Archive for June, 2014

Keeping Horses Cool In The Summer

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

HorseAndCatInBarnCool as a cucumber … but what if you are a horse? Summer heat and humidity can be a dangerous combination for active horses. “Heat and humidity affect the horse, and with intense exercising, the excess heat has difficulty dissipating,” notes Dr. Glennon Mays, clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “Heat is a normal by-product of working muscles and increases during periods of increased exercise,” explains Mays.  “Normally a horse cools itself by sweating which causes heat loss and thus its body cools as sweat evaporates from the skin’s surface.”

When humidity is high, less moisture can evaporate from the skin surface.  Therefore the surface blood vessels will enlarge to help rid the horse’s body of excess heat. “Overheating, or hyperthermia in the horse is due to a disturbance in the heat regulating mechanism of the horse’s body,” says Mays.  “In addition to summer heat and humidity, poor stable ventilation, prolonged exposure to sun, extreme exercise, transportation/trailering stress, as well as excess weight and poor conditioning may contribute to overheating.”

“If your horse does become overheated, move the horse to a shady area or to a cool, well-ventilated barn.  Then spray with cool water and place ice packs on the horse’s head and large blood vessels on the neck and the inside of its legs,” states Mays.  “Be careful to not spray the horse’s face or get water in its ears; just sponge these areas gently.”

Horses naturally tend to “cool out” while walking rather than standing still, notes Mays.  Therefore, application of ice packs can be challenging. Allow the horse to have several swallows of cool, clean, fresh water every few minutes.  There is a possibility of colic if your horse drinks large quantities of water in a short period of time.“To help your horse beat the heat, provide plenty of fresh, cool water,” notes Mays.  “Keep water bucket or trough clean to promote drinking.  Average size work horses can consume over 25 gallons of water per day when the temperature is above 70 degrees.”

Limit strenuous riding to late evening or early morning when the temperature is lower.  Use less tack in the hot summer by minimizing saddle pads and leg boots.  Also clip your horse’s coat and keep its mane and tail trimmed.

Heat stroke can happen to horses whether they are working hard, standing in stifling stables, or traveling in unventilated trailers, notes Mays.  Call a veterinarian and take immediate action if your horse has elevated respiration or pulse (in an inactive horse), body temperature above 103 degrees, or irregular heart beat.

“Do the skin pinch test to check your horse’s hydration,” says Mays.  Test for dehydration by pinching the skin along the horse’s neck.  The skin should snap back quickly.  If the pinched area collapses slowly the horse is dehydrated.

Hot weather does require that you give your horse special care.  But, you and your horse can lessen summer’s hot days when you practice these cool tips to beat the heat.


This article is from: PET TALK

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.  Stories can be viewed on the Web @

Keeping Critters Out

Friday, June 20th, 2014

RabbitInGardenThere are few things more frustrating to a gardener than to lavish weeks of care on your vegetable plants, bringing them to the brink of harvest—only to have them munched, trampled, or otherwise ruined by hungry wildlife. Fortunately, there are ways to fight back and protect your crops. Here are some methods for keeping deer, rabbits, and voles out of your garden.


Did you know that rabbits prefer young, tender shoots and are particularly fond of lettuce, beans, and broccoli. They like to nibble on flowers such as marigolds, pansies, and petunias. Young rabbits are curious and tend to sample many plants, even ones reputed to be rabbit-resistant.  Rabbits prefer to eat at night.

Here are the most popular methods for curtailing rabbit, deer & vole activity:

