Gear Horse Care Tips

Buh-Bye Buckets: 5 Best Automatic Horse Waterers

horse automatic waterer
Written by Aimee B.

Fresh Water on Demand

“There’s got to be a better way,” you mutter as you wipe your sweaty brow and drag the hose across the paddock for the third time today.

Keeping your horses watered is essential, but does it have to take up so much of your time and energy? Could there be a more efficient way to ensure your horses meet their daily water quota—that doesn’t involve breaking ice in troughs in the dead of winter?

If you’re still watering your horses the old-fashioned way, it’s time to consider an upgrade in the form of automatic waterers. Automatic systems can reduce your workload, minimize water waste, and ensure your horse receives fresh, clean water year-round. Let’s explore various aspects of choosing an automatic waterer for your horses.

Automatic Waterers: The Basics

An automatic waterer is a device that provides horses with a continuous supply of fresh water.

Most automatic waterers are connected to a water source (such as a well or city water supply) and use gravity to fill the trough. As the horse drinks from the trough, more water flows in to replace what was consumed. 

There are many different types of automatic waterers on the market. Automatic waterers can be either freestanding or wall-mounted.

No matter the model, they all have one thing in common: they’re designed to make your life easier by reducing the amount of time and effort you spend watering your horses.

Old Fashioned vs. Automatic

Watering the horses takes on a whole new meaning when carrying heavy buckets of water across an ice-covered yard. Every step becomes a gamble on whether this misstep will be the one that breaks your ankle.

Although watering the old-fashioned way sounds adventurous, and vaguely similar to that cross-fit class you took 3 years ago, there are better ways to ensure your horse has the water he needs.

For starters, automatic waterers are much more efficient since they minimize water waste and ensure that each horse always has access to fresh water. These are difficult guarantees when your horse gets water from a trough or bucket.

Horse drinking

Photo Cred: Canva

Another significant advantage of automatic waterers is that they can be placed in strategic locations around the farm, which means you won’t have to waste time and energy dragging hoses or buckets all over your property.

Finally, automatic waterers are a great way to ensure your horses always have access to clean water. Since the water is constantly flowing, it’s less likely to become stagnant or contaminated.

And if you’re using an automatic waterer connected to a well or city water supply, you can rest assured that the water is high quality.

What does an automatic horse waterer cost?

Pricing can vary dramatically depending upon what type of system you buy and whether you need additional water line or electricity work to install the waterer.

Rough pricing estimates can vary from less than $500 to several thousand dollars.

Although up-front costs may seem high, you should consider the reliability that automatic waterers provide. They also reduce mosquito-borne illnesses and ensure that your horses get a constant supply of clean water.

Water costs associated with automatic waterers can be less than a traditional stock tank because a smaller amount of water is dispensed at once.

Cleaning stock tanks requires that you dump the entire tank and use extra water to scrub and rinse the tank. Automatic waterers require significantly less water for cleaning.

Automatic Waterer Features to Consider

  • Capacity – how many horses will be sharing the waterer
  • Climate – whether the waterer will be exposed to freezing temperatures in the winter
  • Installation – whether the waterer requires electrical and water hook-ups
  • Material – metal can be cleaned more thoroughly, but can be susceptible to stray voltage
  • Meter – some waterers come with a meter so you can track how much your horse(s) are drinking
  • Noise – Push valve waterers tend to be noisier than float valve waterers, so if your horse is easily startled, you may want to stick with a float valve

5 Fantastic Automatic Waterers

Category Product Price Point Key Features
Best Overall Little Giant Automatic Animal Waterer *
  • Simple installation
  • 4 gallon capacity
  • Float control design
Best for Pastures Classic Equine ULTRAFOUNT ***
  • 3.4 gallon/minute fill time
  • Heated trough
  • Durable design
Best Heated Option Ritchie Watermatic 150 **
  • Rugged design
  • Use for up to 40 horses
  • Extra heating unit available
Best Option with Drain Classic Equine EZFOUNT Waterer **
  • Portable or permanent
  • Easy to install
  • Polyethylene construction
Best for Multiple Horses Classic Equine AUTOFOUNT Waterer ***
  • Pasture use
  • Needs water line connection
  • Heavy duty

* = <$100, ** = $100-$500, *** = >$500

Best Overall: Little Giant Automatic Animal Waterer

If you’re looking for an economical and simple installation design, look no further! The Little Giant Automatic Waterer is essentially a bucket with a hose attachment. Its bucket shape and float design encourage hesitant horses to get the water they need daily.

