Snow Will Not Meet Your Horse's Water Needs
By Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D.
Piles of fluffy snow in your pasture - and a horse that nibbles at them - making you think your horse is all set for water this winter? Sorry. Think again, please!
The main cause of colic during the winter is from reduced water consumption. Snow will not provide enough water: A gallon (128 fluid ounces) of average-moisture snow only contains 10 ounces of water, far short of the 8-12 gallons of water your horse should consume each day. Also, eating snow will force your horse to burn precious calories to keep his body temperature steady.
Horses will not drink enough when the water is icy cold. Plan to heat your horse's water to 50 degrees F. And don't forget the salt - it is necessary for electrolyte balance as well as to encourage your horse to drink. Either add table salt, or better yet, a naturally mined sea salt[i], to each meal (one tablespoon, twice daily for a full-sized horse) or offer it free-choice in a small bucket. A salt block or rock is helpful for additional needs, but keep in mind that many horses avoid them because they can cause tongue irritation. Mineralized or blue (from added iodine and cobalt) salt blocks can be bitter and may add more minerals than your horse requires if he is receiving minerals from fortified feeds or supplements.
[i] Naturally mined sea salt offers minute amounts of trace minerals that domesticated horses typically do not consume. Redmond Rock is an excellent choice.
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