EQUUS - - Special Report -

Any dis­cus­sion of win­ter colic needs to start with hy­dra­tion. Im­pactions are more likely to form with dry feed, and horses, for a num­ber of rea­sons, tend to drink less in the win­ter.

As sim­ple as it may seem, frozen wa­ter is the most common rea­son I see for horses be­com­ing de­hy­drated in the win­ter. A wa­ter bucket can freeze within six to 12 hours, so if you’ve filled it in the early evening, your horse very well may spend some part of the night with­out wa­ter. If you chip away the ice and re­fill the bucket in the morn­ing, the wa­ter may freeze again by the af­ter­noon. A horse needs to drink from eight to 10 gal­lons of wa­ter a day, and that can be dif­fi­cult if all he has is ice half the time.

So your first line of de­fense against win­ter colic is to make sure your horse’s wa­ter source never freezes. There are many meth­ods to ac­com­plish this.

A va­ri­ety of prod­ucts, rang­ing from in­su­lated buck­ets to tank heaters, can help keep wa­ter flow­ing. Keep in mind, how­ever, that if an elec­tri­cal com­po­nent for one of th­ese prod­ucts shorts out, your horse will be zapped each time he goes for a drink. If he isn’t drink­ing from a bucket or trough equipped with a heat­ing el­e­ment, of­fer him wa­ter in a “low-tech” plain bucket. If he drinks,

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