How Do I Check My Horse For Dehydration?

My horse has to share his water source with quite a few others, and during these hot days I am worried he is getting dehydrated. I want to know how to find this out so I can persuade the stable manager to provide more water.

It is important that you check the methods described here regularly so that you can build up a relative picture of your horse’s condition – since only a scientific test can give an "on the spot" hydration measurement.

The first method is to test the "capillary refill time" by parting the horse’s lips to expose the gums. If you press gently and briefly on the upper jaw with your thumb you will see the blood is forced from the gum. Count how long it takes for the gum to return to its normal color. If it is longer than 2 seconds your horse may be either dehydrated or might have a circulatory problem.

Another way is to pinch the skin on the horse’s neck just on front of the shoulders. If the skin does not return back to its normal position quickly, this may indicate dehydration. This is an easy test for you to do frequently to build up a picture of his relative hydration from day to day.