How Much Water Does A Horse Drink Daily

How much water does a horse drink daily? Horses, like other animals, do not drink the same amount of water every day. How much they consume depends on the horse’s weight, weather conditions, and how hard the horse is being worked. The recommended amount of water for horses varies from animal sources we interviewed. Some stated that horses should be given 1/2 to 3 gallons of water per 100 lbs. each day.

Signs Of Dehydration In A Horse

Often, new horse owners don’t know just how much water their animal is drinking unless you are manually filling up buckets and feeding your horse. It helps to detect early signs of dehydration. Check for:

  • A dry mouth and skin
  • Sunken eyes
  • Excessive production of thick saliva
  • Lethargy and depression

Your veterinarian may perform a blood test to check the protein levels.  A high level of proteins in the blood is an indication of dehydration. Even before bringing your pony to the vet, you can perform your simple dehydration test. Start by pinching a portion of the horse’s skin. The skin should spring back to its normal position.

But, if the skin takes some time to spring back or stays in its pinched position, the animal is severely dehydrated and required immediate veterinarian assistance.

Factors That Can Affect The Consumption Of Water

As mentioned, a horse will generally consume between 5 and10 gallons of water. But, it may need more or less of this amount depending on a few factors, which we will now look at.

Temperature And Climatic Conditions

Just like us humans, horses drink more water when it is hot and may not need so much of it when the weather is cooler. But, this is only a general rule. It is common for some horses to drink large quantities of water in winter.

Your pony is most at risk for dehydration in a hot and humid climate. Heat causes the horse to sweat to regulate its body temperature. But, excessive sweating can send your pony into shock if you do not give it enough water to compensate. Both paddock and working horses can become dehydrated if left without water under extreme temperatures.

This is why I strongly recommend keeping a close eye on your own horse, and in a short time, you will get a sense of how much water it drinks when it is hot and when the temperatures drop.

Seasonal Weather Conditions Concerns

Just like the availability of water during the different temperatures of the seasons, the usage of a horse by humans is reflected by the seasonal weather conditions.

Horse owners do not tend to ride or use their horses often during cold winter months. When spring arrives and progresses into the summer months, the horse has more activity by the use of pleasure riding, trail riding, showing, farm and ranch work. Lack of water consumption by the horse during this time of usage could lead to dehydration.

Dehydration in horses is an extremely serious situation and can occur during strenuous exercise, stressful situations, or in cases of bouts of diarrhea. The lack of water can include the lack of electrolytes. Electrolytes include the minerals sodium, chloride and potassium and the lack of electrolytes can lead to kidney failure in the horse, if the horse is not rehydrated quickly.

Horse owners can suspect dehydration in their horse by recognizing the signs: sunken eye or dullness, lethargy, dry skin and mouth, drawn up flanks, depression or excessive thick saliva. Another sign of dehydration is a high level of protein in the blood, which can be determined by a blood sample. The horse many exhibit one or a combination of these signs.

A simple, but not always accurate way to judge dehydration in horses is to conduct a simple skin pinching test. Pinch up a fold of the horse’s skin and then release it. Skin should immediately return back into its natural position. If the skin remains in a ridge from two to five seconds this could be a sign of mild dehydration. The longer the skin remains in a ridge can determine the severity of the lack of water in the horse’s system. Skin that remains in a ridge appearance for ten to fifteen seconds is the alert for immediate veterinary assistance, for the skin is demonstrating severe dehydration signs.

Water Availability

Offer the horse cool fresh water often during strenuous activities.

If the horse is at a location where the drinking water does not have the same taste as the home water the horse may refuse to drink. Before going to an event try flavoring the home drinking water for a few days prior to the journey with Gatorade or apple juice to accustom the horse to the flavor. For the convenience of the horse owner prepared powdered electrolyte packets, flavored or unflavored, can be adding to drinking water to replenish necessary items.


If figuring out how many gallons of water your horse drinks daily sounds like a daunting task, there’s no need to worry. The amount of water consumed in drinking is dependent on three things: the size and activity of the individual horse, the ambient temperature, and the availability of water. All you have to do is keep an eye on your horse to determine if he’s thirsty or not. When he is, offer him cold water. You can provide him with warm water when it’s mild outside, or cool water if it’s hot.

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