Horse Hydration Facts

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Is it OK to turn horses out all day without water' I was told I didn’t need an outside water source, since grass has enough moisture in it to prevent dehydration and a horse will drink enough when he returns to his stall. I’m concerned, though. Six to 10 hours seems like a long stretch to me.

Horse Journal Response

Like all living things, grass is about 75% water. This is true for all stages of growth. Only dead grass would be ”drier.” The horses get a good bit of water when eating grass — but not enough. There are fluid losses in urine, manure, through the respiratory tract and from sweating. They also need extra water to process the drier feeds they are getting — hay and grain. They need free-choice water in addition to what is contained in grass. Ideally, fresh water should be available at all times, and most experts agree a horse should not go without water any longer than four hours to avoid dehydration.

Mosquito Control

A friend of mine is mixing her own insect repellent for her horse, using 50% DEET mixed with 25% water and 25% vinegar. I wasn’t sure DEET was safe for animals, especially horses. I’m also worried about my dogs and cats coming into contact with the mixture. What do you think'

Horse Journal Response

The World Health Organization fact sheet on DEET reports that horses sprayed with 31 grams/day of DEET (a little over 1 oz. of the 100% DEET liquid) developed inflammation of the fat and skin at concentrations of DEET over 15%. The safety of your friend’s mixture depends on how concentrated it actually ends up being, and whether or not the vinegar changes its properties or its absorption in any way. For example, most human DEET products range from 30 to 95% concentration of DEET. Either of those would be risky even if diluted 50%.

Dogs are sensitive to DEET. The highest safe exposure for a dog is 50 mg/kg (22.7 mg/lb). DEET is readily absorbed through the skin. Permethrin is safer, just as effective and will repel the ticks better.

Dirty Buckets

I found the July 2007 article on ending everyday barn annoyances useful. However, I didn’t see a fix to my horse pooping in his water bucket. Any solutions to this problem' 

Horse Journal Response

It sounds too obvious, but the most widely accepted solution is to move the water bucket to another location. You may also want to adjust the height just a tad up. Sometimes it’s a great deal of work to figure out where to put it, but it’s about the only thing that will work.

Redmond Salt

I use Redmond salt as my horse’s main electrolyte source. What do you think of this practice'

Horse Journal Response

Redmond salt is raw, mined salt in the same form as it comes out of the ground. The traces of other minerals in it (which salt manufacturers consider impurities) are what give it that color. Because there is minimal processing, it should be inexpensive. Instead, a lot of ”natural” and health claims (unsubstantiated) are made for it. Many of the minerals contaminating Redmond salt have no function in the body. The ones that do have a function are present in such small amounts they don’t come close to meeting a horse’s needs. Calcium, for example, is in the highest concentration, but at most the level is 0.85%. An ounce of Redmond salt contains 0.24 grams of calcium, about 1/100th of the horse’s minimum daily requirement. The only mineral in there at a significant level is iron, but iron is virtually never deficient in any equine diet. The iron level is 100 times higher than copper or zinc, both of which are common deficiencies. In short, we’ll pass.