A question many people ask is 'can a horse survive by eating snow in the winter'. The answer is 'maybe'. A horse might be able to eat snow and get enough moisture to survive, but it certainly won't be getting enough moisture to thrive. If you melt down a bucket of snow, you'll find there is only a small fraction of (dirty) water, compared to the amount of snow you started with. Your horse would have to eat an incredible amount of snow
just to get one bucket of water. Combine low fluid intake with a diet of dry fodder like hay and it could be the perfect recipe for impaction colic
Photo: 2007 K. Blocksdorf
And if you've ever eaten ice cream or other frozen treat on a cold day, you know what that can do to your body temperature. The same thing can happen to horses forced to eat snow.
Horses have a very efficient internal furnace that keeps them warm in all but the coldest, windiest and wettest weather. But that internal heating system can be jeopardized by poor diet, and that includes not enough fluid to properly digest
what they have eaten.
I know it can be difficult to provide horses fresh water when buckets seem to freeze as soon as you put them out. But access to water is essential to help your horse cope with cold winter temperatures and remain healthy. Heated buckets, stock tank heaters and even hot water from the kitchen tap are all solutions to preventing water from freezing and ensuring your horse doesn't have to eat snow for moisture.
Read More About Winter Horse Care