Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Horses Drinking

It's a cold, gray day, with a strong wind from the east, and we're expecting some freezing rain later in the afternoon, so all the horses are in their rain sheets. To add to the parade of blankets (even though we didn't get to rain sheets in that post), Scout and Joe have new, lovely, Brookside rain sheets. Their coverage is good - the sides are nice and long, and the shoulder gussets are generous. I've had Brookside rain sheets myself in the past and have had good experience with them.

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While I was filling the water tanks this morning, a number of the horses came up, one at a time, to drink. I love how, although every horse has to do the same thing - make a tube with its lips to suck up the water - every horse has a personal drinking style of gestures, usually before drinking. Dawn always flaps her bottom lip (loudly) in the water several times as she's starting to drink. Sugar quivers her top lip before she drinks. Fritz delicately sticks his tongue out just the smallest bit. Fred often sloshes the water back and forth with his nose - sometimes the tank heater gets ejected in the process. Noble sticks his tongue out a long way and tastes the water before he drinks. When I was young, I had a horse that would drink by immersing his entire face almost up to the eyeballs in the water. And I love how some horses' ears flop back and forth in rhythm with their swallowing. I love all these little details about horses and their behavior.


  1. Oh, Kate, a question about rain sheets. At what temperature do you decide that the rain sheets won't be warm enough and switch them out for a thicker blanket? I've heard that sheets flatten the hair and prevent them from keeping themselves warm by fluffing up. I worry about putting Panama's rain sheet on when he really needs a warmer blanket, so I am curious about your take on this.

  2. Observant post! All three of mine have their own drinking habits, too. The Thoroughbred is a player...he splashes around and dunks his face in past his nostrils before he settles to drink. The other two are more delicate about it, but Calypso (the only mare) is a HUGE slobberer, she takes a deep drink then lets half of it fall out of her mouth before diving in for more. It's almost like she's rinsing out her mouth! my experience a horse (with a full winter coat and in good weight) is fine in weather we find too cold. In fact, most horses prefer chilly weather over warmer weather. However, a cold WET horse is asking for serious problems. So, if it's going to rain/sleet/ice, keep your horse dry, even with just a rain sheet. Mine stand around naked unless it's sleeting/raining, then they get waterproof sheets just to keep them dry. As long as they are dry, they will be warm, even if their coats are smushed down...and a rainsheet isn't as heavy as a full blanket so it will squish the coat down less.

  3. Aren't they funny, the way each has his own style of drinking. My herd goes out in the morning and they all have to take a drink from the same water fountain in the same pasture. Mind you they have water inside and three others to choose from outside, but they all like the just that one special fountain. Go figure.

  4. Jenn, thanks, I should have guessed that a rain sheet wouldn't flatten the hair as much.

    I do blanket my horse (with a winter blanket) below 20, because I know he doesn't like cold weather, possibly because his coat seems to be shorter and finer than other horses' (even ones who are also blanketed). He is always the first one into the barn or the shelter, and when he had a stall with a run, would avoid going outside even to pee when it was cold. He's a big baby about it, but I don't mind spoiling him! :o)

  5. Isn't it wonderful to just be able to watch these little differences?

  6. I finally thought of a drinking habit of Panama's. He prefers big tanks, especially metal tanks, to little buckets -- for whatever reason. For a while he had a stall with a run that backed up to pasture, and the pasture tank was right outside the end of his run. So instead of drinking out of his bucket, he would stick his head through the fence and drink out of the tank!

  7. How funny, I thought about posting something similar. All of the horses have their 'drinking ritual' that they go through and I enjoy observing all of them!

  8. Interesting post.

    They do each have their own drinking habits.

    I knew a mare growing up who would stick her nose in the water and the blow bubbles. It was quite funny to watch.

    Texas gets hot summers. I've known quite a few horses that were smart enough to splash water up onto their chest and lower neck to help cool themselves off during the hottest days.


  9. Fun post! I love watching our guys drink. They both do the ear twitching thing, which I love. Mosco likes to take his last mouthful of water and drizzle it all over me if I'll let him! I taught him the command "Drink!" and if he's not thirsty he'll quickly dip his lips into the water to show me he understands but doesn't want any. I love hearing about all the horses' different quirks!

  10. A sweet post Kate. I will have to really pay attention to the 6 horses that are here...simple pleasures. We still have grass and 7 more days of temperatures between 30 and 42...I'll take it.
    This morning we had a minor dusting.


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