Drinking Behavior of Horses: Six Facts About Water Intake

Last Updated on February 21, 2022 by Allison Price

Horse owners know the importance of water for their horses. These six facts will help you remember water when you next are cleaning buckets and waiting for the troughs to empty.

Drinking Behavior of Horses

1. Water consumption is influenced by body weight. A Belgian will outdrink a Haflinger on any given day. Strangely, however, horses of the same breed and body weight may consume completely different amounts, even though they are similar. You may be wondering what is normal. In moderate climates, horses that are idling will consume 5-15 gallons (20 to 55 liters) of water each day.

2. Your mare may have drunk two buckets yesterday, but that does not mean she will drink the same amount today. Individual horses might have different water intake. If your horse appears to be drinking little or none of the water you have provided, keep track and notify a veterinarian.

3. Water consumption is directly affected by diet. Horses that graze on lush pasture grasses which have a high moisture content will consume less water compared to those who are fed hay. Horses that eat all-hay diets actually drink more water than horses who eat mixed hay-grain diets.

4. Your horse doesn’t need to drink a lot. Research shows that mature horses who are well-fed spend just five to six minutes per day drinking water. However, this can be achieved by multiple visits to the water source.

5. Are foals allowed to drink water or are their dams able to provide enough fluid for them until they wean? You may have seen foals reach the waterer as young as one week old if you are a breeder. One study found that foals one month old drank almost a gallon of water daily, in addition to four gallons of milk.

6. Exercise horses, depending on their environment and work intensity, may need more water than their sedentary counterparts, especially if the horse is sweating. Horses who sweat regularly should be provided with electrolytes to replace mineral loss from sweat. The best electrolyte therapy is provided by RestoreSR and Racing Recovery, which have been proven to be effective. Two products that Australian horse owners should look into: Restore to supplement electrolyte and Drink-Up for horses who are reluctant to drink.

Horsemanship is based on the principle that horses should always have access to clean, fresh water.

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!