Water access - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 05-24-2019, 07:01 PM Thread Starter
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Water access

Hello all. This is probably a dumb question, but here goes.


How far can horses be reasonably expected to travel for water over hilly terrain? Our 10-acre property is on a hillside, with a small dirt paddock at the bottom and a new 1.5 acre grass pasture being fenced in at the top, with a path between the two. The path is a bit steep in a few places (you'll be winded at the top, but you can definitely hike it on foot). Their source of water would be the automatic waterer in the bottom paddock. Our two mares currently reside in the bottom paddock, and the plan is to open the gate and allow free access to the top as much as pasture conditions permit.


Theoretically, the goal is to encourage them to go up and down the hill between fresh grass and water for some built-in hill work/conditioning, but not if this would be cruel or risk dehydration when they're up top. (Note: They have free-choice hay in the bottom paddock at all times, so they don't have to go up the hill at all if they don't want to. My primary concern is that once they're up there, they won't come back down to drink as much as they should.)


Thoughts? I know horses travel long distances in bigger pastures than this, but I don't know what's reasonable given the terrain or how many troughs/ponds/whatever those pastures usually contain.


Thanks!

Last edited by Surrealle; 05-24-2019 at 07:06 PM.
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post #2 of 12 Old 05-24-2019, 11:18 PM
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Just in my opinion, horses know what they need and will move or stay wherever they feel is most convenient. I see no issues with this setup. I wouldn't worry about them traveling across even if the terrain is rough unless one of them has a medical condition that requires more consistent feed or water. And like you said, you'll have hay nearby anyway if they decide that's what they want to use instead. I love built-in exercise property layouts. Good luck!

Last edited by Aprilswissmiss; 05-24-2019 at 11:19 PM. Reason: Fixed wording.
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post #3 of 12 Old 05-25-2019, 12:18 AM
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Ten acres really isn't too enormous. I wouldn't worry. the horses will figure it out. Unless there are some major obstacles or the horses have issues that make walking around painful, they'll be fine.
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post #4 of 12 Old 05-25-2019, 12:22 AM Thread Starter
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Awesome, thanks guys! Just wanted to double check the plan, since it's not the norm to keep horses on hillsides.
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post #5 of 12 Old 05-25-2019, 04:31 AM
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Feral horses in arid environments will do many, many miles daily, between feed & water. If you were on a really big property(as in 100's of kms), so long as it wasn't too far for a horse to walk to water once daily, that should be fine. Therefore, your 10 acres... even if it was stretched out into a long ribbon, with water at one end, wouldn't be too far.

Horses are built to do lots of miles daily, but we lock them in 'nice' often square, small paddocks, it's actually a good thing to give reasons for them to exercise as much as possible. For their general health & fitness & also for their hooves. If you look up 'paddock paradise' or 'track systems' of horse keeping, you will see some ideas for motivating more movement.

I have a track around my 10 acre property, which has a hay ring at one end, and when the creek's not running, they must walk around a big paddock, up & down a hill, cross the creek, then back across the creek at another spot, to get to the water trough. The other thing with having them on a track is that I can 'rotate' areas for grazing, rest spots, and when there's too much grass, prevent them from over eating & getting fat.
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Some info I've found helpful; [COLOR=Lime][B]www.horseforum.com/horse-health/hoof-lameness-info-horse-owners-89836/
For taking critique pics; [COLOR=Lime][B]https://www.horseforum.com/members/41...res-128437.jpg
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post #6 of 12 Old 05-25-2019, 08:53 AM
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Few horses drink every hour...
Your horses will acclimate to where the water is and where they like to spend the majority of their day.
With that, they will learn to drink heavily before leaving the barn and again when returning...
If it is abnormally hot they will come home for a long drink mid-day and either stay put in the barn shade or go find a tree to hide under and "chill-out"...

