An average 1,000-pound horse drinks roughly 4
to 9 gallons of water a day, but can lose up to 2 to
3 gallons of water per hour through sweat alone
if in heavy work. When dehydrated, a horse will
have dry gums, and his skin will “tent” when
pinched and not pop back into place immediately.
A severely dehydrated horse will act colicky. His
muscles will cramp and he may overheat if his
ability to sweat is hampered.
Heat stress compounded with dehydration is a
very serious condition that can result in shock and
kidney damage. The normal rectal temperature of a
horse is 99 to 101 degrees F. During exercise, a horse’s
temperature can rise to 103, but will begin to lower
quickly during cool-down. A rectal temperature that
remains above 103.5 is indicative of heat stress.
Most horse owners know the importance of
having fresh water available to horses at all times,
but at the height of summer, keeping your horse
hydrated can take some extra vigilance.
Like human athletes, horses require both water
and electrolytes to replenish the sodium, chloride,
and other elements lost in sweat. Most of the
time, unless your horse is undergoing advanced
training for elite athletic performance, a salt block
is su;cient. Horses are relatively good at regulating
their own intake of salt when they need it.
flies bring the
blues to your
LONG SUMMER EVENINGS are perfect
for leisurely after-work trail rides and
schooling sessions. But even the idyllic
summer season isn’t without a few
problems. Here’s how to tackle horse
health issues this season.
is On Heat
HORSE HEALTH » BY ANNA O’BRIEN, DVM