February 27, 2023

Time to Assess Your Horse’s Water Source

Best management practices involve delivering fresh water to your horse. The days of horses accessing streams and ponds are dwindling for many reasons, including water quality concerns and environmental impact.

“We can use the natural water sources such as streams and ponds,” said Bob Coleman, Ph.D., associate professor and equine extension specialist at the University of Kentucky. “I just recommend that you don’t give the horses access to the water source, instead you need to deliver water to the horses in a tank or waterer. We all need to be good stewards. We are not trailing thousands of head of cattle miles and miles to market anymore. Streams don’t need to have horses in the water, this affects water quality for everyone downstream and also can erode the stream banks as the horses enter and exit. Ponds have the same erosion and contamination issues. I would also be concerned about algae blooms. Not all algae are going to cause a problem but unfortunately, you may not know you have a problem until a post-mortem is completed.”

Setting up a proper water delivery system involves designing an area with a concrete or crushed rock pad large enough for all four of the horse’s feet to be on the pad while drinking to help reduce erosion. Other factors to consider are tank/fount capacity, refill rate, and tank/fount locations.