With a record heat wave hitting most of the country, we must do all we can to ensure our horses are drinking enough water. Adding electrolytes to their feed or water helps, but the color of the water bucket may also play a part.
Some horse owners have a certain color (usually the owner’s favorite or one that compliments the horse’s color) that they use for everything from the horse’s halter to tack to buckets.
But do horses have a color preference?
Kentucky Equine Research performed a study to see if horses preferred one color of water bucket over another and found out they did.
A total of six horses (three Thoroughbreds and three Haflingers) were fed the same diet and turned out for seven hours a day in paddocks. Six different colored water buckets were placed equally apart and rotated each day of the 18-day study.
Their findings were based on water intake which revealed that horses prefer turquoise buckets the best. Shades of blue ranked the highest with light blue coming in second followed by light green, green, yellow, and red.
Researchers suggest trying a turquoise or light blue water bucket to encourage horses to drink.
Horses may prefer blue colors because of their dichromatic color vision. This means horses only see shades of blue and yellow.
No matter what color bucket you use it is important to monitor how much water your horse is drinking. On average, a horse will drink between 5 and 15 gallons of water a day. If your horse is kept outdoors 24/7, you can still make sure they are getting enough water by checking their gums and doing the pinch test.
“Hydration can easily be assessed in individuals within a herd by feeling their gums to ensure they are moist and pinching a small area of skin on their neck or shoulder to watch it bounce back to its normal position,” shared Peter Huntington, director of nutrition at Kentucky Equine Research.
Now before you go and paint your water tank blue, this is just a suggestion. It would be interesting to see if horses were drawn to other colors like purple that is made up of the color blue or silver which is the typical color of water tanks.
Fresh, clean water is the most important part, and the color of bucket is secondary.