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Ep. 065: What Can Happen If Horses Don’t Drink Enough Water

Co-hosts Dr. Tania Cubitt and Katy Starr discuss how important water is to horses, how to identify signs of dehydration and more.

Episode Notes

**Hidden somewhere in this episode, Dr. Cubitt answers a very specific question Katy asks (you’ll know when you hear it). Be one of the first 10 people to email with the answer for your chance to win Standlee free product coupons.** 


On this episode, co-hosts Dr. Tania Cubitt and Katy Starr discuss how much water a horse needs to drink to avoid dehydration, how to tell if a horse is dehydrated, if horses on pasture have different water requirements from horses on an all-hay diet, suggestions on how to clean water troughs and tanks, and the best ideas to keep water from freezing in the winter.


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Katy Starr (00:01):

Hi, I'm Katy.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (00:02):

And I'm Dr. Cubitt. We're going Beyond the Barn. Come join us on this journey as we bust equine and livestock nutrition myths, and interview some of the most intriguing experts in the country.


Katy Starr (00:15):

We'll go behind the scenes of how premium Western quality forage is grown and brought to your favorite farm and ranch retail store. We're so glad you're here. 


Welcome back to another episode of Beyond the Barn, Dr. Cubitt. Thanks for being here with me today.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (00:33):

Oh, as always, I'm glad to be back, Katy.


Katy Starr (00:36):

We are going to be discussing something that's really, really important to, obviously I think everything but even our horses. Today we're going to be talking about water. Water for the summer, water for the winter. And so I don't think we've touched on, we've touched on it here and there in different episodes, but I think this is the first one that we've kind of given water its own episode, which I think will be a really good talk today.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (01:03):

Oh yeah. It's so important. You know, as we are actually recording this, the southern part of the country is definitely going through an immense heat wave. And so water, talking about water and supplying water is I think very timely. 


Katy Starr (01:20):

Right and right before we get started, I would like to say that any of the topics we cover on the Beyond the Barn Podcast are more generalized and not specific to any individual horse or any specific situation. So be sure to always work with your veterinarian and nutritionist before making any drastic changes to your horse's feed program. Or you can reach out to us to talk directly with Dr. Cubitt or Dr. Duren on any specifics that you'd like to know. How important is water compared to all the nutrients a horse requires in their diet and what exactly does it do for the horse's body?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (02:00):

Well, in one word, it's critical, second only to oxygen. It's more important than anything the horse will eat. Water is absolutely critical. About 70% of the adult horse's body. So you know, for a thousand pound horse that's 770 pounds or 96 gallons. For that 1100 pound horse is water. A foals body has even higher water content. About 80% of a foal is water. So it's important for all cellular function, biochemical pathways, kidney function, blood function water is absolutely critical.


Katy Starr (02:40):

Right. Can an increase in intake of other nutrients, increase a horse's water requirements?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (02:50):

Yes. So fiber is the primary ingredient in the horse's diet that can increase water intake. So if your horse has been eating a lot of fiber, that will encourage them to drink water. So with a horse that's dehydrated, the first thing I ask is, you know, how much fiber have they been eating, dry fiber? So that as a nutrient will increase their water requirements.


Katy Starr (03:15):

Excellent. And then are there any medical issues or diseases that might cause a horse to need to drink more water?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (03:25):

So there are two issues in a horse that either cause a horse to need to drink more water or the disease itself makes the horse drinks more water. Cushings, PPID, pituitary pars intermediate dysfunction, which we know as a tumor on the horse's brain, one of the symptoms of that disease is polydipsia. I.e. they drink a lot of water and they pee a lot. If a horse has kidney disfunction, then they will also drink a lot of water because they're really struggling. The kidneys are struggling to function and in order for the kidney to filter the blood and filter all the toxins out of the body, they need that water. So a kidney dysfunction in a horse may force them to drink more water as well. So we often get the question about protein and a horse with kidney problems, and I know I'm going off topic a little bit, protein itself will not cause a horse to have kidney issues, but the kidney is what processes protein.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (04:28):

