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WATER is essential for life and health. Without water a horse would probably die in few days.

A horse drinks up to 30 litres in a day, and even more during a hot summer day. The lactating mares with foals are the highest consumpters.

WATER is needed for…


… helps swallowing and provides a fluid medium for the food to passalonf the digestivetract. It also provides the basis for the digestive juices.


… the fluid containing blood cells and nutrients etc. It circulates round the body and carries waste from the tissues.


… to drain tissue and and help maintaining the right balance of body fluid. This is important for defence against diseases.


… to excrete the waste products, and as a vehicle to regulate levels of sodium, potassium and ohter electrolytes as determined by kidney function.


…to supply fluid to aid excretion.


… to regulate the body temperature by transferring excess heat to the surface.


… to get rid of surplus heat as sweat.


… in the form of tears and mucus as a lubricant.


… in the form of „oil“ as a lubricant.


… to make 91%  of the milk of lactating mares.


Horses must have clean, fresh water available in all times. If this is not possible, (for example when travelling) they must be offered some water before they are fed. It is typical for a horse to drink little and often, if possible. Large amounts of water should not be given shortly before or after hard training.


Horses are very fussy about their drinking water. If they feel it is not clean, they will rather go thirsty than „risk“ by drinking it. That may cause problems when travelling – a horse might not want to drink water with unfamiliar taste. Sometimes it helps to add something sweet – a little of molasses or apple juice, for example.

Keep the drinking water always as clean and fresh as possible by checking water bowls regularly, at least once a day.


There are various types of water bowls and watering systems available. The most important part is to consider which would suit your stable and your horses best.

Every type of a water bowl should be large enough for the horse to get his muzzle in without a problem. Also, the bowls, pipes and containers should be kept clean and prevented from freezing.

The right place for a water bowl in a single stable is in a corner. On the floor it can be placed into an old tyre, or, if possible, the bucket could be hanged up and protected with a solid wood piece attached diagonally, to prevent it to be knocked over.  



water always available

less work for stable personal

some horses are afraid of the hissing sound and don’t drink


unable to keep an eye on the amount of water being drunk

difficultier to clean

unsuitable for mares and foals

the system can be damaged by a horse



Possibility to keep an eye on the amount of water being drunk

Suitable for mares and foals once the handles are removed

Some horses prefer buckets


Much work

Can be knocked over by a horse, so they might be left without water for some time


Dehydration is the condition where more water and salts are lost from the body than taken in. The horse has not enough fluid iń his body to maintain normal physiological conditions.

Dehydration can be caused by

-          Lack of drinking

-          Prolonged and marked sweating

-          Diarrhoea (foals!)

-          Heat exhaustion

Dehydration may result in:

-          Reduced performance

-          Muscle damage

-          Colic

-          Reduced kidney function

-          Laminitis

-          Coma

-          Death

-          Azoturia („tying-up“

Signs of dehydration:

-          Skin loses its pliability („the 5 sec. pinch test“)

-          Loss of normal colour from the membraanes of gums and eyes and reduced refill time

-          Lack of eating

-          Listlessness

-          Muscle quiver

-          Pulse becomes small

-          Thick, patchy sweat

-          „Thumps“ – the diafragm contracts in the same rhythm as the heart beat (needs immediately veterinary help)

To think and answer:

-          Why would it be good idea to have the same person checking the water bowls or/and clean the drinkers?

-          How could one prevent the water bowls/drinkers/hoses to freeze in cold weather?

For the practical lessons:

-          The pinch test and Practical watering

2016 – 1 – LV01-KA202 – 022652

This project is funded

by the European Union