Sleipnir Morgan Horse Farm Blog

Horses and the need for clean fresh water


Everyone says horses need clean, fresh water.          But just what does that mean? How much? How often? How clean?

I recently found a very interesting and informative article on the Internet. Yes, sometimes that does happen. It is written by an academic veterinarian…a university professor. I do not know him. And I have no financial interest in the University of Delaware. Disclaimer given. I think the article is very good. The link is:  

Regarding washing a water tank, or bucket. People generally recommend Bleach or Vinegar to use as the cleaning solution. While I agree about vinegar or bleach, I prefer vinegar.
It can be used by young children helpers.
It doesn’t ruin clothes.
And it is harder to use too much.

Vinegar and bleach water will kill the vegetation in the area, especially on a warm sunny day. In fact, we use mixtures of either and water for natural weed control at our organic greenhouse. ( )
We also use salt as a scrubbing medium to remove algae/slime. It too won’t hurt children or animals.
We use new clean toilet bowl brushes from the discount store. They last quite awhile. Especially if put in the barn or shed after use, and not exposed to the elements.

As an aside: At times we have used vinegar in our water tanks to help ward off flies and other bugs. The vinegar makes the horses’ blood more acidic, and less tasty to the biting insects. Use it sparingly at first, and work the horse up gradually to a higher level. I forget how much we used. But I do recall that B-L Rhinestone Kid, our senior stallion, would let us know if we had gotten heavy handed, with too much vinegar in the tank for his taste. It defeats the purpose if the horse won’t drink the water.

A quick story about “how much water?”:
A few years ago, we were able to pick up a brand new water tank on sale at our local farm supply store. The manager told us that it was a returned item. The horse owner insisted that the tank leaked, because he had to keep filling it. He said his horses had never drunk that much water. Probably because they never had enough available before!     Of course we bought it. We still have it. It doesn’t leak, and never has. 

             A couple years ago we tried a new method for keeping the algae down in the tanks. We bought a dozen goldfish. For a couple tanks. They lived. The horses didn’t seem to mind them. We bought a half dozen for every tank on the farm. A dozen for the larger tanks. Did it help? It seemed to. But tanks still needed to be emptied and thoroughly cleaned. So, it added another step to take a bucket and net and “fish” them out of the tanks. One person who remains nameless, dumped a tank of fish in the grass. They were rescued.
The horses may have enjoyed their pets. And the fish lived quite awhile. Herons and such did not go fishing in the tanks. But I’m not sure that they were worth the extra effort. It was a conversation point. And the grandkids enjoyed them.
We did discuss catfish, like algae eaters in an aquarium. But I remember the albino catfish that were released/escaped in to the outdoors, and were disturbing native species and habitat. So, we stuck with goldfish. They are inexpensive and safe for the environment.

If you have small children, or like aquariums (we do) it was mostly fun!!!    But you still have to clean the tanks.