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by Downunder Horsemanship

Keep Your Horse’s Dehydration at Bay

By Ritchie Industries

In general, there are two simple tests you can do to assess how well your horse is hydrated – the skin pinch and the capillary refill.

As a horse becomes dehydrated, the skin elasticity decreases. The skin pinch involves taking a fold of skin from the neck, just above the shoulder, and lifting it up. If your horse is hydrated, it should snap back in place quickly. If your horse’s skin tents up or doesn’t snap back, then this is a symptom of dehydration.

The second test is the capillary refill. You should lift the upper lip of your horse and do a visual inspection of the gums above the teeth. The gums should be pink, shiny, moist and slippery. Then, you should press your thumb against the gums, release your thumb and count how long it takes for the gums to go from a pale, white color to their normal pink color. Normal capillary refill time is under two seconds.

“One of the biggest indicators of water consumption is to monitor how well your horse is eating,” says Bob Coleman, Ph.D., associate professor and equine extension specialist at University of Kentucky. “One of the first things you’ll notice with a horse not drinking enough water is that their dry matter intake will slow down. First, check to make sure your bucket or automatic waterer is clean, and then you need to check if anything is changing the palatability of the water.”

For more information about Ritchie Industries and their automatic waterers, visit their website.