And if the horse has a lot of protein and has a kidney issue, then they're going to drink a lot more water to flush it out. Horses you will notice that horses that eat alfalfa, for example, it's very high-end protein and they'll process all the protein they need and then they have to flush out the excess protein kind of gets converted to ammonia and they need to flush that out of the body. So a horse that's eating excess amounts of protein will also drink a lot of water. Not that that is bad, you know, a horse just eating a lot of extra protein from alfalfa. But you also might, may want to investigate if there is a kidney issue if your horse is drinking a lot of water.


Katy Starr (05:11):

Interesting. Okay. And then what if like, let's say a horse has like chronic diarrhea or something like that. Would that probably be a situation where you'd definitely want him?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (05:21):

Yes. That would be a mechanical issue, yes. Okay. There's free fecal water syndrome. So where they have formed manure and then just water flowing out or diarrhea. Absolutely. That water is not being absorbed. So it's being expelled from the body. You have to make sure that you're not seeing it transiently. You will see those things sometimes in the spring where we get a shift in the water content of the pasture. So it might just be a shift in the horse's kind of homeostasis in the body. But if it lasts longer than say a few days, then there is an issue and you need to make sure that your horse is drinking enough to account for the extra that's being excreted.


Katy Starr (06:09):

Right. Excellent. Okay. And then speaking of actually pasture, how does the water requirement differ for a horse with, let's say they have 24 hour access to fresh pasture compared to maybe one that is kind of in a dry lot? They have no pasture access and they're pretty much on an all hay diet to meet their fiber requirements.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (06:30):

The water requirements still the same. It's five to 15 gallons a day, but a horse that's on pasture, which is at times of the year, 60 to 80% moisture, they'll probably be at the lower end of that five to 15 gallons versus the horse on a dry lot eating completely dry hay, maybe on that higher end because they aren't getting any moisture out of that pasture.


Katy Starr (06:53):

Excellent. Okay. And then how long can horses go without water?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (06:59):

48 hours. Well, I asked somebody, I asked Dr. Duren that question earlier and he said until they die, but that would happen in about 48 hours.


Katy Starr (07:09):

Yeah. Which isn't very long. It's really, it's such a short amount of time just, and that honestly, that just goes to show how incredibly important water is and making sure that horses do have access to clean, fresh water for them. Yeah. And then what can happen to a horse if it doesn't drink enough water? I mean, obviously we know the 48 hour outcome, right? But what other things can we see go wrong?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (07:38):

Correct. On the path to dying after 48 hours, we go through different phases of dehydration, and dehydration in horses occurs much more rapidly than in other animals or even in people. So dehydration is the, the big thing that we want to avoid.


Katy Starr (07:57):

And what kind of impact does it have on a horse? Let's say they are drinking water, but maybe not enough or maybe at certain times they're not drinking water when they need to be. What kind of relation to impaction colic is there from not drinking enough water?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (08:15):

Oh, so when, especially when you refer to impaction colic, we see that most often in the fall when we have a shift in pasture moisture, right? They're eating a lot of pasture; they go off pasture. Maybe we've taken them off for the winter or that we've just had a hard frost and it's dried out that pasture and now they're eating more hay and the hay is 95% dry matter and very low moisture content. And so we just see a very rapid shift in the water intake and they haven't kind of adjusted their drinking of water yet. So when it comes to impaction colic, we really, it's just a shift in there. It's usually seasonal.


