Here in the Horse Insurance team at SEIB, keeping our horses happy and healthy is vital. Everyone in the office keeps an eye out to find out about any equine research and developments that can be used to help make our horses lives the best they can be. This often leads to discussions and debates around varying aspects of equine care. How much water a horse drinks in a day was recently one such topic.

How long can a horse go without water?

Over 50% of a horse’s bodyweight is made up from water, in body fluids and tissues. As with all animals, clean, fresh water needs to be available for a horse or pony around the clock. Dehydration for a horse can start in just a few hours without access to water.

How much water does a horse drink per day in litres?

Research has found the amount a horse drinks in a day can vary from 25 to 55 litres. As a guide, a standard plastic bucket holds around 13 litres of water. So at a bare minimum, two full buckets of water a day will be required. The amount a horse drinks will depend on factors such as his size, the amount of exercise he is doing, the temperature and what he is eating.

As to be expected, a pony will generally drink less than a large horse. A rule of thumb is that the amount of water a horse or pony requires a day, at a minimum, is 5 litres per 100 kgs of bodyweight. As horses sweat when they get hot or are exercised a horse that is being ridden or living in a hot climate will need substantially more water than this minimum amount.

Factoring in feed

A horse’s feed will also affect the amount he drinks. A horse out grazing on lush, wet grass will get a good percentage of his water intake through the grass. Like-wise if a lot of water is added to his hard feed – such as mashes or grass pellets then these will provide some of his daily water intake. On the other hand, if the horse’s diet consists mainly of dry hay, it is likely his water intake will increase.

Living in vs living out

A stable kept horse needs fresh water daily, whether from an automatic drinker or a bucket. If a bucket is used, it should be nearly double the size of a standard bucket – or two buckets used. These need to be checked, and refilled where needed, several times a day. If the horse is prone to knocking his bucket over, then it can be helpful to stand the bucket/s in an old tyre to make it more stable. Whilst it is more work to use a bucket for water for a stabled horse, it can be beneficial as you can see how much the horse is drinking.

A field kept horse needs clear access to, ideally, a self-filling water trough. The trough must be checked daily and scrubbed out regularly – once a week or so – to make sure the water is fresh and palatable for the horse. If you don’t have access to a self-filling trough then depending on the trough size, it will need checking once or twice daily to make sure the horse has enough water.

About SEIB

SEIB have been arranging insurance for horses for 60 years. This experience allows us to tailor policies to suit your circumstances and ensure that you and your horses are covered should the worst happen.