Fresh water is important to horses all year, especially in winter. Some waterers are designed to remain functional in cold weather–with an insulated tank or bowl, a heater, or a combination of a heating unit and insulation. Following are some of the ways you can keep water flowing to your horses even when it’s below freezing.

Insulated Buckets

Buckets made of insulating material work like a thermos to keep water from freezing. There are also insulated bucket holders made of a poly material with spray foam between double walls. The flat back can be bolted to a stall wall or fence. The holder has a round opening into which a five-gallon bucket slips.

Most of these bucket holders have an insulated floating cover made from structural foam (heavier and stronger than Styrofoam) that floats on top of the water and helps prevent heat loss. If a horse nudges it, water comes over it for drinking. Horses readily learn to use it; they know the water is in there so they push on the lid.

Bucket Heaters, Heated Buckets

Electric warmers are the least expensive type of heated waterer. Bucket de-icers are plugged into a barn outlet and simply dropped into the bottom of a bucket to keep water from freezing. These are thermostatically controlled and don’t get very hot.

Several companies sell heated buckets. One is a polyethylene bucket with a heating coil in the bottom that runs through the plastic so you don’t have an element in the water itself. A cord is attached to the bottom of the bucket. The bucket is made of thin plastic and the heating filament inside it stays at a low temperature; i