Katy Starr (08:59):

Right, okay.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (09:00):

As far as dehydration though, and the other signs that we see early on, you know, you'll see first of all just a decrease in performance. But if we're looking for more specific things, an increase in heart rate, increase in respiration rate, dry gums and eyes, it increases their risk for heat stroke or the tolerance of temperature. It also increases their risk for tying up. So we really want to make sure that we avoid dehydration. You can test whether they're dehydrated or the level of dehydration by pinching their skin on the neck where you would give an injection. You, there's kind of that triangle there and you can pinch the skin and skin elasticity decreases when a horse is dehydrated as well. because Remember that water makes up all of the, the cells and how quickly that skin will snap back into place. If it takes longer than two seconds, we know the horse is dehydrated.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (10:01):

You can put your thumb on their gum right underneath it. So curl their lip up, put your thumb, press it hard on their gum and watch how quickly the blood comes back. They call it capillary refill time again, three seconds or more. And the horse is dehydrated because the blood is low in water and it's taking a long and it becomes more viscous and less fluid and it takes longer to come back to that area. So there's some of the physical signs of dehydration. The worst case once you know, is your horse normally sweats and if they stop sweating, that is also another really serious symptom of dehydration and heat stroke. Right.


Katy Starr (10:44):

When it seems like they're in a point where they should be sweating and they're not, there's a problem. Yes. Yeah.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (10:49):



Katy Starr (10:50):

Excellent. No, that's great. I mean, just knowing what to look for if your horse is dehydrated. I think it's important that we talk about those. So as we kind of work our way into travel, because sometimes that can be difficult. You can be on the road for, you know, hours at a time. What are some tips that we have for watering horses during travel? How often should we be stopping? What does that look like for traveling with our horses?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (11:17):

Well, I think it's setting horses up for success. And so, you know, when you're going to travel most of the time and so 12 hours prior to them traveling, you really want to kind of hyperhydrate them, get them drinking a lot of water, make sure they have access to cool, clean, fresh water and that they're drinking, don't provide electrolytes within 12 hours of them traveling. because That's going to make them want to drink more water. And if they get on the trailer and there's not water available, then that can be detrimental. But more than 12 hours prior. So in that 24 hour, like earlier than 12 hours prior to them traveling, that's when you would provide electrolytes if you want to really get them to drink more water, but make sure they have access to water for that 12 hours prior to traveling. And then once you start traveling, we recommend for a number of reasons, not only just to drink water, but to move around, to put their head down every four hours that you should stop and allow them to drink water. No, it doesn't mean you're taking them off the trailer, but you're providing them, allowing them to drink water. 


Katy Starr (12:27):

Okay, excellent. And then we all know that sometimes it can be difficult, especially if you're going to a new place, if your horse can be picky, it can be hard to get them to drink water sometimes. So what are some tips that you have to get a horse to drink more water if they're not drinking enough? And this goes for, maybe it's the same for summer and winter, but if there's anything for either or, it would be great to hear your ideas. 


Dr. Tania Cubitt (12:52):

Well, the simplest thing that you can do is just add a tablespoon or two of salt, plain, white salt to their feed. Right. You know that if you eat salty foods, you want to drink more water. That would be a simple thing. If it's more of a, they don't like the taste of the water when they go to a new location, then flavor the water at home for a few days prior to going. And then when you get to the destination where there's the funky water that they don't like, you continue using that flavoring and that will mask a hopefully mask the whatever taste they don't like. I mean, I know myself, I'm really picky with water. I grew up on rainwater and then some well water to me tastes like rotten eggs and I don't like it at all, so I get it. But you know, other people suggested using an RV filter on the hose, but if you don't have access to that or you can't affect the hose at the location you go to, then yeah, just flavoring the water. I never recommend putting electrolytes in the water because we want to make sure, you know, if the bucket of electrolyte that you're using says they need two ounces and you put two ounces in the bucket, then maybe they don’t drink the whole bucket and you tip it out because it gets too hot or it gets contaminated and you just didn't know whether they ate at all. So we never like to put electrolytes in the water. 


Katy Starr (14:20):

Okay and then what are some reasons that I guess a horse might stop drinking water?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (14:27):

Other than, I think most of the reasons horses stop drinking water more mechanical or physiological of the water. It's too hot, it's too cold, it's smells, it's dirty, there's contaminants in it. Maybe the water heater that you're using is sending a slight electrical charge into the water. They don't like the location. The location is, like, maybe it's a herd situation and the water trough is in the corner of the field and the submissive horse always feels like they're going to get attacked if it's in the corner. Never put it in the corner. Always put it on a fence line where they're easy at kind of escape route for the horses.


