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How to Keep a Horse's Water From Freezing Without Electricity

| Updated August 11, 2017

Things You'll Need

  • Water trough or bucket

  • Shovel

  • Manure

  • Extra trough

  • Polystyrene foam, dirt, straw or hay

  • Tarp

  • Scissors

  • Bricks

  • Block of untreated wood

  • Rubber ball


  • Use only untreated wood inside a water trough to avoid the risk of chemicals from treated wood affecting your horses' health.


  • Larger containers of water take longer to freeze, so the bigger your horses' water trough, the better.

    Encourage your horse to drink more during cold weather by giving it warm water (up to 65 degrees).

When the temperature drops below 32 degrees, horse owners think about keeping their horses' water from freezing. A horse may drink up to 12 gallons of water every day. Lack of electricity presents the added challenge of providing your horse with ice-free water without the use of an electric water heater. Alternative methods will keep water from freezing and ensure that your horse stays hydrated and healthy throughout the winter.

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Drain an outdoor water trough or bucket and move it to a spot that gets sunlight most of the day. Dig some of the dirt from underneath and replace the trough into the hole you have dug out. Pile the extra dirt tightly around the sides of the trough, and add manure around the sides for extra insulation.

Place your horse's water trough or bucket inside an old stock tank to keep the trough off the freezing ground. Insulate the layer between the stock tank and the trough with polystyrene foam. If you do not have foam, insulate with dirt, straw or hay. This option works outdoors or indoors, if you have enough room for the horse to move comfortably around the stock tank, which takes up more space than the bucket alone.

Spread a black tarp over the top of an outdoor trough. Cut a hole large enough for the horse to dip its nose into the water. Wrap the rest of the tarp down over the sides of the trough and secure on the ground with bricks. The tarp absorbs the heat of the sun and helps keep the water temperature above freezing.

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Place a small block of untreated wood, such as a two-by-four, into the trough with the water to move the water and slow the freezing process. Or, place a rubber sports ball such as a football or basketball into the water trough. This works best in outdoor troughs where the wind keeps the object bobbing.