Mythbuster Monday: Horses Prefer To Drink Water of a Certain Temperature

On Mythbuster Monday, we tackle a variety of equestrian myths to either bust or confirm. Today’s discussion: Do horses have a preference in water temperature?

It’s Mythbuster Monday, where Horse Nation dives into different equestrian myths and provides research-based evidence to either bust or confirm those myths. Today’s topic: Do horses have a preference in water temperature? What is the ideal temperature? Does the preferred temperature change per horse and season? Read further to find out!

Myth: Horses have a preference for the temperature of their water

Myth or Fact: Fact


Winter and summer each come with their own difficulties when it comes to horse care. In both of these seasons, it’s imperative that horses are getting adequate water intake. To make sure your horse remains healthy in the scorching heat and the blistering cold, you must ensure they are drinking enough water.

An average size horse will consume four to nine gallons of water per day. In the summer, you may not be refilling the troughs as much because many horses get water by eating forage. Forage is compromised of 60-80% water. In the winter, horses are fed drier options of grain and hay so the water intake from the trough will increase.

But is there a water temperature that will make horses drink more?


According to an article by Richie, fresh water for life, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine found that horses consumed up to 40% more water per day if they were given water between the temperature of 45 – 65 degrees Fahrenheit. When the horses were given the option to pick between the ice cold water and then warmer water, almost all the horses chose the colder water and drank less. However, when only offered the warmer water, the horses drank significantly more.


Tom R. Lenz, DVM, MS, DACT published an article discussing water consumption. He provides the insight that providing warmer water is more complicated than at first glance. His findings were the same as those from the University of Pennsylvania. However, he found some other interesting facts. Horses that were fed in their stalls drank the most minutes after finishing their meals, regardless of temperature. Also, regardless of being stalled or not, most horses drank 82% of their daily water intake three hours after feeding.


Kentucky Performance Products also published an article with ideal water temperatures for horses. They state that the ideal water temperature is between 45 -65 degrees Fahrenheit. In their article they go on to provide a study that showed horses drank up to 40% more water when the temperature was close to 90 degrees Fahrenheit as opposed to colder. Older horses with sensitive teeth also preferred warmer drinking water.


Overall, horses prefer their water at a particular temperature. Some studies showed that horses drank up to 40% more when the water was warmer. Others studies showed that horses preferred to drink ice cold water over warmer water in the winter.  Make sure to understand the temperature of water your horses prefer at different times of the year and fill your water buckets after feeding time  as that is shown to be the window horses drink the most.

Do you have an equine myth you’d like us to tackle? If so, send it our way! Email your suggestions to [email protected]. Put Mythbuster Monday in your subject line.