  1. Fencing & Netting – Lay chicken wire or netting on or around your plants to keep bunnies out.  For deer, fences and covers, such as plastic netting, chicken wire, or floating row covers that you place over plants so deer can’t reach them. For voles, a fence that’s buried 3 to 6 inches below the soil surface and bent outwards into an L-shape. Above ground, the fence should be from 4 to 12 inches tall.
  2. Habitat Removal – Remove brush piles, tall grass, low-growing shrubs, and rock piles for bunnies.  Voles dislike cleared spaces.  Cleared spaces as narrow as 10 inches inhibit their movements; wider areas are even better. Remove weeds, mulch, and any crop litter around the garden. Consider digging a trench, voles don’t like trenches.
  3. Scare them – having a cat or dog in the yard will help deter rabbits.  Once bunnies realize the devices don’t present a true threat, though, they’ll ignore them.  A dog that can roam the area is a good threat to deer.  Motion-triggered devices that squirt water, turn on a radio, or emit an irritating high frequency sound may also work.  Predator urine gives deer a fright by making them think a predator visits your garden.
  4. Repellents – Rabbit repellents work either by releasing a repulsive odor or by making plants taste bad.  For deer, repellents that emit sulfur odors, like that found in egg products or bloodmeal, provide the best control; repellents applied to leaf surfaces are more effective than those (such as capsules or reservoirs) that release an odor intended to create a perimeter.  Garlic inserted into tubes, hot sauce around the area and caster oil are some known repellants that may work for voles.
  5. Predators  – Pets, hawks, foxes, snakes, and owls will help with bunny control.  Cats are a great deterrent for vole control, as are owls, foxes, hawks, bobcats, some snakes, and coyotes.
  6. Plant Selection – Grow plants they dislike, or place such plants next to the ones they do like.  Deer tend to dislike rhubarb, asparagus and garlic.
    Bunnies tend to dislike:

    • Vegetables: asparagus, leeks, onions, potatoes, rhubarb, squash, tomatoes
    • Flowers: cleomes, geraniums, vincas, wax begonias
    • Herbs: basil, mint, oregano, parsley, tarragon
  7. Trapping – Contact local authorities for more information

Talk to us about options for keeping rabbits, deer and voles out of your yards and garden.  We provide repellants, fencing and netting options.

Source: Bonnie Plants


New Online Draw Hunt System

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

txparksThe Public Hunting Program is launching a new online-only drawn hunt system for 2014-2015 hunts. Starting in early July, you can search for hunts by category and location, apply for hunts and check drawing status, all online.


Drawn Hunts offers affordable hunting experiences on public lands in more than 24 different hunt categories, including eight Youth Only hunt categories. This includes hunts for desert bighorn sheep, pronghorn, white-tailed deer, mule deer, exotics, turkey and more.

This year, all applications will be submitted online and the “Applications for Drawings” booklet will no longer be printed and mailed. Instead, an online catalog of all 2014-2015 hunts will be available.


With the new online-only Public Hunt Drawing System, you can now:

  • Apply multiple times in the same hunt category and apply up until midnight the day of deadline
  • Receive email notifications once selected
  • Print or store permits on a mobile device to display when needed
  • Use your unique Customer ID number as your identifier
  • Pay any required application or permit fees by credit card
  • Apply for antlerless deer tags on US Forest Service areas


Learn more about the Drawn Hunts application process. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at [email protected] or (512) 389-4505.

Taking cues from human medicine: Pregnancy is not a time to skimp on nutrition

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Cow GroupWould a human medical doctor advise a woman to lose weight while she was pregnant? Probably not. Yet that’s exactly what happens to a large percentage of beef cows as they advance through pregnancy. Research continues to show that there may be a better way of caring for cows during gestation – with consistent nutrition helping to optimize the cow’s performance, as well as that of their offspring.


This realization is coming after evaluating several decades of human medicine research. Quite often, animal research is applied to human medicine. In this case, we’re looking at the scenario in reverse. Studies of women who were deprived of nutrition during pregnancy have shown long-term consequences for the health of the babies they were carrying. Similar long-term effects are possible in the cattle industry.


One of the earliest of such studies looked at the later health of babies that were in-utero in the midst of the Dutch Famine during World War II in 1944-45. When medical researchers looked at the long-term health of those individuals, they found that maternal malnutrition resulted in offspring that had significantly higher incidences of health challenges in adulthood, including coronary heart disease, glucose intolerance, high blood pressure, obesity and asthma.1


The researchers noted that the babies in that study were of normal birth weight, suggesting that adaptations that enable the fetus to continue to grow may nevertheless have other adverse consequences later in life.2


Hundreds of subsequent studies have connected maternal nutritional deficiencies and stress with physical and mental setbacks later in life.  Researchers have identified this phenomenon as “fetal origins” or “fetal programming,” concluding that the gestation period is the most consequential part of life, permanently influencing the wiring of the brain and other critical organs such as the heart, liver and pancreas.3


They say these changes are due to a concept called “epigenetic modification,” in which genes do not change but express themselves differently due to changes in DNA.4 This idea could have important implications for the way we feed and care for pregnant beef cows.


