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By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · November 23, 2011
Horses are sometimes reluctant to drink water when they’re away from home. Owners suspect that the water may taste different enough to be uninviting, but it becomes a problem when horses refuse to drink, leading to possible dehydration and increasing the risk of colic and other health concerns.
How different does the strange taste, smell, or level of acidity have to be before horses will back off from a bucket of water? In a study conducted at the University of Guelph, twelve horses were offered control water with a pH of 7.5 as well as separate buckets of water that contained citric acid to change the pH to more acidic levels of 5.0, 3.6, or 2.9. Amount of water drunk from each bucket was monitored.
Consumption was highest from the control bucket. Less water was taken from the 5.0 bucket (moderately acidic). Horses did drink from the other two buckets (most acidic) at similar rates, but showed more aversion to these choices. This seems to indicate that horses avoid drinking strongly acidic water, though in this study it seems possible that either the smell or the taste produced the aversion...
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