Keeping our horses happy is such a multi-faceted challenge. Depending on where they live and what their dietary needs are, options can be so limited. One thing that all horses benefit from, no matter what, is drinking more water. So why not make water more exciting?
I've seen awesome videos of people providing their horses with a full water bar of different flavors, which is so fun. I would love to do that eventually, but my horses would destroy a bunch of small buckets and I don't have the funds to buy extra big ones just yet. So, I've been mixing things up for them by providing them with a bucket of different flavors each day, which is right next to their plain water.
They LOVE their exciting water, and though they do choose to drink plain water as well, they definitely have fun with all sorts of fun twists. And it could not be any easier to provide enrichment for them! The horse's sense of smell is often forgotten when it comes to building a fulfilling life for them, but they have a powerful nose. Watching them seek out things in pasture, or forage for specific bites in a hay bag or box, is so much fun. So of course, they love indulging in smell and taste with their water.
Horse-Approved Water Flavors
Here is a list of Amazon links for the items I have been rotating (or plan to rotate) through their water:
- Dandelion Leaves
- Dandelion Roots
- Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
- Rooibos tea
- Lemon slices (just normal lemons from the grocery store!)
- Peppermint Leaves
- Ceylon Cinnamon Sticks
- Chamomile Flowers
Most horses will love dandelions, and both the leaves and roots have a lot of health benefits too! Often used as a natural detox, dandelion is great for overall health due to being so nutrient-dense. It is known for being helpful for liver function, and has some diuretic effect. I purchase organic dried dandelion intended for teas for human consumption, and simply pour some into their water bucket. Trubee especially loves this one! I like the brand Frontier Co-op, and they have tons of bulk tea options to try.
Rooibos tea is another fun one, with some added health benefits too! It is consumed for potentially helping overall health with antioxidants, being anti-inflammatory, aiding with digestive health, and some studies suggest it may help with bone health too. And the horses like the taste! You could brew tea and add that to their water, I have been doing it sun tea style since it is so warm. In winter, I may brew tea and then add it though!
I mixed in some rooibos with dandelion leaves, and it was a hit. Tucker enjoyed sniffing this one, going back and forth to smell them individually and then together.
Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
The most common addition I do is raw apple cider vinegar, which I try to put in after the sun is setting or early enough that the water is in the shade for awhile. This is so it does not get hit by direct sunlight before they can enjoy it, as I know the benefits of raw ACV can be diminished after sun exposure. Either way, they seem to love the taste!
I've also made lemon water by adding in slices of fresh lemons, and mixed in the solids that were leftover from making spiced apple cider - including the cinnamon sticks & cloves! It is best to use "true" cinnamon, which would be labeled "Ceylon cinnamon" but in such small amounts it is not a big concern. When I add things like fruit, I completely dump the water after 1-2 days, but with dried herbs I will keep refilling it for several days and only dump the water when it gets "normal" dirty. This is truly the easiest form of enrichment you can do for your horse, and adds a touch of fun to an otherwise mindless activity!