May 23, 2024 3 min read

Keep Your Horse Hydrated - Here’s Why It Matters

Let’s cut to the chase—your horse needs to stay hydrated in both summer and winter if you want them to perform at their best, no matter the situation. This is especially true when it comes to traveling distances with your horse, whether it’s for a competition or just a leisurely trail ride. All those bumps and jostles along the way can take a toll on your horse’s body, so you need to make sure you are replenishing their fluids and electrolytes before, during, and after your journey.

Hydration is key for horses engaging in physical activity or traveling long distances because it helps keep their bodies functioning optimally. When your horse loses too much water through sweat, stress, urination, or respiration, their body can become dehydrated, leading to serious health issues such as poor recovery, muscle cramps, colic, or heatstroke. It’s important to note that hydration isn't just about drinking enough water—electrolytes play an essential role as well.

Understanding Hydration in Horses

Horses have unique hydration needs, which are crucial to understand for maintaining their overall health and performance. On average, an adult horse drinks between 30-50 litres of water per day. However, this amount can vary based on several factors, including temperature, humidity, diet, and the horse’s activity level.

What is an Electrolyte?

Electrolytes are minerals such as sodium, calcium, and potassium that help regulate fluid levels in the body. They get depleted when a horse sweats heavily or exercises intensely. If not replaced promptly, electrolyte imbalances can cause cramping, fatigue, and muscle weakness in horses. This is why keeping your horse properly hydrated with plenty of fresh water, as well as adding an electrolyte supplement to their feed, is essential if they are traveling long distances or working hard.

5 Signs of Dehydration in Horses

Recognising the signs of dehydration in your horse is crucial for timely intervention. Here are five physical and behavioural indicators to watch for:

  • Dry Mucous Membranes: Check your horse’s gums; if they are dry or sticky, it could be a sign of dehydration.
  • Skin Elasticity: Perform the "pinch test" by pinching a fold of skin on your horse’s neck. The skin should quickly return to its original position. If it stays pinched, your horse may be dehydrated.
  • Sunken Eyes: Bright, alert eyes indicate good hydration. Sunken eyes could be a red flag.
  • Reduced Urination: Less frequent urination or darker urine can indicate insufficient water intake.
  • Lethargy: An unusually tired or sluggish horse might be experiencing dehydration.

5 Strategies for Ensuring Proper Hydration

Maintaining proper hydration levels in your horse involves more than just offering water. Here are five practical tips to ensure your horse stays hydrated:

  • Consistent Access to Fresh Water: Always provide your horse with clean, fresh water. During colder months, consider using heated water buckets to encourage drinking.
  • Regular Breaks During Travel: If you’re transporting your horse, schedule frequent breaks to offer water and check for dehydration signs.
  • Electrolyte Supplements: Adding electrolytes to your horse’s diet can help replenish lost minerals, especially after intense exercise or during hot weather.
  • Wet Feeds: Incorporate wet feeds into your horse’s diet. Mixing water with their feed can increase overall fluid intake, particularly in cooler months when they might drink less.
  • Monitor Water Troughs: Regularly check and break any ice forming on water troughs in winter. Insulating troughs can also help prevent freezing.

Case Studies and Expert Insights

Expert Insight from Dr. Jane Smith, Equine Veterinarian

“Horses are incredibly sensitive to dehydration, which can sneak up faster than many owners realise. Using both electrolyte supplements and consistent water monitoring has shown to be highly effective in maintaining optimal hydration levels. Additionally, educating horse owners on how to recognise early signs of dehydration can prevent many health issues down the line.”

Case Study: Champion Eventer "Thunder's" Hydration Strategy

Thunder, a champion eventing horse, faced recurring issues with muscle cramps during competitions. By incorporating a structured hydration plan involving electrolyte supplements and frequent hydration checks, Thunder’s team mitigated these issues, leading to improved performance and faster recovery times.


Proper hydration is vital for the overall well-being of horses. Without adequate water and electrolytes, they can suffer from serious health problems that impact their performance and quality of life. By understanding their unique hydration needs, recognising the signs of dehydration, and implementing practical strategies, you can ensure your horse stays healthy and happy.

Have you found other effective ways to keep your horse hydrated? Share your tips and experiences in the comments below! And if you're looking to enhance your horse's hydration strategy, explore products like Equidae Botanicals HYDROblend and HYDROpaste.

Stay tuned for more tips and insights on equine health. Your horse deserves the best care, and we’re here to help you provide it.