Applications to beef animals

Pregnant women are advised to take prenatal vitamins, eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise and rest. In comparison, what do we do with our pregnant cows? During early and mid-gestation, cows are literally “eating for three,” as they still are nursing a calf, while growing a fetus and trying to meet their own nutritional needs. In many management situations, once cows are confirmed pregnant at weaning, they fend for themselves that last trimester on poorer quality pasture for several months.


As the season progresses, grass quality declines as the fetus grows. Late in gestation, many cows are losing weight and body condition at the same time that fetal demands for nutrition are the highest.


Given our investment in genetics and efforts to promote performance of calves after they are born, it may be beneficial to feed calves more aggressively through their mothers before they hit the ground.


Research proves the impact of nutrition

While cattle may not need to worry about some of the health concerns of adult humans, it is important to consider if fetal programming could influence important, cattle-specific factors like immunity, muscle tissue development and fertility.


Because 75 percent of fetal growth in calves occurs during the last two months of gestation, it once was thought that reduced maternal nutrition earlier in pregnancy was of little consequence to the developing fetus. But limbs develop as early as 25 days after conception, followed closely by important organs such as the pancreas, liver, lungs, brain and kidneys.5 Ovaries begin to develop around days 50-60, with critical follicular development starting around day 80.6


It also is important to consider that muscle fiber numbers do not increase after birth,7 and the sites for intramuscular fat accumulation and marbling formation also are created during fetal development.8 Skeletal muscle development is a lower priority in nutritional partitioning compared to the heart, brain and other organs.9 This is what we can infer from the priority of fetal nutrients: cattle do not need to produce extra muscling for survival, they only need a certain amount.  Although muscle is the single most important economic tissue that cattle produce, it would appear to be one of the first tissues to be compromised by subpar fetal nutrition.  Why is this?  Extra muscling requires “both ample and missing nutrients during fetal development”.  Albeit, there are more questions than answers as the beef scientific community is still in the learning stages, but progress has been made in evaluation of cow nutrition on muscle development.


In addition to research on fetal muscle development, several studies have evaluated the potential impact of fetal programming on beef cattle performance overall. They have reported instances of compromised maternal nutrition during gestation resulting in calves with increased mortality; intestinal and respiratory problems; metabolic disorders; decreased growth rates after birth; and reduced meat quality.10


Specifically, beef cattle research looking at the influence of fetal programming on offspring performance has shown:


  • Steers from cows nutritionally restricted during gestation had reduced body weight and carcass weight at 30 months of age compared to adequately fed cows.11
  • Marbling scores decreased in steers from underfed dams compared to those from dams that were fed 100 percent of NRC (2000) requirements.12
  • Heifers born from supplemented dams later had increased adjusted 205-day weaning weights, prebreeding weights, weight at pregnancy diagnosis and improved pregnancy rates compared to heifers born to nonsupplemented dams.13
  • Heifers from supplemented dams reached puberty faster compared to those from nonsupplemented dams.14
  • Steers from cows grazed on improved pasture from 120 to 180 days gestation had increased weight gains, final weight, hot carcass weight, increased back fat and improved marbling scores, compared to steers from cows grazed on native range.15
  • Fewer steers from cows supplemented with protein required treatment for sickness in the feedlot, compared to offspring from non-supplemented dams.16,17


These findings lead us to conclude that, just like humans, pregnant cows need a consistent plane of nutrition throughout gestation. For the growing fetus, there is no “catching up” after it has passed critical developmental stages. Nutritional supplementation during all three trimesters of pregnancy could allow calves to maximize their genetic potential, and increases the probability of superior calf growth and performance.

By Ron Scott, Ph.D., Director of Beef Research and Technical Services for Purina Animal Nutrition

For more information, visit  Posted with permission from Purina Mills



1,2Roseboom, T. J., J. H. P. van der Meulen, A. C. J. Ravellie, C. Osmond, D. J. P. Barker, O. P. Bleker. 2001. Effects of prenatal exposure to the Dutch famine on adult disease in later life: an overview. Mollecular and Cellular Endocrinology 185:93-98.


3Paul, A. M. 2010. How the first nine months shape the rest of your life. Time, September 22, 1010.