My horses are currently on about 6 acres of grass, they really drink only 2x a day that I see...
In morning when they eat and again in the late afternoon or evening hours when they are munching hay they drink.
If you have great concern not enough water is consumed, soak their feed rations and wait till everyone has finished eating before letting out for the day.
I do do that and know my horses leave with an extra 3 gallons of fluid in their gut till they come home again at dusk...and yes, they always have access to water but seldom do I see them make the mid-day trip to go get it.
..
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post #7 of 12 Old 05-25-2019, 04:43 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loosie View Post
Feral horses in arid environments will do many, many miles daily, between feed & water.
Yeah, I get that. One of my other hobbies is aquarium keeping, and a common caveat in that world is that just because a betta can survive in a tiny puddle in the wild, that doesn't mean living in a cup of water is ideal or good for them. I guess that mentality leaks over into my horse hobby sometimes, and I wanted to make sure I wasn't expecting more than I should of my pet horse just because wild ones are capable of it. (If that makes any sense? Lol)

Thanks for the reassurance! :)
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post #8 of 12 Old 05-25-2019, 05:28 PM
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^Great point to keep in mind I reckon.

One of my 'pet niggles' is the way 'natural' is perceived (& sold) as being wonderful, harmless, best practice. Arsenic is natural, so.... ??

But in this case, lots of 'low impact' exercise IS good for horses, and 10 acres is hardly pushing any boundaries no matter how you look at it, so...

Some info I've found helpful; [COLOR=Lime][B]www.horseforum.com/horse-health/hoof-lameness-info-horse-owners-89836/
For taking critique pics; [COLOR=Lime][B]https://www.horseforum.com/members/41...res-128437.jpg
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post #9 of 12 Old 05-25-2019, 09:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Surrealle View Post
One of my other hobbies is aquarium keeping, and a common caveat in that world is that just because a betta can survive in a tiny puddle in the wild, that doesn't mean living in a cup of water is ideal or good for them. I guess that mentality leaks over into my horse hobby sometimes
I am also an aquarium keeper! Probably of too many aquariums, actually. I have bred bettas before, and kept many others. I don't entirely agree with the "bettas can survive in a tiny puddle in the wild." There are so many Youtube videos of catching wild bettas and they're always in sizable (but shallow) ponds or small connected waterways with long grass growing out of the water in between. Thus, I don't ever feel it's reasonable to keep a betta long-term in something like a half gallon or quarter gallon tank. Even in the dry season when they might be staying in tiny puddles, there are always many many adjacent tiny puddles, and they leap from puddle to puddle (also videos on domestic bettas doing this in certain man-made systems).

My point is that the "bettas can survive in a tiny puddle" would be the equivalent of saying "horses can survive in a pasture without water." It's really not true or reasonable at all. Instead, we have to recognize that these animals adapt and overcome these difficulties in the wild (for bettas, hopping puddles; for horses, traveling for water) and thus are capable of this in captivity too provided the means. Only when we consider these adaptations can we see the parallels and understand not to baby our animals while still providing proper care. With betta fish, we either can give them a reasonable sized tank or provide a system where they're capable of puddle hopping (both are reasonable to the fish); but if you put them in a small cup of water, it's really nothing like the wild anymore and it's not reasonable. With horses, we can either give them all their needs in one space or let them travel for it (both are reasonable to the horse); but if you don't provide them water at all, it's nothing like the wild and it's not reasonable.

Sorry to ramble, I hope the parallels make some sense
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post #10 of 12 Old 05-25-2019, 11:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aprilswissmiss View Post
My point is that the "bettas can survive in a tiny puddle" would be the equivalent of saying "horses can survive in a pasture without water."
I think it's more apt to compare it to 'horses can live alone in stables' - just because they can doesn't mean they should. I really can't stand it, that at aquariums here, they sell Siamese Fighters in literally cup sized 'aquariums', the rationality being that they have found them living in puddles from elephant's footprints.
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Some info I've found helpful; [COLOR=Lime][B]www.horseforum.com/horse-health/hoof-lameness-info-horse-owners-89836/
For taking critique pics; [COLOR=Lime][B]https://www.horseforum.com/members/41...res-128437.jpg
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