Top tips for preventing dehydration

Hot weather, increased workload and more time on the road travelling to competitions can all increase the risk of dehydration for horses and ponies. Dengie Senior Nutritionist Katie Williams, MSc (Dist), provides some top tips for preventing this. . .

  • Make sure that your horse has access to water at all times – ironically horses often prefer the water in the field tank than in the stable and so if they don’t normally drink much out of the bucket in the stable, try filling it with water from the tank.
  • Ensure that your horse or pony has access to plenty of shade.
  • Rising temperatures and increased activity can cause your horse or pony to sweat more resulting in the loss of electrolytes; essential salts that the body needs to function correctly. Using an electrolyte supplement will help your horse to replace losses.
  • Both electrolytes and water are needed for rehydration so adding electrolyte supplements to the water is ideal. If the horse won’t drink his water with the electrolytes added they can be mixed in the feed. Make the feed wet and slushy to promote efficient absorption. Soaked sugar beet such as Dengie Alfa-Beet is perfect for this because it has the benefit of supplying highly digestible fibre whilst helping to maintain hydration and gut movement.
  • Horses that are competing a lot over the summer will probably spend longer periods of time in the stable and on the road and less time turned out in the paddock. Grass, which is made up of 80 per cent water, normally helps to promote hydration and if this is replaced by hay or haylage, water intake will drop. hay is only about 10% water and haylage typically between 30 and 50%. Soaked fibre feeds such as Dengie Alfa-Beet can help to make up for the shortfall in moisture intake.
  • Feeding sugar beet is the ideal way to provide more energy and help maintain good hydration. It takes water into the digestive system which is then released as the fibre is broken down relatively quickly. This is one key reason why this type of feed is particularly useful for competition horses.
  • Always allow your horse or pony to cool off properly after exercise. 

If you would like further information or advice on ways to keep your horse or pony hydrated, call the Dengie Feedline on 01621 841188 or chat live with a nutritionist online.