Katy Starr (15:12):

Getaway access. . Excellent. And I know this is kind of a random question, but can horses drink too much water at one time? Has this ever been an issue in your experience? 


Dr. Tania Cubitt (15:26):

You know, there's a, you know, I don't like to use the word wives’ tale because I don't think women come up with these crazy things. , there is a myth that, you know, people will say after extra heavy exercise, don't let your horse drink water or don't let it drink cold water. I will guarantee that most horses are not going to over drink to their kind of bodily capacity. They're not going to do that. There was some research that looked at feeding horses salt and whether they, and affecting their water intake. And no horses in that study drank too much water. I know that dehydration in horses can happen very rapidly and can have very significant impacts on the horse. So I am never opposed to always supplying water to horses.


Katy Starr (16:17):

I think that's excellent. I was thinking about that when I was researching this, and I only say that because, and I know it happens occasionally, but very, very unfortunately, there was a woman last month that passed because she drank...


Dr. Tania Cubitt (16:34):

Yeah. You saw Facebook too.


Katy Starr (16:34):

Yes, yes. And, and it's crazy to think about it and it's, I think people don't always realize…


Dr. Tania Cubitt (16:41):

Very, very rare.


Katy Starr (16:42):

Right. Very rare when you think about, you know, how we always talk about how like, you know, chemical, everybody, you know, sometimes people think chemicals are bad and stuff and that's, but like that and…


Dr. Tania Cubitt (16:50):

That was an electrolyte imbalance with her because she…


Katy Starr (16:53):



Dr. Tania Cubitt (16:53):

If she was drinking water with electrolytes in it, not just plain water, then it may not have happened, but yes. No. 


Katy Starr (17:00):

Right. And the fact that she drinks so much of it in a short period of time. And like, it just goes to show though too, like besides that imbalance is like, you know, the dose makes the poison, right. Too much of anything can be a bad thing. And I say this to kind of lead us into the rest of our conversation as we begin talking about some other tips that we'll be talking about. So it was just an interesting side note that I had when I was doing this, some research on this. And I was like, man, that's just, it's kind of a crazy thing to think about.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (17:32):



Katy Starr (17:32):

And then, okay, so going into actually the next one, we wanted to kind of look at some horse owner suggestions for cleaning water troughs. because That can be really hard in the summer. And you know, the algae growth that kind of can build up on the tanks. There are certain algae types that can be bad for horses or I think anybody, right?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (17:58):

Decreased palatability for sure.


Katy Starr (17:59):

Yeah. Yeah. And so anyway, so one of the things I think many horse owners have heard about is goldfish as an idea to clean water.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (18:09):

Yeah. Goldfish are fickle. I mean it's, so easy, how many goldfish have been flushed down the toilet? Goldfish die all the time. And that study said that goldfish in particular weren't effective because they died. And so they weren't able to keep up with the algae production because they kept dying. So, you know, growing up in Australia it wasn't necessarily goldfish, but there were other fish that people used and, and this study didn't look at other fish, they just looked at goldfish.


Katy Starr (18:39):

Oh really?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (18:40):

So maybe other fish aren't as fickle. I mean the idea sounds like it should work, but in that particular study it did not work. You're also got to worry about birds trying to pick those goldfish out because they're gold, easy targets.


Katy Starr (18:54):

Right. They kind of stand out.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (18:55):

I think there's other ways. There's other ways.


Katy Starr (18:57):

Right. Yeah. And that was that study at the University of Minnesota. Right? And this, I've seen in a number of different places, mouthwash like the blue mint kind, they talk about making sure that it's like the Listerine one where it actually kills germs, not just the one that makes your breath smell fresh, but either like Listerine or the generic version. 


