5 Ways to Encourage Your Horse to Drink More Water

Written by: Jessica Konopinski

Published on: 02/23/2024

Nothing is as close to a horse owner's worst nightmare than a horse who won’t drink. Whoever said, “you can lead a horse to water , but can’t make it drink” definitely had a point. Horses become accustomed to their environment which means that anything that disrupts their environment can have a negative effect on their drinking patterns. Whether it’s due to change in weather, an increase in workload or a change in environment, there are tons of low cost and effective ways to encourage your horse to drink that are definitely worth a try.

1) Always Provide Two Water Sources

Let’s face it — horses can be picky. If you sit back and think about it, horses are naturally drawn to drinking out of large bodies of water such as fresh streams and ponds. [2] It’s been common to see horses who are hesitant to drink out of small, enclosed water containers. Depending on your horse's living arrangements, ensuring that they always have two sources of water to choose from can give you —as the horse owner— peace of mind that if one source does not fit your horse's needs, they have another one to choose from.

2) Switch up the Water Containers

Not a lot of horse owners think about how the actual container that water is provided can either positively or negatively affect their horses water intake. For instance, some horses prefer drinking out of larger troughs while others prefer buckets. The material of the container is also a great consideration. Most water troughs tend to be rubber which can cause bacteria and debris to build up more easily whereas plastic buckets are easier to clean. Figuring out what your horse gravitates to easiest is key in increasing your horse's water intake.

3) Add Salt to Your Horses Feed

We all require certain levels of sodium in our diet and horses are no exception to that. The easiest way to be absolutely positive your horse is receiving enough sodium is by adding 1-2 teaspoons of salt into your horse's feed once or twice daily. [2] Not only will this allow you to measure exactly how much sodium your horse is receiving, but it will also allow you to take note of how your horse is responding in which case, you can adjust accordingly.

Another way to increase your horse's sodium is by giving them access to a salt lick. Since a lot of salt licks and mineral blocks tend to be heavily processed and may contain additives that taste bitter to the horse, make sure to opt for a natural mineral lick. Some great options include a himalayan salt lick or redmond rock which provide your horse with more bioavailability and a great, non bitter taste.

4) Consider Flavoring Your Horses Water

Sometimes horses can decrease their water intake due to the taste or smell of the water. While change in environment and travel is typically the leading cause of this, adding some flavor to your horse's water can entice them to drink more. Adding a touch of apple cider vinegar or molasses has shown to work well for some horses [1]. There are also water additives that come in all different flavors to choose from for purchase. Some additives may contain electrolytes which is also an added plus. If you’re unsure of what is most appropriate and safe for your horse, always consult with a veterinarian beforehand.

5) Try Implementing Electrolytes

It’s a common misconception that salt and electrolytes are the same. Salt contains two electrolytes known as sodium and chloride. Most electrolyte supplements contain more than just two essential minerals including potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorous. [4] When both are implemented into a horse's diet, you can expect all of your horse's mineral needs to be taken care of along with an increased intake of water.

There are tons of electrolyte supplements out there so it’s important to do your research. Choosing an electrolyte that has the most bioavailable minerals with limited additives is key. Be sure to abide by the instructions to be sure that your horse is receiving the recommended dose and adjust as needed especially during weather and environmental changes.

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About the Author

Jessica is a brand consultant who brings awareness and intention to equestrian and pet platforms. As a former collegiate equestrian athlete and animal lover, Jessica leads with passion and experience through her writing and brand work for companies who advocate for creating a difference in their space. When she's not riding her horse or walking her dog (with iced coffee in hand), you can find her sharing her love for health and wellness with others and integrating these practices in her everyday work.