water buckets

Beware of Bad Water- 6 Tips For Your Bucket List

Most parts of the U.S.A. have been experiencing heat waves lately, as we have been seeing 90 degrees consistently popping up on the weather map. When this happens, you not only want to be able to lead your horse to water, but you want to literally make him drink. Summer heat and weeks of extreme temperatures can mean sweating and dehydration if your horse does not consume enough water. I know that you are thinking that none of this is rocket science, right? Let’s talk about how to keep your horse drinking during these dog days ahead by using this handy checklist.

  • Use at least two buckets per stall, per horse. This ensures that your horse has options, particularly if he is a hay dunker or likes to mess his buckets.
  • Hang your buckets at an appropriate height for the horse or pony drinking from it. Not only does this matter for safety reasons, so that your horse doesn’t get caught up in the bucket while rolling, but it also helps keep debris out during those romps in the bedding. A bucket set low enough for a small pony is not at a safe or clean height for your 17 hand jumper.
  • Are your horses on night turnout? Dump all of your buckets and scrub them after turning out for the night, then leave them empty and rinse/fill them before bringing in the next morning. This ensures the freshest possible water as well as keeping bugs from taking a swim and inevitably dying and fouling the water overnight. Day turnout? Reverse this routine and fill before bringing in to feed. Leaving the buckets out in the sun to dry after scrubbing is a great way to disinfect as well; the UV light kills pathogens.
  • Is your horse a camel and rarely drinking down his full buckets? Try supplementing his water with something designed specifically to encourage drinking. Adding Horse Quencher helps your horse avoid dehydration by getting his attention, flavoring the water with a sweet and salty taste and then having some heavier grains waiting at the bottom to encourage the horse to finish the water. Empty water buckets mean less opportunity for algae and other things to grow in there as well.
  • Speaking of algae growth, are you worried about the things that grow in water in warm weather? Make sure you have a stiff bristle brush ready and scrub every bucket, every day. Water troughs in pastures should be emptied, scrubbed and refilled every three days.
  • Are you checking your hardware? When you take those buckets down to scrub, check the double-ended snaps for wear and the buckets for sharp edges that can harm your horse. You can use duct tape to wrap the swinging ends of the bucket where a horse can catch himself and make sure to replace regularly as it wears down.

All of these ideas are useful whether at home or on the road. Your horse will still want and need access to clean and fresh water at all times. In fact, using a product like Horse Quencher can be even more important while traveling as the water may taste different to your horse and he may not be as inclined to drink. By flavoring it like his favorite peppermint (or apple, root beer and butterscotch) treat, you can fool your pony into thinking the water is the same as in his drinking bucket at home. A hydrated horse is a happy competitor and you will have the peace of mind knowing that he is drinking enough water. Good luck and happy riding!

About the Author:
Stacy Bromley Cheetham, MPA grew up riding horses. She currently resides in Raleigh, NC with her boyfriend, her two rescue Pomeranians, an ornery calico cat, and is working with a promising young OTTB, Indelible (Hanna No Sir) who came from the Track to Tranquility race rehoming program. She is a fundraiser for a local nonprofit and is the Silent Auction Chair for Duke Jump for the Children, an AA rated horse show benefiting Duke Children’s Hospital.