Horse Health in Winter: Water

Ensuring your horse has access to unfrozen water all winter will help prevent potentially fatal colic episodes.


Many automatic waterers have the benefit of being heated, but it’s important to check on them daily to make sure they’re functioning properly.

Just as feed considerations are important for your horse during the winter, water is too. The greatest danger in winter is a frozen water source. Horses than don’t consume enough water are in danger of impaction colic, which is potentially life-threatening. For this reason, water consumption in the winter should be carefully monitored.

An adult horse should consume 10 to 12 gallons of water a day on average. If you don’t have heated waterers, troughs or buckets, check them and add warm water at least twice daily when the temperatures are below freezing. Studies have shown that horses consume much more water in cold weather if the water is above 45 F.

In snowy weather, never rely on your horse to consume snow to help fulfill his water requirements. In addition to monitoring water temperature and consumption, learn to habitually observe your horse’s manure. If manure appears dry or sparse, this is an indicator your horse isn’t drinking enough.

Read more:
Keep Your Horse Hydrated in Winter
Winter Nutrition Tip: Don’t Forget the Water

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This article originally appeared in the November 2014 issue of Horse Illustrated. Click here to subscribe!


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