DIY: How to Make Insulated Water Buckets for Horses

DIY: How to Make Insulated Water Buckets for Horses

Help your horse have warm water even on a cold winter's day.

Horse water bucket placed inside another bucket to keep it warm

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The American Quarter Horse Journal logo

Is it cold where you live? 

AQHA Past President Ralph Seekins knows a little about keeping things warm in cold weather. The Fairbanks, Alaska, resident owns a Ford dealership where he often deals with the challenge of keeping vehicle fluids from freezing in temperatures dropping up to -50 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping water available to his horses required some auto part know-how, which he used to rig up water buckets in the barn for his family’s Quarter Horses.

Do-It-Yourself Insulated Water Bucket System

For each water contraption, keep two buckets full of water in the much-warmer tack room. Then, when it’s time to fill the horse’s water, you'll be starting with water at 65 degrees or warmer. The heater will keep water a pleasant 45 degrees for most of the day – enough time for the horse to drink it and be refilled. Replenishes the horses’ water in these buckets a minimum of twice a day.

Materials: DIY Water Bucket Warmer

•    A (clean) 20-gallon salvage drum barrel with a snap-top lid
•    Two stainless steel 5-gallon buckets
•    Length of heater hose, available at auto part stores
•    Silicone pad heater, used to warm oil in vehicles, available at auto part stores
•    Spray foam insulation
•    Cord clamp, available at home improvement stores

Instructions: Making Bucket Warmers for Horse Water

1. Cut a hole in the lid of the barrel big enough to hold a 5-gallon bucket.

2. Using a small hole saw, cut a hole in the barrel about 2/3 of the way and add the cord clamp.

3. Press heater hose around the exposed edges to protect horses from getting cut.

4. In the bottom of the barrel, place a 5-gallon bucket upside down.

5. Attach the silicone pad heater to the top of that upside-down bucket. Thread the cord through the hole and clamp.

6. Spray foam inside around the bottom bucket to hold it in place. 

7. Grind a notch on the bottom rim of the second bucket to make room for the cord.

8. Add the second bucket to the top, making sure it comes in contact with the bottom bucket’s heater.

9. Plug the heater’s cord into an electrical outlet, taking care that your horse can’t reach the cord to chew it.

10. Secure the lid onto the barrel and place the top bucket in the hole.

11. Fill the top bucket with water.

Winter Horse Care

Insulated buckets is just the tip of the water bucket iceberg when it comes to winter horse care. From blanketing to feeding, hoof care to shelters, we cover it all in AQHA's free e-book, Caring for Horses in Winter. Download your free copy and ensure you're keeping your horse safe and healthy through winter.