4Choi, C. Q. 2014. Mother’s diet at time of conception may alter baby’s DNA. LiveScience, April 30, 2014.


5Hubbert, W. T., O. H. V. Stalheim, and G. D. Booth. 1972. Changes in organ weights and fluid

volumes during growth of the bovine fetus. Growth 36:217–233.


6Nilsson, E. E., and M. K. Skinner. 2009. Progesterone regulation of primordial follicle

assembly in bovine fetal ovaries. Mol. Cell. Endocrinol. 313:9-16.


7Stickland, N. C. 1978. A quantitative study of muscle development in the bovine foetus (Bos

indicus). Anat. Histol. Embryol. 7:193–205.


7Stickland, N. C. 1978. A quantitative study of muscle development in the bovine foetus (Bos

indicus). Anat. Histol. Embryol. 7:193–205.


8Tong, J., M. J. Zhu, K. R. Underwood, B. W. Hess, S. P. Ford, and M. Du. 2008. AMPactivated

protein kinase and adipogenesis in sheep fetal skeletal muscle and 3T3–L1 cells.

J. Anim. Sci. 86:1296–1305


9Bauman, D. E., J. H. Eisemann, and W. B. Currie. 1982. Hormonal effects on partitioning of

nutrients for tissue growth: role of growth hormone and prolactin. Fed. Proc. 41:2538-



10Wu, G., F. W. Bazer, J. M. Wallace, and T. E. Spencer. 2006. Board invited review.

Intrauterine growth retardation: Implications for the animal sciences. J. Anim. Sci.



11Greenwood, P. L., L. M. Cafe, H. Hearnshaw, D. W. Hennessy, and S. G. Morris. 2009.

Consequences of prenatal and preweaning growth for yield of beef primal cuts from 30-

month-old Piedmontese and Wagyu-sired steers. Anim. Prod. Sci. 49:468-478.


12Du, M., J. Tong, J. Zhao, K. R. Underwood, M. Zhu, S. P. Ford, and P. W. Nathanielsz. 2010.

Fetal programming of skeletal muscle development in ruminant animals. J. Anim. Sci. 88

(E. Suppl.):E51-E60.


13Martin, J. L., K.A. Vonnahme, D. C. Adams, G. P. Lardy, and R. N Funston. 2007. Effects of

dam nutrition on growth and reproductive performance of heifer calves. J. Anim. Sci.



14Funston, R. N., J. L. Martin, D. C. Adams, and D. M. Larson. 2010b. Winter grazing system

and supplementation of beef cows during late gestation influence heifer progeny. J. Anim.

Sci. 88: 4094-4101.


15Underwood, K. R., J. F. Tong, P. L. Price, A. J. Roberts, E. E. Grings, B. W. Hess, W. J.

Means, and M. Du. 2010. Nutrition during mid to late gestation affects growth, adipose

tissue deposition and tenderness in cross-bred beef steers. Meat Sci. 86:588-593.


16Mulliniks, J. T., S. H. Cox, S. L. Ivey, C. P. Mathis, J. E. Sawyer, and M. K. Petersen. 2008.

Cow nutrition impacts feedlot pull rate. Proc. West. Sec. Am. Soc. Anim. Sci. 59:91-94.


17Larson, D. M., J. L. Martin, D. C. Adams, and R. N. Funston. 2009. Winter grazing system and

supplementation during late gestation influence performance of beef cows and steer

progeny. J. Anim. Sci. 87:1147-1155.



Starting Fall Seeds

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

Germinating_tomatosIt may seem early but now is the time to start thinking of starting fall tomatoes and peppers from seed. July 15th is the start date to plant fall tomatoes. It takes 5-6 weeks to get them germinated and mature enough before you can plant them in the garden. The keys are good loose planting mix, consistent moisture and temperatures. The hard part is keeping the planted seeds in the 75 – 85 Fahrenheit range.

Come visit us and pick up seeds for your fall garden!

Proper Application of Herbicides

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

Chapin-Lawn-SprayerThe application of herbicides (plant killers) can be as damaging as it is beneficial, depending on the method of application. The goal is to apply a properly mixed solution on the proper plant and to avoid damage to other plants. It is all about control of the product. Whether you are applying a synthetic or an all-natural, for us homeowners, the pump-up sprayer is the tool of choice. Products have been developed to replace the pump-up sprayer but none have passed the test of time. The hose-end sprayers are ok for fungicides and fertilizers but they are to susceptible to wind drift and non-targeted plants may be damaged or killed. Pick up a sprayer at our store.

