Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: middle of nowhere
Did you recently put in a tank heater or change the tank when this started? Sometimes it's due to anxiety, but I have seen horses do this if the water heater is shorting slightly, or if the plug isn't grounded properly. The horse needs to drink, but is expecting an unpleasant tingle when he does, so he gets anxious and paws. Horses can pick up on electric problems long before people can. When we noticed our horses pawing at the tank last winter, we figured something was up. We couldn't feel anything with the water shocking or anything, but once we got a new heater, the behavior stopped. One mare of mine years ago started doing this, and she had an abscessed tooth... I shudder to think how excruciating drinking cold water must have been if the water sloshed against that tooth!
If this is new, I'd look at something along those lines. Either he's uncomfortable somehow with the tank (smaller opening, water is a different temp, something is painful in his mouth and drinking makes it worse, he's being bullied off the water by another horse, heater or plug is having a problem, etc.)