Daily water consumption varies quite a bit. Season of the year, workload, reproductive status, diet, and climate factor into the volume of water needed by a particular horse on a specific day.
As a starting point, the average horse drinks between 5 and 10 gallons (19 and 38 liters) of water each day. The horse may need slightly less if it is grazing lush pasture because fresh grass contains a high percentage of liquid. He may also have less desire to drink if the water offered is extremely cold or contaminated with dirt, feces, or other material. Horses in this situation may drink less than they should because the water is not appealing. These horses run a risk of dehydration even though, at first glance, water seems to be available.
Lactation, strenuous or prolonged exercise, hot weather, heavy sweating for any reason, and a diet consisting mainly of dry hay will greatly increase the amount of water the horse needs each day. Inadequate water intake can lead to impaction colic, so having a constant supply of clean, fresh water is important in keeping horses healthy.
Follow these tips to ensure horses always have access to water:
Place one or more water sources in each stall and paddock. Check frequently to be sure the water sources are clean and operating properly.
Offer water periodically (at least every couple of hours) while horses are exercising and while they are being transported.
Empty, scrub, and refill tanks frequently during the summer, and check that water is ice-free during the winter. Monitor water consumption and add extra buckets if a horse seems to be running out of water.
This article is reproduced with the permission of Kentucky Equine Research.