Although it’s overcast and relatively cool today thanks to the impending arrival of Tropical Storm Barry, or what’s left of it anyway, it’s been a pretty normal hot and humid summer here in the Ozarks. Since my senior mare coliced last summer, I’ve been paying especially close attention to their hydration. When it’s really hot or really cold horses tend to not drink as much. A lack of water in horses, just as in humans, can cause the GI system to slow down and possible constipation. In horses this leads to colic (a really bad stomach ache that can be deadly). So it’s important to keep as much water flowing into the horses to replace water lost from sweating, as well as potential losses of salts and electrolytes from sweat, during hot weather.
The routine that I have with my horses works pretty well for us. Although they’re pasture bums, my horses do get some pelleted sweet feed twice a day. In the winter, it helps supplement the calories lost from not having fresh grass and when the weather gets warm like this, it is an inviting treat to encourage them to drink. Plus, they tend to not graze as much when it’s super hot.
So I soak their feed in water. Just enough to make it soft and mushy, but it becomes a refreshing treat and everyone dives right in. Then, in the mornings, they receive a scoop of Redmond Rock Crushed Mineral Salt. This replaces the minerals they’ll lose during the day from sweat and the salt encourages them to drink. I purchased a couple of bags last year and this one has lasted me since the weather got warm. My local feed store sells it and thankfully offers coupons since I’m in their text VIP program.
In the afternoons on very hot and humid days, when I soak their feed again, they get a scoop or half a scoop of electrolytes. Farnam is really good about sending horse owner coupons earlier in the year, so they get apple electrolytes. This allows them to replenish those salts and minerals lost during the day’s sweat and encourages them to drink throughout the night.
So far we’ve done really well with this regimen and a 5lb bucket of either lasts us a fairly long time so it’s not that expensive either.