Sunday, July 8, 2012

Water Troubles and Drinking Styles

We've had brutally hot weather for weeks - temperatures in the upper 90s and as high as the 100s every day, with miserable humidities on top of it, and no rain - we haven't had hardly any measurable rain in the past several months and the last big rain was in April.  Last Thursday, in the middle of the worst of the heat - I think it got to 104F that day with a heat index of 115 - the well at the barn stopped working.  Now this is a large barn, with over 60 horses, and many water tanks for pastures and outdoor horses and many indoor buckets.  We went from having plentiful water for drinking and bathing horses to having rust and air.  The barn owner has really risen to the occasion - she had a water truck there quickly, and has also purchased a 500-gallon tank for her pickup and purchased water from a nearby town.  She's been out there every day for a large part of the day and evening being sure that every horse has enough clean, fresh water.  The well is 1000 feet deep and goes into a sandstone formation with plentiful water, so despite our extreme drought conditions, it appears the problem is either with the pump or a break in the well casing.  Not cheap or easy to repair, but the well people are expected on Monday to work on it - they had to wait until they had all the parts on hand so it's taken a few days.  Keeping fingers crossed that repairs will be quick.

Thankfully, yesterday afternoon, the worst of the heat broke as a cold front finally moved through - but without any rain.  Temperatures today were in the mid 80s, with much lower humidity, so the horses were finally able to be out all day without being miserable - I'd been bringing mine in early each day, and putting them under their fans, but the heat was still oppressive.  It's interesting to see how each of my horses has coped with the heat and the water situation.

Dawn is the most sensitive - she gets hot and sweaty easily and volunteers to come in.  She also gave me some serious worries about the water - she wasn't drinking well and was somewhat dehydrated.  I tried everything - electolytes, Gatorade, you name it, but she was mostly refusing to drink.  I cut her hay way back to reduce the risk of colic.  I think she just didn't like the taste of the new water - particularly the water from the new tank on the barn owner's truck - she would swish her nose violently in the water tank to show her displeasure, but refuse to drink.  We also tried using bottled water without much success.  Finally, today, she decided she could drink.  She drank almost two-thirds of a bucket after dinner, and also drank some Ice Mountain bottled water I'd put in a separate bucket for her.  I also took her out to one of the pasture troughs to drink, and she took a few swallows.  It's a big relief.

Pie was also stressed by the heat - he would be starting to sweat and breathing hard by the time I brought him in each morning.  He also objected to the new water, by swishing his face in it, which he never does, but then he would drink, making it clear he had to hold his nose to do so.  Red mostly stayed cool as a cucumber even in the hottest weather, and drank whenever he was presented with water.  Red also stayed protectively close to Pie in the pasture whenever Pie was starting to get heat stressed.

I love watching horses drink - they each have their own style.  Dawn always noisily flaps her bottom lip in the water when she starts to drink, and then delicately places her chin in the water to drink.  Pie has an elaborate routine - he drinks deeply but with his lips and then has to take several breaks in between drinks to suck his tongue - it protrudes slightly from his mouth as he does so.  Red just plunges in and drinks readily in one go.  I usually take Pie and Red out together to drink from one of the outside tanks - they seem to prefer this - and they stand right together and put their faces close together as they drink.

Had a very short ride on Pie today, the first in a long time - the indoor arena was too dusty for more (the indoor doesn't get watered on Sunday).  Dawn got another rest day, and Red and I did some more ground driving - he's mastered going forward with me behind and seemed to enjoy the work.   His hock is looking good - very little swelling and none near the supposed splint fracture - and he's moving well in the pasture - I saw him doing some big trot which looked sound although he didn't do it for long.  We'll see how he feels after his chiro appointment Wednesday.  I'm hoping for good riding weather for most of the week . . .


  1. Problems with the well are a nightmare. Ours often burns out the relay switch that cuts the pump on and off. Replaced that one twice already. I hope you get it sorted out soon, and that it rains as well.

    Val drinks his water as if through a straw - and holds the last sips in his mouth with his tongue curled for a long time.

  2. gosh those temperature sound extreme. It is sometimes worse coping with high heat than the cold of winter.It is a good thing that your barn owner is a motivated to fix the problem. I hope you get some rain soon

  3. We are having the same problems with heat in New Jersey (I heard Ohio was also hit by the Derecho, but maybe your area was okay.). We did not have power for 4-5 days after the storm which meant no working water pumps. Not having immediate access to water the horses and in extreme heat is very scary. I am glad that you barn owner was able to order the water tanks. That is a new one for me.

  4. Horses have to "suck their tongues" or the water would all run out ;o) My Huey also flaps his lower lip in the water (rinsing out his mouth, so the grain bits and guck are always pungled at the bottom of the trough. Oh well. That's why God made strainers ;o)and drinks a lot, too.

    He's never been fussy about water, thank goodness, though he doesn't like one place where we ride frequently--she puts a piece of rebar in the bottom, I guess to "up" the iron level--and he doesn't like that "THING" in the bottom of the trough.

    Glad your BO is "on top of things." So many of them are cheap sons of guns who don't think there's a need to rush because they are "tapped out" themselves, no pun intended.

    Enjoy the "cold spell"--we're just heating up here (Mojave Desert). Supposed to be 106 today and 107 tomorrow, no break through the weekend, according to the long-term forecast. As long as we have a breeze, I'm okay with this.

  5. No water is a nightmare. Glad your BO is on the ball and getting the work done soon. We had this sort of thing happen to us a few years back where we boarded and the BO got the fire department to come and fill tanks, water the rings etc. Hope your water is running soon. I've heard but never tried it that some people when they go to shows put a flavor in the water, like Jello packets or Gatorade like you did. Horses seem to have very discerning tastes with their water though. Glad yours are finally drinking.

    We've had the same miserable weather but it's a little cooler today. Could use some rain as the pastures are burning up. We've had lots of lightening and thunder but no more than a sprinkling which amounts to nothing really. Stay cool.

  6. Gosh if I were close by I would be there in a flash to help out your BO, that is awful for her, but glad you have a good one that is out there doing what needs to be done.

    Jason and I made the choice to NOT go with well water for many reasons. Wells can be finicky things, they can have a myriad of problems, and then dealing with the pumps, what if the electricity goes out, etc. We may put in a well one day but we wanted to start off with our whole system set up to be on county water. That way if we ever do go with a well we can easily switch the whole system onto county water when things go wrong. We had both well and city water at my parents' farm and it was dealing with that well that led us to go with county water - and happily pay for it.


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