Water is the most essential nutrient for your horse. Admittedly, our mini Frodo would argue that any food item is totally essential, but in reality, horses can go without food for a while. Dehydration can be fatal quite rapidly however.
Horses will drink stale, dusty water if that is all they have available. Ideally your horse should have fresh, clean water available 24/7. In the warm weather, cool water often gets drunk more while in cool weather; some warm water goes down even better.
Water tubs and buckets should be dumped at least every other day. That reduces mosquito larvae and keeps dust and bugs from building up on the water. Actually, you should give those buckets and tubs a quick scrubbing and rinse after you dump them and before you refill. Why is it that I find that more satisfying than cleaning the bathrooms?
Many horses like to play in water. They may splash in a creek on a trail ride or even go to roll in shallow water – not ideal for riders or tack.
Our Arab Monte lived at a couple of places with ponds in the pasture. He would happily wade in on hot days. He will also let his lower lip droop into the water tub and slosh it around. Recently there were accounts of an Arab doing a photo shoot on the beach in California who spooked and took off swimming strongly out into the Pacific!
Cinnamon the Appaloosa sticks her muzzle deeply into fresh cool water and swirls it around. Kelsey the Quarter Horse would blow bubbles in the water tub. Kelsey would also sometimes grab the hose while we were filling the tubs and swing it around with glee. All of the horses enjoy baths and being hosed off on hot days and when they are sweaty.
The donkeys drink deeply but they do not seem to play in their water. Spice, the younger donkey, does like to drink from the hose though. They also do not appreciate baths – we made that mistake once. Never again though Sugar charging around the field covered in suds was quite a sight!
We are fortunate in upstate NY that we usually have plenty of water. During a drought year there may be some restrictions but our own wells have never gone dry – yet.
Do your horses enjoy water or tolerate it?