Q: When my horse competes away from home, he is reluctant to drink. I am worried about him becoming dehydrated. How can I encourage him to drink water?
Nutritionist Christine Smy replies: Horses have extremely sensitive taste buds and can detect slight changes in water, even between different parts of the country
The following suggestions may help you persuade him to drink away from home:
- If you are only away for a day or two, take some of your own water with you in large clean containers. Fill them up at the last moment and keep them out ofthe sun to ensure that the water stays as fresh as possible.
- If you are away from home for longer than two days, you will need to train your horse to accept a specific flavour.
When at home, add the flavour, such as a little sugar beet water or a couple of drops of peppermint essence, into your horse’s water.
It will take him a while to accept the change, but eventually you will be able to take the flavour with you when you are away competing, adding it to the water todisguise any strange tastes.
This method can be quite labour intensive, but it only needs to be carried out during the competition season.
- It is possible to buy electrolytes which can be added to the water, and this is an ideal wayfor the horse to rehydrate himself once he has competed. Again, allow the horse to get used to the taste and smell well in advance of travelling.