Find Cash in Your Tack BoxNearly every 4-H horse club and many breed and show organizations now sponsor spring tack sales or swaps. For horse owners these tack sales can bring in some extra cash and they’re also an incentive to clean out tack boxes and tack rooms. If you’re not using it, or if it doesn’t fit – whether it’s tack or show clothing—it should go. Sometimes an item is kept for sentimental reasons but remember that tack and clothing gets dated in a couple of years. For this reason, keeping a show halter from your retired showmanship horse is probably not a good idea. When tack and show clothing are still in style, and if these items are in good shape, you should be able to get at least 50-60 percent of what you paid for it new. Years down the road, when the item is outdated, you’ll likely be fortunate to find a buyer at all. Here are some tips for selling items at an upcoming tack sale:
For more tack sale advice and other practical horse care information go to: www.good-horsekeeping.com. Bio: Laurie Cerny has owned and showed horses for more than 30 years and is a member of AQHA and ARHA. She is a retired journalist and member of American Horse Publications. Her writing and photography has appeared in all of the major equine publications. In addition, she worked as a newspaper journalist for over 25 years, and was an adjunct college English/Journalism instructor. Laurie is editor and publisher of good-horsekeeping.com and owns a small horse farm in Michigan with her partner, Dennis. Her weekly blogs on efficient and practical horse care can be read at good-horsekeeping.blogspot.com. You can tweet her at https://twitter.com/goodhorsekeepin , or email her at
Photo for article, courtesy of NWHS saddle/chairPhoto for bio, courtesy of Laurie Cerny
Published in March 2013 Issue
A look at factors surrounding water intake for optimal equine health
by Dr. Larry Lawrence
The most important nutrient in the horse’s diet is one that is rarely added to feeds: water. Though it is often overlooked in discussions involving equine nutrition, water could be considered the first limiting nutrient of all horses, as they cannot survive for as many days without water as they can without feed.
The amount of water required by the horse is determined by the magnitude of losses of water from its body. These losses occur through feces, urine, respiratory gases, sweat and--in the case of lactating mares--milk.
These losses are affected by the amount, type and quality of the feed consumed; environmental conditions; and the health, physiological state, and physical activity of the horse. Horses will generally consume as much water as they need if given access to a palatable water source.
Horses at rest in a moderate climate will generally consume between three and seven liters of water per 100kg of body weight. This translates to around 4 to 9 gallons for an 1100-pound horse.
Water and Diet
Diet plays a major role in determining voluntary water intake and requirements. As a general rule, water intake is proportional to dry matter intake, but the composition and digestibility of the diet can alter this relationship substantially.
Horses consuming all-hay diets drink more than horses fed a large amount of concentrate coupled with hay or a complete pelleted diet.
In a study conducted by Kentucky Equine Research, horses fed all-forage diets ate 19 percent more dry matter to provide a similar caloric intake to those fed a mixed diet, and they drank 26 percent more water.
In another study, horses fed 13 lbs. of a hay-only diet drank 40 lbs. or 5 gallons of water, compared to 22 lbs. or a little over 2.5 gallons of water consumed by horses fed 4 lbs. grain plus 3 lbs. hay, which was partly because of lower dry matter intake in addition to the different dietary composition.
Fiber intake affects water requirements for two reasons:
In a digestibility study, horses fed alfalfa hay in a long-stem form had significantly wetter feces (81.5 percent versus 75.2 percent) than when an identical amount of the same forage was fed in a pelleted form.
Diet can also affect urinary water loss. High salt intake increases urine output and stimulates thirst. Also, protein intake above the horse’s requirement increases water intake and urinary output as the horse voids excess nitrogen via urine. Besides increasing water requirements, this creates an environmental hazard for stalled horses since the nitrogen in urine is broken down into ammonia in the horse’s bedding.
Body condition can affect water intake as well. Because fat is low in water content compared to lean body tissue, obese animals typically require less water than animals maintained at a more optimal body condition.
Ambient temperature influences water intake. Horses typically drink less water in cold weather. Water consumption of weanlings exposed to cold temperatures--18o F and 1o F--was compared to that of weanlings housed in temperatures of 46o F and above. Water intake was up to 14 percent lower in weanlings maintained in cold temperatures.
Heat and humidity increase water requirements, especially in exercising horses. In one trial, daily water intake increased 79 percent when horses transitioned from a thermoneutral environment (68o F and 45-50 percent relative humidity) to a hot, humid one (91-95o F and 80-85 percent relative humidity).
In addition to temperature and humidity, other factors impact water intake of equine athletes, primarily duration and intensity of work as well as acclimation of the horse to the environment. Depending on the conditions in which a horse is exercised, total water intake by a 1000lb horse could reach more than 24 gallons per day.
Aside from equine athletes, lactating mares drink more water than other horses. Increased intake is likely due to a combination of factors, principally the fluid losses associated with milk secretion and the increased consumption of feed to support milk production. Though other factors such as diet composition and ambient temperature will play a role in volume of water consumed, 1100lb lactating mares may drink up to 19.5 gallons per day.
Illness and Health
Certain illnesses predispose a horse to increased water consumption. A horse with diarrhea but with normal appetite and thirst might have incredible fecal water losses. The horse compensates for fluid losses by boosting water intake and decreasing urine output. Without resolution of the diarrhea, however, dehydration is likely.
Excessive drinking, known as polydipsia, especially when combined with other signs such as hirsutism (excessive hair growth), might be indicative of Equine Cushing’s Disease or renal insufficiency.
Though often neglected in nutrition discussions, water is vital for the health and well-being of all horses. As such, horses should have access to fresh water at all times.
About the Author
Dr. Larry A. Lawrence
Senior Nutritionist, Kentucky Equine Research
A native of Georgia, Lawrence received an M.S. in animal sciences from the University of Georgia and his Ph.D. from the University of Florida in equine nutrition. Dr. Lawrence spent five years on the faculty of Washington State University, where he was the director of the teaching and extension horse programs. He joined the faculty of Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1991, where he was an associate professor of animal sciences and the extension horse specialist. Dr. Lawrence leads the Kentucky Equine Research technical staff and provides support for KER Team Members and their customers through research, formulation, and technical field service. He has presented seminars throughout the US and Canada and has been an invited speaker in Australia and Europe.
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