Water is important for proper hydration with the weather warming up and the horses still wearing their winter coats. When trail riding or working livestock, our horses drink from the creek or pond or whatever water is available. It is just part of the routine for us.
Anyone who saw the horse I was riding a few days ago was probably wondering why I wouldn’t let him drink. It was pretty warm, over 80 degrees Farenheit. There were several times we crossed creeks and my horse tried to stop and drink. I wouldn’t let him. Just dug my heels in his side and said let’s go.
As many know who ride with me, I usually encourage my horse to get a drink and believe keeping a horse properly hydrated avoids muscle cramps, colic, and makes for a better safer ride. I still believe these things, but there is one time you need to stop your horse from drinking while on the trail.
The last time I rode the horse, I started to notice he wanted a drink at every creek we rode across. Some of these creeks weren’t more than 10 minutes apart and he had gotten a good long drink. I thought I was noticing a pattern so I tested my suspicion. Sure enough, he really wasn’t thirsty, just looking for a nice spot to stand in the water. The rest of the day, he wasn’t allowed to drink from the creek until invited to do so.
He probably got a little thirsty once or twice and really wanted a drink, but wasn’t allowed. Bear in mind, I wasn’t going to let him become dehydrated. There’s a difference in not letting a horse drink at all versus deciding when he gets to drink. I don’t want a horse that thinks we are going to stop at every puddle of water so he can stand and day-dream. Doesn’t fit the job description we have. Here horses are expected to get the job done without standing around the water cooler.
If you find your horse always wanting to stop at water, make sure it doesn’t become a habit. Problems begin when you stop making the decisions and your horse starts doing what he wants or likes.