they gave it to him to encourage him to drink. I always keep some in my trailer and have not met a horse yet that would not drink it. I will also give my horse some soaked alfalfa cubes. I put a handful of pellets in a gallon pitcher, fill it with water, let soak for 15 minutes, and let my horse go to town. I figure that’s an easy way to get an extra gallon of water into him.

I posted this in response to your FB post, but figured I’d share here in case it’s helpful to anyone.

My boy has a tendency to stop drinking when the weather gets very hot or very windy, and he’s colicked several times as a result.

After the last colic a few years ago, I started putting an inch of apple juice in a small bucket and filling it with water, then giving it to him after every ride as a treat. I always use the same red bucket and that color bucket is never used for anything else.

Now, he starts to lick his lips whenever he sees the bucket and if he stops drinking, I know he’ll always drink the apple juice water from that bucket. No more colics, touch wood!

Coca cola
apple juice
apple cider
Grain tea with pellets from my horses’ favorite feed.
Hay soaked in water.

my friend puts a layer of molasses on the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket and then fills it with water. It works.

Horse Quencher works, but if you have a sneaky horse like mine, he’ll dump the water out when you’re not looking and just munch on the grains at the bottom. :lol:

Tried Gatorade mixed in at my last show and he snubbed it. @Angela, I’ll have to try the alfalfa “tea!” My guy gets soaked alfalfa cubes every day and LOVES them, so I’ll try that at our next show.

If you try to get mine to drink out of a regular water bucket, forget it. BUT if you give them water in a small tack cleaning bucket (the kind their dinner is delivered in), they dive right in.

Coca cola
apple juice
apple cider
Grain tea with pellets from my horses’ favorite feed.
Hay soaked in water.

my friend puts a layer of molasses on the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket and then fills it with water. It works.[/QUOTE]

If you are at a recognized show, use something other than Coca cola, unless it’s the caffeine free kind. Caffeine will test.

If your horse doesn’t like Gatorade powder, they might like

There’s also a lower sugar option. I try to reserve that for myself, though!

One of ours used to love a can of organic sparkling tangerine juice poured into a bucket of water.