Water Consumption for Horses

Horses drink anywhere between 5 to 10 gallons of water a day. This amount of water is required so that a horse can replace whatever it loses naturally. Other factors can affect how much water a horse will drink like their weight, diet, the weather, and even their activity level (workload). Harder working horses need more water, especially during warm seasons.

Where Do Horses Get Their Drinking Water?

Horses most often live at either a farm or an equine center. Depending on the location, the water source for horses varies from ponds, rivers, or other groundwater and tap water. The best-case scenario is tap water because it has already undergone some treatment by the city to make it safe for human consumption. Any other water sources will be prone to more serious contamination issues that can affect a horse much like it does humans.

Contaminants in Water

Listing all the contaminants that can find their way into drinking water would take too long, let alone all the ones that are in rivers or ponds. A few common water contaminants include bacteria, viruses, minerals, algae, and fertilizers. Minerals might seem not such a big issue in water contamination for horses but for instance, high concentrations of nitrates can be toxic to them.

Groundwater can have trace amounts of cyanobacteria, which are greenish-blue algae that originate from fertilizers and can seriously damage a horse’s liver. Groundwater will appear clean and safe at face value but so many toxins are hidden just beneath the surface.

What Can Be Done for Horse Water Safety?

It will not be feasible to get bottled water for a horse but a home water treatment system will be more reasonable. Even tap water that is brought already treated by the city can still have trace amounts of contaminants. The best choice for a home water system would be a whole house water filter. This is because horse owners probably have a tap outdoors to more easily facilitate access to it.

The best whole house water filters are something that can work great for well water, especially since testing for a private water well is always a requirement. Commercial home water treatment devices are worth the investment for both horse and owner, but there are situations where this may not be feasible.

Maintaining Pastures and Enclosures

Farms and equine centers may have access to streams or natural bodies of water. Horses will end up drinking from these sources at some point. There are options to keep these waters at least somewhat safe to drink. For one, keeping the borders of the stream ungrazed will aid in keeping the water cool, maintain the integrity of the edges in general and decrease trampling. This more stable bank also helps keep manure from contaminating the water.

Fences and Drainage

It is also a good idea to erect fences around the water so that the horse won’t frequently trample around the edges and collapse them. Fences around the drainage system and canals will keep irrigation water clean and free of horse manure so that it won’t reach groundwater.

Harrowing Fields

Heavy laden manure pastures that pose a contamination risk to groundwater have a fairly easy solution. Harrowing pastures will better incorporate manure into the soil, providing fertilizer for the next year and keeping it away from the steam. Horses tend to choose one area in which to dump their droppings and thus manure only accumulates in one spot. Harrowing will also expose larvas in the ground to sunlight and stop bacteria from permeating through the ground.


Water safety for horses takes on whole new meanings when groundwater is involved. Caring for pastures and paddocks is essential in maintaining local bodies of water and making them reasonably clean and safe for horses to drink, especially on warm days. Even so, tap water needs a little more attention as well for it to be good for horses on top of whatever treatment

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