Winter watering - The Horse Forum
  • 3 Post By JCnGrace
  • 1 Post By verona1016
  • 1 Post By canchasersmom
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post #1 of 9 Old 02-04-2014, 01:03 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2014
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Question Winter watering

My barn owner isn't proactive about water freezing during cold snaps, so it is up to me to try to keep my horses water from freezing for several days at a time till I can get back out to refill/refresh. I can't use the electric as it is only on for short periods. I have been told that putting drinkable alcohol in the water will keep it from freezing. I did research the affects of alcohol on horses and vets say its fine. I just don't know how much to put in per gallon (I am planning on using a cheap vodka). Has anyone ever used this type of solution or have suggestions of where I can get the answer?
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post #2 of 9 Old 02-04-2014, 01:18 PM
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What about a solar tank? There are some folks on here who have built their own and shared the plans.

I'm sorry, I know your situation is frustrating, but I just keep picturing drunk horses staggering around the field and it makes me laugh. I must say in all my years of horse keeping I have never ever heard of putting liquor in a tank or bucket for a solution.
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post #3 of 9 Old 02-04-2014, 01:46 PM
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interesting problem --- adding enough alcohol to make the total ABV comparible to wine would lower the freezing point to 23 degrees

if you are in a place where day time temps do not get above 35 degrees ... you would have to put enough booze in there for your horse to get plum wasted

i thought maybe a little apple cider vinergar solution --- but a 5% solution (store bought before adding water is 5% acetic acid) only gets it to about 29 degrees

... i thought a little bit of salt --- but the amount of salt needed would be bad for the horse

which made me think of sugar --- sugar doesn't do much for it either -- enough to lower freezing point to 26-27 degrees would be an enormous amount of sugar

gatorade? --- nope -- 31 degrees

i used to live in alaska -- and i noticed moving water is harder to freeze than stationary water :p ----- perhaps something to keep the water circulating? ... i keep thinking of the bubble maker in finding nemo for some reason

not sure if any one of those are the answer to your question, or if a combination would work

hard to tell when we aren't sure what your day time and night time temps are
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post #4 of 9 Old 02-10-2014, 02:46 PM Thread Starter
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Good suggestions, the moving water would help if there were electric available, but then I could use stock tank heaters. I was impressed by how far you thought through the additives and the freezing levels, etc.
Solar is also a good thing, except I am on a limited budget and can't afford to buy or make it.
Hopefully I will be able to afford to move my horses to a barn that has a manager that thinks ahead and prepares her facility for such occasions. Meanwhile, I am off to drive a half and hour to break ice, and add water by gallon containers so my horses don't colic!
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post #5 of 9 Old 02-10-2014, 02:48 PM
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What's the big deal about having your barn owner break the ice? I assume she waters them... so they have water? If she doesn't that's a bigger issue than just the cold.
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post #6 of 9 Old 02-10-2014, 02:50 PM
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It would help if I knew how thick the ice gets, then maybe I can assist.
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post #7 of 9 Old 02-10-2014, 03:07 PM
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I wouldn't use a drop in heater bc there have been a few deaths over the years, and I won't risk it.
The other options are to use black rubber buckets or spend over $100/horse on passive water buckets that keep it liquid for many hours.
THIS one is a little bit cheaper:
High Country Insulated Bucket -

Personally, I don't find it too much trouble to use full size stall buckets and switch to smaller buckets for the outside, so that I can pick them up and beat the ice out. It's just part of the stuff you have to do.

A Jack and Three Queens, the latest book by James C. Dedman,
Hope that you fall in love with "Trot", like I did!
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post #8 of 9 Old 02-10-2014, 03:37 PM
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One solution I remember seeing a while ago online (but have not used myself) is to put a foam insulation "lid" on the water bucket. You just get a sheet of foam insulation from your hardware store of choice and cut out a shape to fit just inside the edge of your water bucket. The horse just needs to press down lightly on it to get water to flow over top of it and drink.

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post #9 of 9 Old 02-17-2014, 12:45 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for your interest in helping! Yogiwick; No the barn owner doesn't always add water because, again she doesn't think ahead and upgrade her watering system to "farmer's faucets" that don't freeze. And your right, it is the bigger problem.
Saddlebag; If I don't go out and take care of the waters myself she simply has whoever is doing it make a small hole in the center (not removing any ice) and then it refreezes in an uneven pattern, the next day same thing. So, the walls get thicker and the hole gets smaller, with no water added.
Corporal; your right, that should be part of the job, but again, she doesn't do what is normal or expected.
Verona1016; that is a clever idea, and reasonable in cost. I am not sure if my girls wouldn't consider it a toy and/or try to eat it. I might give it a try, although I have noticed that the sides of the tubs also freeze so it my only work for a short while.
I did find a solution similar on line that I implemented in a pinch. I am using little plastic balls to float on top (they had suggested like a football, but I didn't have that handy) and it keeps a whole open when they push on it. It only works for a little while as the ice get's thicker it isn't effective as they freeze within it. However, they do make it easier to break the ice as they offer some "give" and then a hole to work with.
Thanks again for all the great ideas!
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