Does Horse Water Bucket Placement Matter?

Horses drank significantly more water from a bucket closest to the stall door compared to one near the feeder.

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Does Horse Water Bucket Placement Matter?
Horses drank significantly more water each day from the bucket closest to the door as opposed to the one near the feeder. | Photo: Courtesy Bethany Siehr
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink … unless, perhaps, you move the water source to a different location. Researchers recently tested whether bucket location in a stall impacted how much horses drink. As it turns out, it just might.

Brianna Akam, an undergraduate student working under the direction of Bethany Siehr, MA, assistant professor of equine business management at Wilmington College, in Ohio, shared the study results at the 2017 Equine Science Society (ESS) Symposium, held May 30-June 2 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Water, of course, is widely considered the most important part of a horse’s diet. Without it, horses can develop a number of life-threatening issues, including colic, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalances. So, many horse owners will try just about anything to ensure their charges stay well-hydrated.

In their study, Siehr and colleagues hung two water buckets in each of 12 test horses’ stalls between the door and a corner hay and grain feeding unit; they hoped to determine if horses drank more from the bucket closest to the door or the feeder. For six days, the team dumped, rinsed, and refilled the water buckets each morning and measured water intake and refilled buckets again at noon, 5 p.m., and 10 p.m

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Written by:

Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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