Fact or fiction: Don’t give horse’s water straight after fast work

  • Myth: “Don’t give horses water immediately after strenuous exercise”

    Fact: Only true if given in bucketfuls

    Nutritionist Katie Lugsden says: “People used to say don’t offer water straight after exercise. But now we know that immediate drinking helps repair and recovery and that dehydration, especially in endurance horses, can be critical. There is as high a risk of a horse getting colic from dehydration as from drinking water immediately after exercise.

    “The rule now is generally to give water immediately, but in moderation and as part of the cooling process. If the horse will drink only during a limited window, such as straight after exercise, it’s important to get water into it then — any water is better than none.

    “Don’t put lots of ice-cold water straight into the digestive system — tepid water is better, and may be more palatable to horses. If the horse won’t drink readily away from home, try other ways of rehydrating it, such as giving soaked sugar beet or wet hay.”

    Nutritionist Ruth Bishop adds: “The best advice is to make water slightly tepid and slightly salty — an isotonic solution appears to enhance total fluid intake during the early recovery period.”

  • This formed part of a feature in Horse & Hound’s feeding special (13 October, ’05)

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