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October 5, 2011

Managing your horse’s water in the winter

by DePaolo Equine Concepts

Most horse owner tend to be concerned with water consumption in the summer because of hot weather and dehydration but it is important to pay attention to water intake and the water source in the winter months as well.  Proper drainage and water maintenance are crucial to a horse’s health.  Here are some simple ways to prevent water on your property from being contaminated and therefore unfit for horses to drink.[1]

  • Install gutters to catch rainwater and prevent its introduction to the water supply post transit across potentially contaminated surfaces.
  • Keep manure on an impermeable surface and prevent run off from entering streams or ponds used for horse consumption. It is recommended that manure be kept at least
    50 feet from a drilled well and 100 feet for a dug well or surface water source like a pond.
  • Test the bacteria count in your water.  Water that is intended for livestock consumption should have less than 200 bacteria per 100 ml and coliform bacteria should be no more than 5 per  100ml.  Fecal coliforms should not be present at all.
  • Control pasture run off and prevent its introduction to main water supplies via drainage ditches.  Pasture run off can be contaminated by fecal matter, especially when the pasture is overgrazed and subject to erosion.
  • Clean water troughs and buckets thoroughly and often.  Check these sources daily for contamination from the droppings of other animals such as birds.
  • Remember at horseshows or events away from home to check frequently that horses have water. Often exhibitors forget that their horses are likely to have increased water requirements due to exertion that cannot be met if there is no water available to them.
  • Test the mineral content of your water supply at the barn.  Many minerals will not adversely affect the taste of water thus hard to detect without proper testing.  A mineral test will tell you if levels of minerals in the water are dangerously high or if the water has high levels of substances like arsenic.

If you suspect your horse is drinking from a tainted water source you will want to perform a  Horse Hair Analysis® test, a cutting edge lab test and customized analysis report that allows for a deep understanding of what may be causing unsolved health problems.

Hair, like all other body tissues, contains minerals that are deposited as the hair grows. Horse Hair Analysis® testing evaluates the last 90 day average of the vitamins and minerals that actually made it into the tissues. When vitamins, minerals and metals are found in the hair it means that these nutrients were not only digested, absorbed, metabolized and utilized, but it is also made it through to the hair. This provides you with an extremely accurate reading of your horses’ biochemistry.

If toxic levels of heavy metals are found, they can be chelated (detoxed) by the HHA customized supplement.  Heavy metal toxicities are linked to colic, ulcers, neurologic problems, muscle tremors, body soreness, tying up, skin disorders, and endocrine disorders. Treated wood that is being chewed and contaminated drinking water are common sources of heavy metal toxicity. Without chelating toxicities from the body, your horse will never be healthy.


[1] Onatario Ministry of Agriculture. “Water Quality for Horses: Understanding Bacterial Counts”

LSU Ag Center “Environmental Horse Stables and Barns”

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