When It Comes To Winter Watering

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When the temperature dips down into the thirties or below and your horse’s water bucket is a solid chunk of ice, what is a horse owner to do? On average a 1,000 pound horse can drink between 8-12 gallons of water daily but every horse is different. When grass is not available, horses need to drink more than they would in the warmer months because they aren’t getting water from the grass. However if the water is too cold or potentially frozen horses may choose not to drink as much. A decrease in water consumption while eating lots of dry feed  can sometimes lead to impaction colic. Room temperature water is ideal for our equine friends who seem to prefer water that is about 45-65 degrees Fahrenheit. Giving your horse access to a salt lick or putting electrolytes in their water will help encourage them to drink more . When it comes down to hydration during the chilly months there are several options, each with their own pros and cons.

Insulated buckets: These handy buckets work a lot like a thermos. They are insulated so they keep the bucket contents from freezing. Many include an insulated, floating cover that keeps the heat in. Horses just nudge the cover and water rises over it for drinking.


  • No cords or electricity is involved.
  • These buckets do not add to your electricity bill
  • Can be mounted to most walls and fences


  • Horses will often flip them over and dump the water out if not attached to a wall
  • Does not fill itself back up when empty

Insulated Electric Waterers: When you don’t have to worry about filling up buckets several times a day or breaking ice, you have more time to take care of other horse chores! As long as the power is on, you will be happy to know your horse’s water is too!


  • Convenient because you no longer need to sit and wait while the bucket gets filled up
  • As long as the lights are on, so is the water!
  • Can be installed almost anywhere there is access to an outlet


  • There is no water if the electricity goes out
  • More expensive to purchase than other options
  • Your electric bill may go up significantly
  • Needs to be routinely monitored to make sure no cords or wires are exposed
  • Mouthy horses and ponies may try to pull on exposed cords

Bucket De-Icer: These are plugged into an outlet and either float, get plugged into the bucket drain or sink to the bottom of a bucket to keep water from freezing.


  • Submersible de-icers are temperature controlled so they do not get too hot
  • Cords are clipped to the side to prevent horses getting to them
  • They turn off when water gets too low
  • Being at the bottom of the bucket, the submersible hot part is not reachable by your horse


  • Your electric bill may increase
  • Mouthy or bored horses may try to chew on the floating cover
  • Needs to be routinely monitored to make sure no cords or wires are exposed

No matter which option works best for you and your horse’s specific needs, it is very important that your horse always has access to plenty of clean, fresh water available. This will help keep your horse healthy and hydrated.