Tired horse or problem?
Second time this has occured in about 4 weeks. First time I was working the horse and today my daughter was.
Temp out was mid 50s. Horse is black with most of his winter coat. After 5 hours away from the barn (trip to farrier's) with no water (did not drink any when offered), my daughter saddled him up and gave him a medium work out. He got sweating a lot. He layed down in the arena with saddle on. She popped him on the rump with her crop and he got back up. Walked him a round for 10 minutes then put him in his stall. Still would not drink any water. About 20-30 minutes later, he drank about 1/2 gallon.
We have owned him 6 weeks. I do not believe he had been worked hard during the winter prior to us getting him.
Question being: Is it more likely that he needs more conditioning to build him up to harder workouts (going to use as barrel/pole/break-away horse) or could there be something else going on?
He normally drinks 3 to 4 gallons of water a day. His gut could be heard when daughter put her ear up to him.
My personal feeling is he needs conditioning and may have been a little dehydrated.
He probably is starting to shed and needed to itch his back. It's not uncommon.
3-4 gallons of water a day is on the low end. Take a few days to carefully measure what he is drinking. I'd be a little concerned about getting more water down him. I think the average is about 7 gallons per day, to process 1 to 2% of their body weight in hay.
Do you know what kind of water (well or public) he had before? Do you have high iron content in your water? I'd play a little with the water to see if you can get him to drink more. Try warming the water to 60^+, and try carrots or peppermint to the water.
It could be a training issue, where he is testing you, but just lying down without trying to roll is a little odd. Here's one article in The Horse; I've seen a few more about water consumption in the winter - and avoiding impaction colic.
The Horse | Water: The Overlooked Nutrient
my horse lays down and trys to role when he sweats alot while hes shedding out.
he also has a problem with getting dehydrated so i handle it with having water available 24/7, a salt block available 24/7 and electrolytes when i work him and he sweats a lot.
i also brush him well before i ride to get as much loose hair off as possible, and that helps a lot
Got to thinking more about the water. He empties his 2 gallon bucket twice a day, sometimes 3 times. So I guess he is getting 4-6 gallons. Which should be enough for an 800 - 900 pounder. Since my first post, 2 hours ago, he downed another 2 gallons.
He did not act collic-ey.
He does have a mineral block in his stall that he licks ocassionally.
I was not there this time, but he just layed down, like he was resting. Did not try to roll.
All seems well, but we are keeping an eye on him.
Thanks for the replies.
I agree with others, how old is your guy? Older horses tend to drink less, so making water more appealing as suggested above (especially warming it) is a great way to get them to drink more. Also, horses sweat very differently than other animals in that they lose a lot of electrolytes. Electrolytes are partially what is responsible for generating the sensation of "thirst" and so they sometimes drink less when they are truly dehydrated due to sweating (this is where the old adage "you can lead a horse to water... comes from!). So that is why a lot of times electrolyte gels are given to horses in hard work.
From your descriptions though, it sounds like a case of an itchy horse who probably also needs some conditioning. And good for your daughter for not letting him roll when he was supposed to be working, this guy sounds like he is in very capable hands. Good luck with him!
You may want to give your horse a bigger bucket. Horses during the summer will drink 15 gallons if they are being worked hard at all.
*nods* We have a 110 gallon tank to water our horses, and between 7 adult horses and a miniature, they'll drain that entire tank every single day when it gets hot and we're riding even moderately.
I would examine a possible electrolyte imbalance. Electrolytes are salts that are required for your horse to retain water, and without them, a horse can become so dehydrated that he actually refuses water because they're not technically "thirsty" from the loss. Most horses maintain their own electrolytes, but performance horses especially it becomes almost mandatory. Your horse COULD just have an issue properly maintaining his balance, which means even the water he is drinking isn't going towards actually rehydrating him because it has nothing to retain it.
Aside from that possibility, it's very realistic he just decided to be an ass and lay down because he was tired and itchy. My coming 3 year old filly lacks so much stamina right now, I can only work her for about 10-15 minutes in the deep snow (mostly walking and jogging) because she's panting hard and sticky with sweat.
To get more water into him, maybe try feeding him a ration balancer in his diet. The ration balancer contains salt and other minerals, and just gets mixed into the feed. Salt blocks, while a good idea, were made for cows. Many horses like them, but many don't. A nutritionist told us to do away with the blocks and use the supplement in the grain ration. That way you know for sure they are getting the salt, along with other vital minerals. We use it and water consumption is up a lot , even in the winter amongst all of out horses. We use Purina Equilizer.
About not drinking while away on a trip, maybe he's just not comfortable drinking from a bucket being held for him in an unfamiliar place? I know our young horses find it an adjustment to do that, and usually only do it after a VERY heavy training sesion, usually at their first training at the track. He may not be comfortable doing it even in the trailer, so maybe try and teach him at home? Hold water up to him in a bucket when he's hot and obviously thirsty. That way when you do start showing, you have a better chance of having a hydrated horse, which equals a less stressed horse(ans you!). Just a thought.
Just got back in from working him. He is a 7 year old QH. 14.3h.
Did not work him too hard, but enough to break a sweat.
At AM feeding, he had drank 1 gallon over night. Put him out with his barn buddy and he drank at the water tub. Hard to tell how much he drank. After this work out, he drank some more.
He did not try to lay down with me today.
I think he was tired of working and was testing my daughter.
We will either put a bigger bucket in his stall or add a second.
All seems well. Thanks for the repiles.
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