Monitoring water intake is another very important consideration during winter weather. Mature horses in temperate climates will normally drink from 5 – 8 gallons of water per day. Increasing the amount of hay in the diet will increase the water consumption, up to 9 or 10 gallons of water with an all-hay diet.
During cold weather, water intake can decline dramatically. Increased hay intake combined with decreased water intake contributes to the risk of impaction colic. This is especially a problem when horses are kept in stalls for several days due to inclement weather because confinement tends to slow intestinal motility. In cold weather, water should be kept fresh and free of ice to insure adequate intake and horses exercised whenever possible. Also, adding one or two ounces of salt to the feed may stimulate water consumption.