There are many variables that impact how much water your horse needs. Age, weather and exercise all affect hydration requirements.
The location of the water trough and buckets can also impact intake. Buckets and troughs need to be cleaned frequently to remove debris and algae. The front of the stall is an ideal location to place them for easy access.
The horse’s body is 70 percent water, so it’s important that they drink enough of it on a daily basis to maintain proper hydration. A typical, idle 1,100 pound horse should drink 6-10 gallons of water on a regular basis. However, this number can increase significantly on days when the horse is more active.
Many factors can affect a horse’s drinking habits including temperature, the amount and type of feed eaten, activity level, and body condition. For example, a fat horse requires less water than horses maintained at optimal body conditions. Water consumption also increases when the horse is exposed to sudden weather changes, such as moving from a cool environment to a hot and humid one.
The location of the horse’s water trough can also influence how much a horse drinks. A recent study led by Brianna Akam, an undergraduate student at Wilmington College in Ohio, found that horses drank more from water buckets placed closer to the stall door than those located farther away. The researchers used 12 test stalls with two buckets hung in each.
The buckets were placed in the stall near the hay feeder and near the portable horse stalls. The horses were weighed before and after each trial to monitor the horse’s drinking habits. To avoid skewed data, the researchers omitted horses that were known to dunk their hay.
In cold weather it is very important to make sure that your horse’s water bucket remains unfrozen. You should check the trough or bucket several times a day and break up any ice that may be starting to form on the surface. Another option is to use a heated bucket which will continually keep the water above freezing. This is an expensive solution but it can be worth it for many horse owners. Heated buckets will require electrical power and it is very important to keep any extension cords well out of reach from horses.
Using a float in your horse’s bucket can also help prevent it from freezing. The float sits on the water surface and is easy for horses to push down when they want to drink. The float also helps to keep the water circulating and reduces debris, keeping the surface of the water from freezing.
You can also improve the insulating quality of your bucket by putting it inside of another bucket, such as a large trough bucket. This will add a layer of insulation to the bucket and help to slow down the rate at which it freezes. You can even put a piece of cardboard in the bottom of the bucket to increase the insulation. In cold temperatures, it is also helpful to cover the trough and bucket with snow.
Stall Wall Bucket Holders
Stall wall bucket holders can be a great way to hold feed and water tubs in place. Whether for home use or at shows, this installation-free holder mounts easily to stall walls, gates and fence boards to keep buckets from getting knocked around by agitated horses. A heavy duty coating protects the holder against damage. It can be used with a variety of bucket sizes.
Some horses will contaminate their water buckets with fecal material or make them unpalatable to drink. To prevent this, a bucket holder that allows for easy cleaning is recommended. The holder can be scrubbed clean with a scrub brush or firm-bristled broom.
Providing adequate lighting is also important to help with daily observation of the water. Lights should be placed at least 8 feet above the stall to minimize contact with the horse and are best located on front and side walls to decrease shadows in the stall area. Electric fixtures should be housed in a metal cage or other protective covering to prevent rodents from chewing wires, which can lead to a fire hazard.
Stalls should have a window that opens for each stall, eave and ridge vents to enhance ventilation and an unobstructed ceiling to allow for a good flow of air. Placing hay, bedding and tack on the top of a stall ceiling can inhibit this fresh air flow, creating a health hazard for horses.
Using an automatic waterer will ensure that your horse has access to fresh, clean water at all times. These systems eliminate a lot of problems that can arise with troughs and buckets. They also provide peace of mind knowing that your horses will have water to drink even when you can’t be around to refill and clean them.
These systems are often insulated and utilize various heating strategies to function year-round in cold climates. They also don’t require electricity, which means that you won’t have to pay for energy costs. Although there is a cost to the initial purchase and installation of these systems, they can save you time and money in the long run.
Horses that are working hard will need to drink water frequently. For example, a pack horse on a hot mountain trail will lose precious body salts through sweat and may overheat and become dehydrated. It is important to be aware of these symptoms and take steps to encourage hydration in your horses.
Horses that are stalled will typically consume more water than those in pasture because they don’t get as much moisture from their diet. This is especially true during the winter. Offering them a range of water containers throughout their living quarters can encourage them to drink more regularly. In a study, Siehr found that horses were more likely to drink from the bucket farthest from their feeder than the one closest to it. This is because they don’t want to be bothered by their food while trying to drink water.