Looking for a more precise method? After reading the directions, mix up your herbicide. Put on a new (no holes) dish washing glove. Put on a cotton glove over the dish glove. Dip your gloved hand in the mixed solution and wipe the offending plant. You can substitute a paint brush for the glove method. Yes, it will take longer before you’re completed but consider it quality time with the lawn.

Tips For Watering Your Trees

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

6189571988_e98074bdd0_zWith the start of summer just around the corner everyone always thinks of shade. Trees have been going through some tough times with the continuing drought and this summer will be no different. Proper watering of established trees is essential if they are going to survive another dry, hot summer. Even if there are water restrictions in your area, you can help your trees out with mindful watering.

One of the first signs of lack of water is a dry / burned area around the outer edge of the leaf. This is called marginal leaf burn and should not be ignored. It indicates that the tree needs more water. If you find this type of damage, don’t just turn the hose on for a day. If you have a sprinkler system double check the heads around the tree. Add more heads if needed or redirect the heads you have. For those who water by hand, watering in the morning is preferred over evening watering.

The other side of this stress is too much water. Water logged soil displaces oxygen around the root system and the tree will slowly drown. When trees are stressed they are more susceptible to insects and disease damage. The bottom line is to keep the tree properly watered.

8 Questions To Ask Before Taking Pets On Vacation

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

Blue beach umbrellaFor many, summer means vacations. When you are single and live alone, you can be ready at a moment’s notice. Throw in a dog or two, and you have some serious considerations to mull over before you even think of packing.

Even when you have a family, planning for a vacation becomes more complicated when you share your life with a dog. Should you leave him at a kennel? For many, that is out of the question. The indecision causes quite a few dog owners to bring their dog with them. It is not any easy decision no matter which way you decide.

However, there are some questions to ask yourself before you commit to answering the ultimate summertime question of pet owners: should you bring your dog on vacation?

  1. Does your dog adapt well to new situations? If not, your fun trip may quickly escalate into a bad memory.
  2. Do you have a responsible friend or relative who would enjoy taking your dog while you’re gone? If so, that’s always the safest bet!
  3. How active is your dog? If you have a dog who requires a lot of activity, a vacation inside a hotel might be anything but fun for your pup.
  4. Is your destination pet friendly? Many hotels allow pets but it’s certainly not the majority. Check ahead to see what they offer.
  5. How much time will you spend in places where you can’t take your dog? Will you spend the majority of your time at a beach house or in the woods where your dog can accompany you or will you be spending hours on long lines for sightseeing tours, rides, and attractions?
  6. Is your dog old? A sunny getaway may not be pleasant for an older dog who would prefer to just lay around in air-conditioning.
  7. Does your dog love being in the sun and soaking up the summer? Or is does she get easily winded or overheated when the temps go up? If you have a breed that has special temperature concerns, it is probably best for your dog to stay home in a cool place than traipse after the family on vacation.
  8. Have you explored non-traditional boarding? Look for services that set up owners and host families for a fee, like a kennel.If your dog loves people and new situations, a five star boarding experience just might prove more enjoyable than a five star hotel.

Source: Babble/Danielle Sullivan

Father’s Day

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Happy Father’s Day to all the dad’s out there!

Karen K. Boyer

Father2He never looks for praises
He’s never one to boast
He just goes on quietly working
For those he loves the most
His dreams are seldom spoken
His wants are very few
And most of the time his worries
Will go unspoken too
He’s there…. A firm foundation
Through all our storms of life
A sturdy hand to hold to
In times of stress and strife
A true friend we can turn to
When times are good or bad
One of our greatest blessings,
The man that we call Dad.

