How to keep the water buckets from freezing at the barn


With all of the beauty of winter, comes the giant pain in the butt to keep water buckets from freezing. Not only is this a major muscle-building chore, but frozen buckets can also send your horse into a state of dehydration – not so good.


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Ideas for preventing frozen water


large heated horse bucket for water

So handy – self-contained and safe!


For Buckets:


  • Insulating wraps. These can be electric or not. Am I the only one that thinks a cord from your horse’s water bucket is a questionable idea? Non-electric insulating wraps are definitely an option. For these, you typically have to fill the bucket with hot water, so if your barn is hot water-less these may not work.


  • There are also small little heaters that you can pop into buckets to keep the water from freezing. Again, there’s the whole cord thing. I’m also not a fan of anything that you drop into a bucket that drapes over the side. Buckets are high-tech now and can easily be a self-contained bucket and heater, with no horse tempting parts and cords.


rubber bucket that will not crack in cold weather

Rubber buckets are great for winter use.


  • If you do have the occasion to have frozen water in your buckets, make sure the buckets are rubber. Any other type often smashes into pieces when you are busting the ice.


heated water tub

This spiffy blue bucket has a heating element in it! The turbo-strong and insulated cord connects to a power source.


For Troughs:


  • Troughs are generally a bit easier to keep from freezing. Because they are large, and crazy heavy when filled, they are not as much of a potential toy as a bucket. Trough heaters can plug into the bottom of the trough, cords can be far removed from horses. The heaters are designed to not touch the bottom of the trough, most attach through the drain hole.


water trough with heating element at the bottom

The heating element is attached to the drain hole.



  • I have heard that some people put soccer balls into troughs, but does this work? No idea. I can just imagine a soccer ball getting frozen into the trough.


frozen horse water trough



For Automatic Waterers:


  • Many automatic watering systems are a far cry from the floating balloon models of years ago. Now, they are available with all sorts of bonus features, like heating the water and also being able to meter water consumption. If you have an automatic watering system that does not warm the water to prevent freezing, you need to provide an additional water source. You may also need to insulate those lines into your non-warming automatic waterer. Frozen pipes that burst are the worst!


automatic horse waterer that is heated

Great! Automatic and heated!


  • A general tip – make sure your barn’s pipes are deep enough to avoid freezing. If you suspect your pipes are not deep enough, use your compost to create a little mountain over the pipes, this adds extra layers. This is a significant heat source if the compost is in the middle of the compost cycle.



What’s your secret to providing fresh, unfrozen water to your horse in winter?


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