It’s certainly convenient to have a natural water source for your horses.??Most horse owners appreciate farms with safe ponds or, better yet, running streams. Some horsemen worry, however, that natural water sources aren’t healthy.
A healthy horse with a normal stomach will be able to handle naturally occurring levels of bacteria as long as the water isn’t stagnant. A pond fed by deep streams is the ideal.??
However, you also need to keep in mind that streams attract wildlife, so you must weigh the convenience of the pond against the chances you may be drawing in possums carrying EPM, all sorts of wildlife and birds that may bring such things as salmonella along with them, and deer with ticks that could harbor Lyme disease.??
If you’re in an agricultural area, you also have to worry about chemical contamination of a pond.?? Ground-water runoff, surface streams feeding the pond or water entering from underground streams located close to the surface are easily contaminated with nitrates and/or pesticides and herbicides, which may be sprayed by neighboring farmers.??
Pesticide/herbicide testing is expensive, but it’s worth asking your county if they offer this service.??Nitrate test kits are inexpensive, easy to use and usually available at hardware stores and water-testing companies.?? If you have dangerous nitrate levels, this alone is reason not to allow horses to use the pond.?? It’s also an indirect indicator of contamination from field runoff, which could contain other harmful chemicals.