Senior mare not drinking in the winter

Hello - I have a 22 year old mare who has poor teeth so is fed a mash year round. In the warmer months she drinks a small amount in addition to her wet food but in the winter she tends to slow down or even stop drinking all together. Between her two feedings I think she’s getting about 6-8 gallons of water per day. My question is: should I be concerned about this?? She seems happy and healthy otherwise (normal poos, normal skin tent test).

Some stuff to note:
-She’s Insulin Resistance, so cannot have any additional sugar
-She’s a normal size QH (about 1000 lbs)
-We live in Vermont where it gets pretty chilly (and I do all her care)
-No other horses have access to her food/water
-She will not eat her food if it’s a soup :frowning_face:

Things I have tried to get her to drink more:
-Heated water bucket
-Not heated water bucket
-Alfalfa tea
-Adding a handful of grain to her water bucket
-Adding peppermint extract and sweetening with Stevia
-Blanketing heavy

The only thing that got her to drink once was the alfalfa tea, but after a day she stopped again.

Any thoughts???

Maybe add a bit of additional salt to her wet food?

If you put feed into her water bucket it gets foul very quickly. She should have access to warmed water all Winter. I put my heated tubs on a timer so they come on every so often but don’t run 24/7 ( unless it is really, really cold). That way the water isn’t too warm as some get picky about that too.

If she gets no hay what about trying a chopped hay? If she can eat that it may help her drink more. My horses drink more water when they get more hay in Winter and the grass is dormant.


Generally I think if her hydration status is ok, don’t stress yourself out. Check her gum tackiness, capillary refill time, and skin pinch periodicly in addition to monitoring manure. If they are all fine, she is probably getting enough.

I’m pulling my hair out with a horse not drinking well due to stray voltage. That probably isn’t your problem, but it is something to keep in mind because it will really put them off water even when the water has no voltage in it.


Definitely add a tablespoon of salt to each of her mash/meals.

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I’m also on the “if she’s hydrated don’t worry too much” bandwagon. If her skin pinch and capillary refill time are within her normal, then she’s getting enough. It won’t hurt to offer her loose salt or a salt lick.

Mine developed a thing a few years ago about not drinking from a bucket. No idea why. He will down half a bucket of water in 105 degrees and yes, he’s on electrolytes. But he loves his water trough in the field and stays hydrated, so my vet said to just call him weird and not worry about it.


Yes mine like the outside water best too. Both stalls and outside bucket are dumped and refilled daily. Both indoor buckets and outdoor tub (muck tub) are plastic. I have no idea why.

I agree that if every health check indicates that she is adequately hydrated, then don’t worry about it!

6-8 gallons/day is within the normal range for water consumption by an adult horse. If she’s hydrated, then I wouldn’t worry too much about her not drinking much additional water in cool weather. You can try adding salt to her feed to encourage her to drink more, but that may turn her off her feed.