Trivia Challenge: Are You Wise in How You Water Your Horse?

Answer the questions, then check at bottom for the key. For more fun and educational information about horses and horsemanship, read H&R’s ‘The Ride’ newsletter. (Not getting it? Sign up below.)

Illustration by Navah Rae Adams

1. Your hot horse is thirsty. How should you offer water to him?

A) Don’t let him drink at all until he’s cool.

B) Let him drink only small amounts at a time.

C) Let him drink as much as he wants to.

2. True or false: You can check your horse for dehydration simply by pinching the skin on his neck or shoulder between your thumb and index finger.

T / F

3. What are electrolytes?

A) Particles in plain water that cool down your horse’s internal temperature.

B) Salts and minerals that conduct electrical impulses in your horse’s body.

C) Essential nutrients that regulate the amount of fat in your horse’s body.

4. True or false: Out on a trail ride, you shouldn’t let your horse drink from a source of muddy water.

T / F

HOW’D YOU DO? (Answers below.)

1. C is correct. It’s OK to let your hot horse drink as much water as he wants to. Experts now say drinking water—even if it’s cold—won’t cause him to colic or develop laminitis, nor is it possible for his stomach to rupture, as once believed. Drinking plenty of cold water helps him rehydrate and cool down. (Learn more of our veterinarian’s cool-down strategies for your horse.) 

2. T is correct. The “pinch test” can reveal dehydration. When you let go, the skin should snap back down immediately. The longer it remains “tented,” the more indication of dehydration. (Check here for a clip-and-save summary of how to check your horse’s vital signs.)

3. B is correct. The main electrolytes are sodium and chloride (the components of table salt); their purpose is to conduct electrical impulses in your horse’s body. Electrolytes are lost through sweat. (Does plain salt provide enough electrolytes? Check here for a full primer on electrolytes for horses.)

4. F is correct. The important thing on a trail ride is to keep your horse hydrated, so you should let him drink even from muddy puddles if he wants to. Horses often prefer warmer puddles of water to ice-cold running streams. (Learn more hydration and cool-down tips for the trail horse.)

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