While we all love the springtime rain that breathes life back into our barren winter landscapes, most horse owners residing in cold and wet climates dread the excess water and mud that comes with it.
On the other hand, rearing a horse in a desert environment presents you with entirely new kinds of challenges. For instance, due to the acute water shortages and the high levels of heat in such climatic conditions, you’ll need to do more to make sure that your horse is adequately hydrated. You’ll also need to preserve his pasture and provide him with shelter from the extreme elements of weather, plus much more.
In arid and desert areas, any rain waters that may have materialized will have almost entirely vaporized by May, making way for months and months of sun-baked soil and parched vegetation on the landscape.
Vast areas of the US are defined as desert because they receive annual rainfalls of less than 12 inches. However, not all arid and desert regions have the same conditions. For instance, higher-elevation arid areas like the inland Northwest and the Great Plains often see temperatures that are as cold as, or even worse than, those in the east or south.
As a desert horse owner, you need to know how to protect your equine companion from strength-sapping heat and dehydration. You also need to learn how to conserve the little natural resources that nature provides and work to maintain quality pasture for your horse. Guarding against the effects of sun-burning and the cancer-causing UV rays is also very important, as is the protection of your horse from diseases and any other health dangers that threaten him in bone-dry conditions.
To mitigate against these problems, you need to begin by hydrating your equine friend while at the same time conserving water. While you can install automatic waterers in your horse’s turnouts, avoid using a mechanical system that may fail. If you use a simple bucket or trough, be sure to remain vigilant to ensure that they’re always in working order in both in hot and cold desert weather. By design, an automatic system will conserve water because it only uses as much water as your horse can consume. Since the water in an automatic system circulates, you’ll also be avoiding offering mosquitoes a breeding area. This helps avoid the West Nile virus and other harmful pathogens.
We also recommend that you use insulated models that keep your horse’s water cool during summer months and prevent it from freezing during winter. Also, make sure that the models use moderately-sized pans to avoid the accumulation of dirt and algae that is often the case with larger bowls. This also helps save time and conserve water during cleaning.
Finally, you can also conserve water in a desert environment by collecting roof runoff and diverting it into a stock tank.
Image source: flickr.com (Creative Commons)