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    One would think that a horse would prefer drinking out of a clean water trough rather than out of a muddy puddle if it had the choice.  But, you are wrong.  After a rain, horses seem to enjoy the taste of the fresh water that accumulates in shallow puddles better than the large amount of stale H2O sitting in their regular troughs.

    In the wild, horses create their own mudholes by pawing at the ground surrounding natural springs, then drinking from this.  The pawing stirs up minerals the horses seek in their diet, which they drink along with the water.

    Similarly, horses drinking from streams and lakes usually paw the water first before drinking.  Sometimes this has the effect of clearing debris or floating plant matter off the surface, but if the water source has a sandy bottom, this can create an excess amount of sand ingested with the water, which can accumulate in the horses intestines and create a blockage or impaction.

    While horse do prefer fresh water, you may notice that if you are traveling and ask your horse to drink fresh water that is from a different source than that which they are accustomed to, they may refuse to drink at all.  Since it is essential that a horse drinks water to maintain performance and health in hot weather, after exeercise, for proper digestion, and while traveling, you can put a sweet-tasting drink mix into a new water source to get your horse to drink.  The horse’s health depends on continually flushing the sand and plant matter from the intestine to keep it clear from blockage.  Water, no matter what the source, is essential.

    Drinking out of rain puddles also simulates the full neck extension of watering from a lake or stream, which is probably more comfortable and natural for a horse than drinking from a bucket or trough in an upright position.

    But, then too, there is the horse who may be too lazy to walk all the way to his regular water trough when there is a perctly good mud puddle on the ground in front of him.

    Written by Lisa Dines 1955                                                         Edited by Karleen Hubley