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You can lead a horse to water – But what if they won’t drink? This is the issue faced by many competitors this show season, where horses taken out of their home environment put their “hoof down” on water intake, risking dehydration.
As a general rule, horses need 4-5 litres of water (Per Day) for every 100kg of bodyweight for maintenance. It follows that a 500kg horse would require 20-25 litres of water every day (Minimum). That’s not a small amount and it comes as no surprise that if the “tap is turned off” that it quickly leads to physiological problems. Indeed, if a horse seems lethargic or has stopped eating, the veterinarian should be called to investigate.
Sometimes a sign of dehydration is as obscure as a drop in performance or a slight change in appearance where the horse appears drawn in. Other times you notice (particularly at events) that your horse has barely touched his water bucket and has undergone a more dramatic change in appearance and behaviour. A common way of testing for dehydration is to gently pinch the skin on the side of the horse’s neck between thumb and index finger. When released, the skin should instantly return to place. In a dehydrated horse, the skin may sluggishly return to place due to depleted water content.
For most of us, horse shows are exciting destinations. For our horses, the change in scene can come as quite a shock. They can be over-stimulated by the sights, sounds and smells around them. The feed might be different. The water might taste different. Even the experience of travelling can be upsetting and trigger the horse to put the brakes on water intake. Excessive sweating can upset the balance of electrolytes and water in the blood, signaling to the horse that it doesn’t need to drink when it in fact does. If your horse is excessively sweating, consider an electrolyte paste such as HYGAIN® RECUPERATE® to reset the balance and encourage water uptake. If your horse is prone to dehydration at horse shows, there are a few actions available to you: Upon arrival administer 30ml’s of HYGAIN® RECUPERATE®. This will not only encourage drinking but will also boost energy reserves and speed up recovery post event.
HYGAIN® REGAIN®, is a rapid electrolyte replacer that is formulated for horses to help replace body salts lost during exercise and hot climatic conditions. It aids in the treatment of dehydration, hypochloraemia, and alkalosis. The formulation of HYGAIN® REGAIN® contains: Sodium and Chloride: To replace electrolytes from muscle fatigue, muscle damage and dehydration. Potassium: To maintain and ensure correct cellular osmotic pressure which affects the sensitivity of nerves and muscles to impulses. Horses suffering from a lack of potassium are prone to fatigue, muscle weakness, exercise intolerance, tying-up and decreased water intake. Magnesium: Required for muscle function and essential for DNA to send messages to the cells. Calcium: aid in muscle weakness and conditions such as tying-up and ‘thumps.’
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