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Installing an automatic waterer will make caring for your horse easier and more cost effective. The greatest advantage is that your horse will consume more water as a result. He will enjoy always having fresh, cool water accessible in the summer and warmer, fresh water during the winter. You will also not have to deal with frozen buckets or external electric heaters during the winter months.
The numerous advantages of an automatic waterer are obvious. For one thing you will no longer have to be filling and cleaning buckets. This also means your horse will no longer consume dead bugs or mosquito larvae when getting a drink. Your horse can become infected with serious diseases, such as the West Nile virus, simply from drinking standing water. Standing water has been a culprit of horse illnesses for as long as horses have been domesticated. Using an automatic watering system also eliminates the comsumption of dirt and algae.
An automatic waterer will cost between $300 to $800 US dollars (USD). You will also have to dig a trench to connect your watering system to your water supply. However, your automatic waterer will pay for itself within a very short time, plus you will discover that your horse’s health will benefit grately.
There are several variations of the automatic waterer on the market. Some have electric heaters built in to prevent water from freezing in the winter. Some can be installed inside your barn or your horse’s stall and others are designed for the pasture. There are enough models available to choose whatever price range and specifics fit your horse’s needs.
Most automatic waterers are either stainless steel or aircraft grade aluminum. They are either float controlled, valve controlled or paddle activated. Horses have a natural curiosity that will aid them in learning to use and enjoy the waterer quickly. Most barns report that their horses learn quickly and enjoy their water more because the automatic waterer adds entertainment to the process of getting a drink.
The general consensus for practicality and efficiency favor the natural horse waterers. These run through pipes under the ground and do not need a pump or electricity to run but simply rely on your water pressure. When your horse pushes his nose on the fountain paddle, the water will fill the bowl and he can drink.
Ideally, the water you connect to will come from a well. This allows for water to remain a constant temperature all year round. Some automatic waterers also have a self cleaning system which brings water up through one pipe and drains the unused water into another pipe. Then the remaining water drains and leaves the bowl clean.
For those that are concerned about monitoring the amount of water that your horse is consuming, there are optional consumption meters that can be attached to the waterer. Most barns report that dehydration issues are eliminated in horses that have a tendency to not drink enough. This is especially advantageous for working horses and seniors. With the health of your horse being your priority, an automatic waterer will serve all your needs.
I have Ritchie too! Mine aren't as old as yours -- just a couple years old. I have the ones with the metal bowls and plastic base. Love them and don't know what I did before them.
Very good, non biased article on automatic waterers. I prefer Ritchie waterers as they have been around the longest. Well actually, I think mine have been around the longest. They are *old.*