Dr. Tania Cubitt (19:18):

Yeah. And I, look, I don't know much about mouthwash, but I did see that same picture before and after. I don’t know that there's been any research per se on mouthwash in the tanks, but the pictures certainly looked compelling. 


Katy Starr (19:34):

Right, right. And I've seen a couple different places, they talked about using like two capsules per like a hundred gallon tank. So I, this is also kind of interesting to me. So for any of you that are listening, we would love for you to, you could email us if you want to share, if you have ideas or if you've had any of these ideas work for you and you're like, yes, this has worked super well, let us know because this is something we could come back and touch on as well. But cleaning your tank using bleach, that's I think a, a common cleaning method for horse tanks.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (20:15):

Yeah. And it's just super dilute. 


Katy Starr (20:18):

Right. And I think the University of Minnesota was talking about, you know, when you're using, if you use bleach to clean out your horse tanks to make sure it's like an unscented household bleach. And if you choose to add it to the water after the fact, which in anybody's mind they hear about adding bleach to water, that anything is going to be drinking out of, like your first thought is like, what? No way. Like you can't drink that. But that's how they, isn't that how they keep things clean like city water and stuff like that? So like, again, like two to three ounces per 100 gallons I think is the, the safety net there on adding that to kind of help keep too much algae from building up before you…


Dr. Tania Cubitt (20:57):

Yep. Mm-Hmm. .  And I think that they also said if the water is less than 50 degrees, so if it's really cool water that you would let the horses wait at least two hours before drinking out of it. Right. And regular tap water wait just an hour before letting the horses drink out of it. And that actually allows the chlorine to dissipate. Like it does its job and then it dissipates. So.


Katy Starr (21:23):

Excellent. I'm so glad that you mentioned that. Yeah. That's important. Other things that I heard were some people were talking about like apple cider vinegar and baking soda and I am, I haven't had any personal experience with that, but that's another idea.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (21:38):

I haven't either. And I would just be nervous that, I know like the bleach will dissipate. That's what it's meant to do. Vinegar might taint the water that might be a taste that a horse would not want. And same with the baking soda. So, you know, each to their own, neither of the bleach, no vinegar or baking soda aren't going to hurt your horse, but just make sure that it doesn't decrease palatability of the water.


Katy Starr (22:01):

Right. Yeah. because We definitely need to keep that in mind. For sure. And as we're talking about some of these things too, I also want people to keep in mind, be cautious how you mix things. Like don't be mixing things with bleach or don't be using bleach with goldfish or, you know things like that. Let's make sure that we pay attention to those things before…


Dr. Tania Cubitt (22:21):

That's going to kill the goldfish.


Katy Starr (22:22):

Yeah. Yeah. That'll do it. And then, you know, there's the, the good old, you know, elbow grease with a wire brush scrubbing it, getting it taken care of. Yeah.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (22:33):

I mean I think that there's nothing that beats a good scrubbing of the tank and then using a bleach solution and then rinsing it all out and putting your fresh water in. But I do also understand in areas where water is a very rare commodity, like a very drought area that dumping out a, you know, a hundred gallon tank can be hard every day to clean it is wasteful. So I think, depending on the area.


Katy Starr (23:06):

Well I wonder if that's the case. Like if you notice that's regularly happening, maybe just don't fill it up as high too. That could help too. So one thing that I saw, and I know how this works in ponds, so this is why I'm bringing it up, but somebody was saying this with horse tanks, so I wanted to get your opinion on it. Barley straw in ponds can be, there's something that it releases when it's, and it's got to specifically be barley straw that helps keep algae from growing. What is your thought about putting that in a horse tank?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (23:46):

You know what, I have never heard that. And so I was quickly googling. 


Katy Starr (23:51):

That's, I honestly, I saw, I saw it in one spot…


Dr. Tania Cubitt (23:53):

While you're asking about that.


