Horses Winter Water Needs: Ask the Expert

Horses Winter Water NeedsQuestion: I’ve heard that horses need more water in the winter, is that true?

Answer:  During the summer months, pasture contains about 80% moisture and can contribute to your horse’s water requirement if grazing.

In contrast, hay should contain less than 15% moisture, increasing your horse’s need for water during the winter months or when fed a primarily hay diet.

If your horse doesn’t drink enough water during cold weather they may eat less and be more prone to impaction colic and more susceptible to cold weather.

Most 1,000-pound adult, idle horses need at least 10 to 12 gallons of water daily and water is most readily consumed when kept between 45 and 65°F.

Written by Krishona Martinson, PhD, and Marcia Hathaway, PhD, University of Minnesota. This and other horse nutrition articles can be found at

13 Replies to “Horses Winter Water Needs: Ask the Expert”

  1. My TB is out 24/7 although if she wanted should has the use of 12×12 stalls. She has never been a big water drinker even in Summer. I have gotten in the habit of feeding her Nutrena mixed with a few handfuls of alfalfa/timothy cubes. The mix gets completely saturated in hot water, making it a mash of Nutrena and completely reconstituted hay. This has helped keep her free from impaction colic for many years, while helping to keep her hydrated.

  2. I add Progressive Nutrition’s Aqua Aide electrolytes to all of my horses daily diet especially in the winter to encourage them to drink more.

  3. My water tank has a heat probe that prevents freezing. One of my mares will drink from the tank but prefers my creek water. In the summer it is opposite. Go figure!

  4. My very suggested a tablespoon of salt on their feed daily for each horse to make them drink more water during winter. It works. Everyone has their own technique. No one is right and no one is wrong. Everyone is different. I use pink Himalayan salt.

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