DRINKING

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One of the concerns every horseowner has (rightfully) is 'will my horse drink when camping?'. Personally, I've never seen a horse die from dehydration because he wouldn't drink. But sometimes one has to help 'em along in DECIDING to drink!

Bonnie Davis

Water is different in every place. My old trail horse Sig would drink readily in horsecamps that had piped in water. But bring him a bucket a water from a stream and he'd sip at it, look at me and then seem to say: "What are you trying to do, poison me?". Sig was used to 'home water'. Water in the barn which was city water. City water has all kinds of 'stuff' added to it by the water company. So a clean stream flowing through or across a meadow was 'different' to him -- it had no added chemicals.

Usually after a couple hours Sig would drink. Then he'd tip the bucket over to let me know that he didn't really like the water but he'd drink it anyway! So to help your horse make up his mind to drink, here's a few tips I've used.

Try carrots or apples. Grate up a couple carrots or apples into an empty milk carton. Add water to about two inches from the top. Put in freezer. When it gets slushy, stir so the carrots and apples are distributed throughout the carton. Freeze hard. Then dump into a water bucket, add camp water and hang on the fence or a post for horse to test. The water carton will begin to melt and the horse gets the taste of carrots or apples in the water. Or just dump a small can of apple or carrot juice into the water bucket and stir. If one takes the hard frozen milk carton and wraps it in a few layers of newspaper and then buries in the bottom of the camp cooler, the carton will stay frozen for up to two or three days. Plus the frozen carton helps to keep an ice chest cool.

The next time a bucket of water is offered, toss in a couple handfulls of sweet feed or oats into the bottom. Then slowly fill the bucket with water from camp hose or dip into steam. Fill about 6 inches. Let it set for about 10 - 15 minutes or while on your ride. The sweet feed taste will 'flavor' the water. When ready to water, fill up to about 3/4's full. Give to horse.

Feed tubs are larger than water pails. Before a ride, put hay into a haynet and then stuff the haynet to be fed after the ride into the tub. Fill tub to top with water. Leave it in the water while on the ride. When back in camp, lift hay out of tub but leave it in tub. Water not soaked into the hay will drain back into tub. When ready to feed horse, hang net on trailer or post or where you usually feed your horse and let him eat the water soaked hay. He not only gets fed, but has wet hay to eat -- easier to chew and after eating the horse will drink less water from a bucket because he's already 'ate' some water. (It's a lot of like eating cereal, eat a bowl of cereal without milk and you'll drink more milk afterwards than you'd normally put on cereal. Pour the milk on the cereal, and you'll use less milk.)

I have this 'idea' about horsecamping -- if I can't use something two ways, I won't take it camping! Space is a premium when camping....... 

Safe Trails!
Bonnie & Nic
horsecamping@comcast.net