Katy Starr (23:53):

Yeah. I saw it in one…


Dr. Tania Cubitt (23:55):

And Penn State extension says barley straw is most effective when applied early in the year prior to the appearance of algae fall through early spring when applied to, applied to cold water less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It may take six to eight weeks for the straw to begin producing the active chemicals that inhibit algae growth. So there you go again. When it breaks down and it's releasing those chemicals, I don't know whether they would change the palatability of the water and I don’t know whether then it's safe for horses or livestock to drink. This was just more for ponds.


Katy Starr (24:39):

Ponds. Right, right. And that's what I've heard with ponds. And I knew that, but that's why I was like, I just wonder what the aspect of being in a tank for livestock, horses and then if the water level's low enough, like I don't know why they would, it doesn't seem appealing to me, but do you think they would eat it?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (24:57):

Oh, there's always a horse that's going to eat it.


Katy Starr (24:59):

. There's going to be that one, that one that does it. Right. Yeah. And so anyway, I just thought that was super interesting when I saw that, I was like, huh. Okay. And then the other thing I think that can become an issue with having horses is you always have that horse that likes to right, especially right after you refill water in the water. They'll just poop in the tank. And I saw some people sharing ideas about, and obviously I think it depends on the size of tank that you have. So you have to keep that in mind with stability and everything, but just being able to put that tank up higher at a higher level so they can still drink out of it, but it's not going to sit there at their tail.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (25:38):

Or move your feeding station away from your water. Because typically they do it..


Katy Starr (25:44):

When it's in close proximity.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (25:44):

When they've been eating. Yeah. And it happens more for me. I've seen it more stalls they're eating then sometimes they're just rubbing their butt on the bucket as well and they poop in it. But a five gallon bucket is much easier to dump and clean than a giant tank. Yeah.


Katy Starr (26:01):

Yeah, for sure. Okay. Excellent. And now I want to talk about drinking water in the winter because we don't often think about horses not drinking enough in the wintertime, but it's something that we should talk about because it's possible that horses can get dehydrated in the winter as well.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (26:18):

And 100%. And I think this is the time where that dehydration can be more prevalent because people just neglect to think about water in the wintertime. Just because your horse isn't visibly sweating, remember the air is very dry in the wintertime. And so that sweat, if they're sweating after you exercise is so quickly evaporating from them, then most times you are not seeing it. So if you're exercising your horses in the wintertime, then chances are they are sweating, you may not be seeing it. And you do need to make sure that they still always 24 hour access to fresh, clean water that's not too cold in the wintertime. But yes. The wintertime also, we mentioned earlier about impaction colic. So early winter, late fall, we worried about, we worry about impaction colic, we need to make sure that they are drinking enough water to account for drinking, eating all of that dry hay. And if they did have access to fresh pasture prior to that, then they were getting a lot of moisture out of the pasture. They weren't used to drinking so much water, you didn't notice them drinking as much water. So yeah, the wintertime I think is the bigger time for dehydration. And it sounds crazy, but it's just because we're not thinking about it as much.


Katy Starr (27:39):

Right, right. And I'm glad that you touched on it because I was actually just thinking about the fact that you mentioned earlier how important it is to take notice of how much is normal for your horse to drink. But that's probably something that should be evaluated in the summer and the winter because like you just said, if they're off pasture and they're kind of on their lower level water intake when they're on pasture in the wintertime, you're going to probably think, oh, they're just drinking as much as they normally do. But, you got to make sure it's their normal for the winter because they're not having access to that fresh pasture. 


Dr. Tania Cubitt (28:14):

Mm-Hmm. . Yeah, 100%.


Katy Starr (28:16):

And then another horse owner suggestion idea that kind of comes into play with this, I thought would be fun to talk about is how to keep your water troughs from freezing in the winter. So we had, I mean we have some of our, you know, our common ones that we've heard, but there's some other ideas that I thought we could just chat about.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (28:37):

I have the best one. Don't live in a cold climate. You're crazy. .


