The best way to treat dehydration is to always take every
opportunity you can to water your horse – that is, encourage them to drink as
opposed to stick them under the hose...
It’s also vital as we discussed previously to get electrolytes into your horse – but how? They don’t taste great so why would horses want to
Adding electrolytes to your horses water probably isn’t the
best idea as the taste may reduce overall water intake which leaves you in a
worse position. However, it is
possible to mask the taste using fruit juice – try apple juice. Although I have seen it get to the
extent where one lorry had 3 different juices on board for different tastes of
Electrolytes also come as pastes that can be given orally
just like wormers. However with
some horses this can be an uphill battle so it is possible to mix the oral
paste with apple puree to hide the taste and add it to feed.
It’s best to try each technique and see which works for you. Also, practising at home will make it
so much easier when it comes to competing and your horse might be a bit more
So how do we recognise dehydration? Low level dehydration isn’t possible to
spot with simplistic tests but will still affect performance. However, it is possible to see more
developed dehydration with some simple tests.
The pinch test: On an area of loose supple skin, go for the
neck, pinch up the skin then release it.
It should return quickly to its original state and not stay risen. The down side to this test is that skin
suppleness varies from horse to horse so it is important to do this test
regularly in order to gauge the ‘normal’ return rate of that particular horse's skin.
Eye sockets: A far less accurate test is to look at the
horses eye sockets – sunk in and deep would indicate dehydration. However, there is great controversy
over the accuracy of this test...
In more severe cases the horses lips and mouth will actually
be dry and there will be a weak fast pulse combined with cool extremities. If this is the case then there is more
serious cause for concern.
In hot climates a horse may increase its water intake 4
fold. Under normal conditions a
horse will drink more than it needs but a dehydrated horse will tend to drink
less hence the problem exacerbates itself....
On a simpler note – cool horses will sweat less so clipping
horses with thick coats may help to reduce electrolyte loss.
In the next blog we’ll look in more detail at the effects of
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