In general, horses are pretty good at assessing whether water is safe to drink or not. But, sometimes, we can get a little squeamish or hesitant about letting our horses drink from unfamiliar sources. Here are a few questions to ask yourself the next time you come across a water source and wonder, “Is it safe?”
1. Does it move?
If water is moving, generally, it is safe to drink. Nature has it’s own built in filtration system that traps contaminants and cleanses water as it moves downstream, so creeks and streams are typically safe water sources. Water that is not moving especially in a small body of water is more likely to be dangerous to drink because there would be a build up of algae and/or bacteria. The exception to this rule would be fresh rain puddles.
2. Is it clear or the color of dirt?
This may be surprising to consider, but water that you find in nature is normally not clear. So even if the water is the color of dirt, it may still be safe for your horse to drink. You should however steer clear of water that has an unnatural color or tends to shimmer or have a sheen that would appear to be oily in appearance.
3. Is the water odorless?
Water doesn’t smell. It may take on a subdued aroma from local fauna, but it shouldn’t smell unnatural, unusual or foul. If the water smells if could contain contaminents or maybe even a dead animal which could be deadly to your horse.
4. Is the surface free of bugs and algae?
Water bugs are harmless and tend to frequent streams. However, the appearance of mosquitoes flying near the surface may be an indication that the water is stagnant. Also, be aware of algae growing in the surface, another indication that the water is potentially unsafe.
Again, in most cases, your horse will not attempt to drink from an unsafe water source. They have a nose and horse sense about them to protect them from dangerous water. Normally, if your horse thinks the water is safe, it probably is.
Be One With Your Horse