The most important nutrient for your horse is also the one most easily overlooked. Providing your horse with the proper amount of water every day should seem obvious, but what is the proper amount and what factors affect water intake requirements?
The amount of water a horse needs to take in is directly proportional to the amount of water it loses. Horses lose water mainly through their urine, manure, sweat, respiration and for a broodmare, through lactation. These variables are directly affected by the horse’s diet, work load, and environment.
So what does all of this mean relative to what needs to be offered to your horse? Basic recommendations are to always allow the horse free access to clean, fresh water beyond what they are willing to drink. In general, a 1,000-pound horse will consume around 10 gallons of water per day. This is easily accomplished by offering two full 5-gallon buckets twice a day. However, if the bucket is empty when it is time to refill it, consider hanging an additional bucket to optimize water intake.