How do horses drink?

Lead a horse to water – and he or she most likely will drink it, loudly. A horse will drink 15 to 20 gallons of water on an average day – more when the weather is hot. Mere humans are advised to drink between 11 and 15 cups, less than a gallon, daily. 

Horses don’t lap up water with their tongues like dogs and cats. Instead, they suck water in through their lips. 

Water is the most important nutrient for horses, who are approximately 70% water. Therefore, a carriage like Katie, who weighs 1,700 pounds, has approximately 145 gallons of water inside of her. 

Water is very important for horses’ digestion and to cool their body temperatures, which they do by sweating. 

In Central Park, horses have access to two water troughs year-round, at the Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue entrances to the park. These historic troughs have been restored and plumbed so that they run even in cold weather, providing access to fresh and cool water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The water flows in from the stream at the top and then the basin is filled to a certain level before draining out. 

It can be fun to wait by these troughs and see the horses stop for a drink as they pass by. Some horses make noisy slurping noises as they suck down the water, while others are much daintier. 

Some horses are very messy and spit out their last mouthful of water (for these horses, this also lets their driver know they are done drinking and ready to move on, instead of just taking a pause between sips). Some horses shove their whole nose in the trough and drink from near the bottom, while others prefer the very freshest water as it enters the trough. 

On a hot day, you might even see the carriage horses splashing and playing in the water. The sweeper who keeps the carriage stands tidy also drains and cleans the water troughs daily. 

You can even fill up your water bottle from the spigot before it enters the trough – it’s New York City’s famous and delicious tap water!