Katy Starr (28:40):

. That would be, that would be you that would . Don't go to Wisconsin, Minnesota, Canada, Idaho . Because even some of the best tried and true methods, I think if you live in the coldest environments, I think can be tough. But if you live, if you're listening right now and you live in some of these very frigid, cold environments and we don't mention something that you guys use and it works well for you, email us, let us know. But of course, the first one we're going to talk about is a tank heater for your water tanks.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (29:19):

Yeah, I mean you live in Idaho. You're probably more, you're better to talk about tank heaters than I am. 


Katy Starr (29:24):

We use them. Yes. I have, we even use them for our water troughs for our dogs. 


Dr. Tania Cubitt (29:26):

I have the water troughs for my cows that have the, they're the frost-free water troughs where it's all covered and they push a ball down and so they never freeze. And algae doesn't grow in them either, because algae, remember it's the light that causes the algae. So I guess another thing that we didn't talk about, yes. That could be is if placement, if you have a choice of placement of your water trough, maybe put it in a shadier area, could decrease the, the sunlight that's helping that algae grow. But I know that's a side note. Yeah. Why don't you talk about tank heaters? I don't know anything about them.


Katy Starr (30:01):

Well, and I was actually going to mention, since you, since you said something about it in the winter, you might want to switch it up and make sure that your water's in the sun rather being in the shade, the warm. So if you have the option, summer - shade, winter -  sun, it'll help you that way. But yeah, with tank heaters, we do use them, they work well. We're not in frigid, cold weather. It does, you know, we'll sometimes have a week or two where we'll be in like single digits occasionally get down to negatives, but not, it's not bad. Not bad compared to lots of other parts of the country. But for us it works really well. But we also do have like the galvanized tanks. One thing that, while I was researching this, I had no clue, didn't even think about, we don't use the rubber tanks. So it wasn't a thought in my mind, but I saw where tank heater was put into like a rubber trough, but like the basket thing that usually goes around it to separate it off from the rubber wasn't there. And it


Dr. Tania Cubitt (31:01):

Melted the water trough…


Katy Starr (31:02):

It melted into the ground 100%. It was completely just dissolved into the ground.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (31:06):

Oh wow.


Katy Starr (31:07):

So, you know, keep that in mind. And some of the tips that they were talking about with that was just making sure that, you know, follow the instructions on the tank heater that you receive, make sure you're using it correctly. I know that can be tough if you're getting it secondhand or something like that. But you know, Google in some of these instances can be very much your friend using other people as resources who have used those in the, in the past of how to use them correctly just to make sure that doesn't happen. because What if your water tank happens to be up against like, you know, your barn or like, you know, anything or your fence, your wood fence, you know, you just don't want that to happen. Another thing that I've seen occasionally, and I don't know how well this works or not, but like putting salt water in bottles and putting them in the tanks. Have you heard of that?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (31:59):

I have not heard of that, but I don't live in a cold climate, but I imagine salt water floats so the bottles float. And maybe it stops the freezing, the layer on the top. Someone from Wisconsin needs to write in. 


Katy Starr (32:11):

Right. And let us know. Well I did hear that…


Dr. Tania Cubitt (32:13):

I'm out of my element.


Katy Starr (32:14):

In the very, the colder states. This might be something that would work possibly for a state that it gets cold, like maybe like right at a round freezing, because I've heard people say that definitely does not work like in places like Wisconsin and stuff like that. This one I thought was kind of weird and interesting, but compost bedding for insulation, like around the bottom of the tank.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (32:38):

So here is what I have done with my goat water is because I bought one of those calf hutch things for my goats. Oh my God. These goats that are pets, they're really useless, but they, I've spent a fortune on them and they don't really drink out of the cow waters or those ball waters. And they don't like to come out of their little shelter when it's cold. So I put a tire in their little shelter and I stuff the tire with straw. And then I put my five gallon bucket inside the tire. Number one, it stops them knocking it over. Because they're terrible like that. And it does offer a little insulation and the ground is warm, so it helps to keep it from freezing. But yeah, it's, it has stopped inside their little shelter and in the tire with the straw. It has stopped it from freezing. Now I imagine the compost bedding while compost as it's breaking down, right, it's creating heat. 