Family Friend Poems

12 Tips For Horse Hydration

Monday, June 9th, 2014

HorseAtWaterWater is the fuel that keeps all living creatures’ bodies functioning. In horses, it’s a crucial nutrient for digestion and thermoregulation, among other life-supporting functions. However, there’s more to keeping horses hydrated than simply providing them constant access to clean water. In this article we’ve called on Kristen M. Janicki, MS, PAS, an equine nutritionist based in Versailles, Ky., and Mary Beth Gordon, PhD, an equine nutritionist and director of equine research at Purina Animal Nutrition, to answer your most frequently asked reader questions about hydration. In no particular order, here’s (almost) everything you need to know about watering horses:

1. How long is too long for a horse to go without water?

Although horses’ bodies can tolerate a lack of water for extended periods, dehydration from water restriction can quickly become fatal. Janicki recommends seeking veterinary help if it’s obvious (based on clinical signs mentioned in No. 5, along with untouched water sources) a horse hasn’t been drinking for two days. “After three to four days, the horse’s organs will begin to shut down, which can result in irreversible (organ and tissue) damage,” she explains.

Water intake, however, is not just about drinking. “Horses on pasture (which has a high percentage of moisture) will sometimes drink little to no additional water,” Gordon explains. “The more dry feedstuffs fed to the horse (such as hay), the more water they will drink.”

She adds that horses also naturally generate “metabolic” water as a result of breaking down protein, carbohydrates, and fat. “This does not provide a large amount of water, but does contribute to the horse’s daily balance,” she says. “All of these things may change the horse’s demand for water. Always follow good basic horse keeping rules and have fresh, potable water available at all times.”

2. How do I encourage my horse to drink?

Both of our sources agree that the easiest way to encourage drinking is to provide your horse with fresh, clean, palatable water at all times. “Frequently checking, scrubbing, and refilling water troughs and buckets is part of the nitty-gritty of horse keeping,” Gordon says.

Other ways to up your horse’s intake include soaking hay and providing salt via salt blocks, loose salt top-dressing on feed, or a salt supplement. “Correct sodium balance in the horse is necessary for proper thirst response and body water equilibrium,” Gordon explains.

3. What temperature water do horses prefer to drink?

There is evidence that horses prefer lukewarm (20°C or 68°F) water, especially during cold weather, Janicki says. For instance, researchers have shown that pony stallions drank 38-41% less water when it was near frozen compared to when it was 66°F. Yet, when kept indoors at warm temperatures, they drank the same amount of both 32°F water and 66°F water.

4. Can a horse drink too much water?

A horse can, in fact, drink too much water, particularly if he suffers from certain health conditions, such as equine Cushing’s disease. Such ailments can cause a horse to exhibit polydipsia, or excessive drinking behavior.

“Excessive water intake can cause stress on the kidneys as they eliminate the excess water and can also dilute the electrolytes in the horse’s body, decreasing its ability to regulate temperature,” Janicki explains.

Healthy horses, however, typically don’t drink beyond their body’s capacity, says Gordon: “In research we conducted looking at water intake from adding sodium to diets, no horse drank beyond what was considered normal for their body weight or based on weather conditions. We’re usually more concerned about the opposite: horses not drinking enough water.”

5. What are signs of dehydration, and what do I do if my horse becomes dehydrated?

Becoming familiar with your horse’s normal vital signs ( is one way you can prepare to detect dehydration. Clinical signs include an elevated heart rate or pulse (28-40 beats per minute is normal for an adult horse), changes in gum color and feel (bubblegum pink and moist are normal), and decreased skin elasticity (detectable via a skin pinch test, in which the skin along the neck in front of the shoulder should retract back to normal in less than two seconds when pinched and released). According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), changes to these vital signs occur when the horse is 4-6% dehydrated. Horses typically display visual signs such as sunken eyes and a tucked-up appearance to the abdomen when dehydration levels approach 8-10%.

“Most of the time, dehydration can be fixed by offering clean, palatable water,” Janicki says. “In cases where the horse is 8-10% dehydrated, you will need to call a veterinarian to administer fluids.”

6. On a very hot day, how long would it take for a horse to become dehydrated?

“An idle horse requires approximately 5 L water/100 kg body weight,” Janicki says. “Typically, for a 1,100-pound horse, that would be around 25 L (6.6 gallons) of water per day. This is based on research done on horses kept at a thermoneutral temperature range  (-15-10°C or 5-50°F), which is considered to be the temperature a horse maintains its own body temperature with little or no energy expenditure.”

How long it takes for a horse to become dehydrated depends on many individual factors affecting hydration status in hot weather, such as diet, work, pregnancy, lactation, and age.

