As the weather turns colder, the last thing on your mind is probably dehydration. That’s only a summer problem right? However, horses’ baseline requirements for hydration still need to be met all year. They do tend to drink less when it is cold and their diets are also a bit dryer in winter as grass intake is reduced and more of their diet is made up of hay and haylage. Both of these factors can increase the risk of impaction colic occurring.

Strategies for avoiding dehydration

An excellent tactic is feeding a mash, either adding it into their daily routine or as part of their normal diet. SPEEDY-Mash and Senior Super-Mash hold up to one and half times their volume in water – so a great choice for aiding hydration and you can be assured you are increasing water intake.

When to feed a mash?

Whilst mashes are an excellent addition in the winter, they are also suitable year round in a variety of instances - increasing both water and highly-digestible fibre intake.

For senior horses with poor teeth a mash would be a good choice as it is very easy to eat and requires little to no chewing. A high fibre based mash, such as SPEEDY-Mash or Senior Super-Mash, is particularly good for horses that can no longer eat any or very little long stem forage as the mash will help ensure adequate fibre intake as well as water. Both our mashes can be used as partial or complete forage replacers. If being fed as a complete forage replacement we suggested feeding at a rate of 1.7-2.3% of total bodyweight per day dependent on body condition.

Performances horses would also benefit from feeding mash. For horses that can be fussy with water, when travelling long distances or extended stays away from home, a mash could be helpful to rehydrate them. Always offer plain water too, however, additional water can always be added to the mash to make a soup-like consistency that the horses can slurp and drink. It’s a super technique to get them hydrated and a great tool for long journeys or in hot weather. Furthermore, horses at greater risk of muscle myopathies or digestive upsets could be aided by the increased water and fibre intake from a mash feed.

Fussy feeders could benefit from SPEEDY or Super-mash in their diet, whether as a replacement or an addition to their existing feed. The apple aroma is simply irresistible and a great aid for palatability. Maintaining weight on a fussy feeder can be a challenge so having a feed that they really love is essential.

Things to remember

-Ensure that your horse has access to clean drinking water at all times. Some horses prefer drinking slightly warm (not hot) water in the winter and find it more palatable.

-Avoid feeding mashes as a ‘one off’, for example feeding a warm mash on a cold evening. The horse’s digestive system is very sensitive and sudden changes to the feed regime can lead to digestive upset. Make any changes to diet gradually.

-Both SPEEDY-Mash and Super-Mash are fortified feeds, which means that when fed at the recommended ration they will provide your horse with a broad spectrum of nutrients, eliminating the need for a balancer.

-If you are still unsure if you wish to add a mash into your horse’s current diet please get in touch with us via the Care-Line as our nutritionists will be able to advise you on the correct feeding rate for your horse.