Katy Starr (33:36):

Right. So it'd be a messy, messy yeah. Kind of option. But I actually saw that a few different times. So I know people are trying it. If you've tried it, let us know. because I would love to hear kind of what your experience with was with it. And then, you know, we talked about tank heater, but we have, especially if you have your horse stalled, heated water buckets are an option in the wintertime. What about uses of like a brand mash or beet pulp for helping your horse?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (34:10):

Yeah, so that's certainly other ways to get moisture into your horse's gut. And I don't love wheat bran. I am more of a proponent of a beet pulp mash, daily, especially, we see it a lot, especially in that transitional period in the fall. So we decrease the risk of impaction call it. But if your horse just doesn't love drinking a lot of water and you really think they need to drink more, then wetting everything, right? Wetting the hay, wetting the feed you're providing, maybe offering a warm beet pulp mash. Now when you're offering some kind of mash, you need to do it every day doing it once a week. Like I have a lot of people say, oh, we do it on a Friday, it makes us feel good. No, you have to do it every day. Doing it once a week is a rapid feeding change and it will give your horse a gastric upset. So make sure you're doing it every day. 


Katy Starr (35:01):

Right. Excellent. And we're getting ready to close out this episode, but we wanted to do something a little bit fun for our listeners. Give back a little bit. And so I'm going to ask Dr. Cubitt a question and she's going to answer it. And whatever her answer is, we would love for you to write in to us at And the first 10 people to email us the answer, of the first 10, one of you will be selected to win some Standlee free product coupons. So be paying attention, write this down. I'm going to link the email in the show notes. So if you're like Katy,, how do you spell that? I mean, I can spell it out right now, but I'm just going to put it in the show notes. You can click on it, send your email. Dr. Cubitt, how many years have you lived in the United States?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (35:54):

Well, I moved here to go to grad school in August of 2001. So we're in August now, and it is 2023. It's been 22 years.


Katy Starr (36:06):

22 years. That's the answer. So when you listen to this, be sure write in to for your chance to win some Standlee free product coupons. And of course, thank you for being listeners of the Beyond the Barn podcast. We love you all so much for being here with us. Dr. Cubitt, as we wrap this episode up, what are your key takeaways that you would like to leave listeners with on the topic of water consumption for horses?


Dr. Tania Cubitt (36:37):

I think number one, always, always, water should be free choice. Cool. Clean, clean, clean, clean, fresh water always should be provided as far as how much your horse will drink. I think we should all be very good at knowing what is normal for our horses. Whether it be how much water they drink, what their temperature is, what the respiration rate is. Every horse on that stall card where it says the vet's number and the owner's number should also have normal respiration rate, temperature and heart rate and amount of water that they drink in a day.


Katy Starr (37:19):

I think that's excellent. And as we are wrapping this episode up, I would love to be able to share with you all, especially some of you who are always asking about, you know, we'd love to see some coupons from Stanley. Now is your time. Do not let it pass without you getting it. But we are doing our Feed Your Passion promotion right now. Buy one Standlee product bagged or compressed bale product and you can save $5. So this lasts from August 1st through September 30th, 2023. That is when the coupon ends. But go to our website, print your coupon so you guys can get some savings. We'd love for you to be able to have this offer. Use it, if you haven't tried Standlee before, but you would love to and you just didn't want to, you know, go ahead and just buy the product like right off the get go. You wanted to try it first. Go use this coupon and try it out. See what you think. Dr. Cubitt, thank you for being on with us today and we appreciate your wisdom.


Dr. Tania Cubitt (38:21):

Thank you so much for having me. 


Katy Starr (38:24):

Thanks for listening to the Beyond the Barn podcast by Standlee Forage. We'd love for you to share our podcast with your favorite people and subscribe on Apple, Spotify, or your favorite listening platform. Until next time, keep your cinch tight and don't forget to turn off the water.



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