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Advice on winter feeding

Q: I am feeding my horse extra forage due to the lack of winter grazing, but am worried about the potential of impaction colic, particularly while the water keeps freezing.

I have heard of a hydration product that helps horses drink — do you know what it is?
KR, Pembrokeshire

Horse Quencher is a natural blend of barley, oats, beet pulp, corn, salt and a trace amount of molasses.

The product is added to water and is said to be ideal for fussy drinkers, or those requiring extra hydration for any reason.

How does it work?

Lucinda Stapleton of Horse Quencher UK, the sole distributor and supplier in this country, says the product is a natural rehydration supplement that can increase horses’ ability to perform and recover quickly from exertion.

“It is very useful for dehydrated horses. A horse’s thirst response hinges on the salt concentration in his blood,” said Lucinda.

“In instances of heavy or prolonged sweating, the horse loses water and salt equally. Because there is no build-up in salt concentration in the horse’s body, his thirst sensors fail to recognise this loss of water.

“So, even though he is dehydrated, he won’t drink, because his body is not giving him an early warning signal.

“Body condition, environmental conditions and diet can all influence how much water a horse needs to maintain its correct hydration.”

Can it help prevent colic?

Vet Graham Duncanson of the Westover Veterinary Centre in Norfolk recommends Horse Quencher for preventing colic, particularly in the cold.

“We always treat several horses with colic during very cold snaps,” he said. “Colic can have a multitude of causes, but the usual cause after a cold spell is an impaction.

“This may be because the horse has been confined and has eaten a large amount of straw bedding, or perhaps because the horse hasn’t drunk enough.”

Who uses it?

Horse Quencher is used by eventers Karen Dixon and American rider Gina Miles, while horse owner Anita Binns from West Yorkshire successfully used the product with her pony.

“Captain is recovering from three successive stomach impactions, which have occurred over the past two months, and getting him to drink has been impossible — the only way to keep him hydrated was with tubing by the vet,” Anita explained.

“The night the Horse Quencher water was put in his stable, he drank a good half bucket. He now drinks a bucket a night and sometimes a bit more.

“I feel Horse Quencher is teaching him the need to drink again. I hope this product can help other horses to recover from and even prevent illness.”

Information

Horse Quencher UK, tel: 01842 879161 www.horsequencher.co.uk

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (4 February, ’10)

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