The good news is that in two studies Gordon and colleagues performed recently, they saw a positive link between ambient temperature and water intake. “If temperatures are rising, horses will drink more water to maintain hydration status and offset sweat losses,” she explains. “Therefore, (how long it takes for a horse to become dehydrated) partially depends on the availability of water for horses to rehydrate on a very hot summer day.”

In another study, Geor et al. demonstrated that horses exercised at high temperatures (33-35°C or 91-95°F) and high humidity (80-85%) increased their water intake 79% for four hours.

7. Can certain health conditions impact a horse’s water intake?

Basically, any health condition that decreases feed intake can also lessen water intake, says Gordon. And if a horse suffers from diarrhea for any reason, he can become dehydrated easily, even if drinking normal amounts of water, says Janicki.

On the other end of the drinking spectrum, “horses with uncontrolled glucose/insulin may drink and urinate more,” Gordon says. And, as mentioned, horses with Cushing’s disease can develop polydipsia.

Diet can also affect water consumption. “High levels of fiber (hay), salt, potassium, and protein in the diet can cause excessive water intake,” Janicki notes.

8. How can I keep my horses hydrated while competing or traveling?

Janicki suggests making frequent stops (every two to three hours) to offer your horse water when traveling. This will help him not only stay hydrated but also tolerate traveling for long periods of time.

Gordon says owners can also offer their horses soaked hay or a compressed hay product: “It masks the taste of ‘foreign’ water and helps ensure the horse remains hydrated.”

During competitions or trail rides, offer your horse water whenever possible. “(Horses) should be able to drink as much as they want, unless certain medical conditions prevent this from happening,” Janicki advises. In such cases, work with your veterinarian to determine how much water to offer and how frequently.

9.  Immediately after an intense workout, should I taper my horses’ water intake or should I allow them to drink all they want, all at once?

Similar to the response to the previous question, a horse should be allowed to drink as much as he wants anytime after performing an intense exercise bout.

Although some owners have reservations about giving a horse free access to water before he “cools down,” Gordon points out that Schott et al. have demonstrated in research studies that horses do not drink beyond their stomach capacity in the first few minutes following intense exercise.

“Water does not need to be withheld,” she says. “Use ambient temperature or ‘hose-cold’ water, and train horses to drink salt water after intense exercise to help replenish water and electrolyte requirements. Also provide clean water at the same time.”

10. Why are some horses so picky about their water sources?

Horses are very sensitive to the smell and taste of water and feedstuffs, says Gordon, and there can be many explanations as to why a horse refuses to drink from a certain water source. Janicki explains that water sources have varying pH levels and, more importantly, total dissolved solid (TDS) levels. “Palatability is affected most by TDS values, which measure the amount of ions in the water source,”

she says.

Water hardness (which can be due to high calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium levels) also affects palatability.

If your horse turns up his nose at water when traveling or competing, Janicki suggests taking water from home with you and making it available so your horse will not become dehydrated.

11. I often ride where there are no water sources. How long and hard can I ride my horse before he needs a chance to drink?

Our sources do not suggest taking long, hard rides in the desert without water sources, unless you’re completing an endurance event. “Endurance riders typically provide water at all times before the ride,” Janicki says. “Soaking hay or hay cubes before the ride will help with fluid balance. Do not provide grain within four hours of (before) the ride, as this may dehydrate a horse quicker. Offering electrolytes before and after the ride in water will help with electrolyte losses and fluid intake.”

12. When trail riding, what kind of natural water sources are safe for horses? What are the signs that a natural water source might not be safe?

Again, clean, fresh water is the best water for horses. Janicki suggests examining a potential water source carefully before allowing your horse to drink from it, considering its clarity (rainfall and runoff decrease clarity), odor (which can indicate unclean water, potentially impacting palatability), temperature (since extremely cold or warm water affects palatability), and color (which does not necessarily affect water quality, so use this factor in combination with the others—i.e., don’t let your horse drink from mirky, moldy-smelling water that is also green).

Take-Home Message

The best way to ensure your horse is well-hydrated is to offer him free-choice access to clean, quality water regardless of whether he’s stabled, turned out, traveling, or competing. Watch for signs of dehydration, and work with your veterinarian to solve any watering hole issues your horse might have.




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