Any treatise on caring for horses that your customers have ever read probably includes one simple line: “Provide access to plenty of fresh, clean water.”
Though we all understand that this is good advice — after all, all living things need this simple, essential liquid — your clients probably don’t tend to give water a lot of consideration when it comes to planning the equine diet.
The reality is that water is the most important nutrient, bar none. Without water, almost all of a horse’s systems cease to function. It would be virtually impossible to list all the ways in which water is essential — but just to name a few, it:
To give you another perspective on water’s importance, consider that horses can survive without food for up to 3 weeks. However, they can only survive without water for a maximum of 5 or 6 days.
Water intake varies according to the horse’s exertion level, the ambient temperature, diet and whether or not a mare is pregnant or nursing a foal. Regardless, horses drink a lot. The typical 1,000-pound horse needs a minimum of 3 to 8 gallons a day to function at a maintenance level.…