And good news: the price won’t break the bank!

horse auto waterer

Click to see it at Amazon


  • Simple installation involves nailing it to a post or wall and attaching a hose.
  • The design is similar to a bucket with a 4-gallon capacity to encourage timid drinkers.
  • Research shows that most horses prefer the float-type control featured in this waterer.


  • There is some discrepancy in the product description and reviews on whether this model includes a drain.
  • Has no insulation, so it is likely not a good option for cold climates.

See it at Amazon

Best for Pasture Use: Classic Equine ULTRAFOUNT

The Classic Equine ULTRAFOUNT waterer was clearly designed with function and durability in mind. With a heated stainless steel trough, you can rest assured that your horses will have access to fresh water regardless of what Mother Nature throws at you.

And its energy-efficient design means you won’t pay an arm and a leg for that peace of mind either.

horse auto waterer

Click to see it at State Line Tack


  • Stainless steel trough design means you can thoroughly clean and disinfect the drinking surface.
  • Features a 2-drink unit.
  • Refills quickly at a rate of 3.4 gallons per minute, so your horses won’t have to wait for a fresh drink of water.


  • It may require additional plumbing and electrical work for proper installation.
  • This model is the priciest one featured in this post.

See it at State Line Tack

Best Heated Option: Ritchie Watermatic 150

If you’re looking for a waterer to get you through frigid winters, this is the waterer for you! With extra heating elements available, the Ritchie Watermatic will deliver fresh water to your horses even when the temperature drops.

Plus, they also include a drain for easy cleaning.

horse automatic waterer richie

Click to see it at Amazon


  • The Watermatic 150 is designed for rugged outdoor conditions.
  • Easy cleaning thanks to a drain.
  • The waterer also has a side access door for easy servicing.


  • May require professional assistance for installation.
  • The yellow and red color scheme is not the most aesthetically pleasing.

See it at Amazon

Best Option with a Drain: Classic Equine EZFOUNT Waterer

This waterer is easy to install and maintain. When it’s time to clean it, simply drain the water, scrub, and refill.

The waterer is designed by Ritchie, a legend in the automatic waterer business.

horse auto waterer

Click to see it at State Line Tack


  • The waterer hooks to a garden or washing machine hose, making installation a breeze.
  • You can choose to install the waterer temporarily or permanently.
  • Polyethylene construction means simple cleaning, and your horse can’t chew the material.
  • You can purchase a separate water measuring instrument to track how much your horse is drinking.


  • Does not come with a separate heating element, so it may need additional equipment to accommodate colder climates.
  • Refill is louder than other models, which may detract nervous horses.

See it at State Line Tack

Best for Multiple Horses: Classic Equine AUTOFOUNT Waterer

The AUTOFOUNT is also designed by Ritchie and can be used to water up to 40 horses. Its heavy-duty design and polyurethane construction ensure your horses will not crib or otherwise damage it.

With the optional drop-in heater, you can rest assured that the waterer will not freeze up in even the most frigid winters.

auto waterer horse

Click to see it at State Line Tack


  • Provides fresh, clean water for up to 40 horses.
  • It can be installed in a split pen to water multiple horse paddocks.
  • Ritchie has been a reputable animal waterer manufacturer for the past century.


  • Requires a permanent water source, so it may need additional preparation and set-up costs to install.
  • Given the more complicated set-up, it may not be ideal for only 1-2 horses.

See it at State Line Tack

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are automatic waterers good for horses?

There are multiple benefits to using automatic waterers. One of the biggest for horses is fresher, cleaner water. In contrast, stock tanks are reservoirs of algae and bacteria. Draining and cleaning huge stock tanks takes a great deal of time, effort, and excess water.

But using an automatic waterer makes the water supply much smaller, and there is less opportunity for contamination.

Stock tanks are also breeding grounds for mosquitos, increasing the risk for you and your horse. Automatic horse waterers have a much smaller water supply that is constantly flowing.

This means mosquitos do not have a chance to reproduce and your risk of mosquito-borne illness is lower.

Q: How much is an automatic horse waterer?

Horse waterer cost depends on how many horses it’s designed to serve and whether it’s a portable or permanent model.

Heavy-duty pasture waterers generally require a permanent water line below the freeze level. If you don’t already have a water line dug, you should calculate that cost into the final price.

Some waterers also need electricity, so you may need to calculate these costs in the final amount as well.

Your costs can be relatively low if you live in a warm climate and don’t need a heavy-duty system. The cost can be even lower if you can do all the work yourself.

Q: How do I teach my horse to use an automatic waterer?

Start by keeping a water bucket next to the waterer, so your horse begins to associate the new item with water. Horses are curious, and most figure out how to use a new waterer within a couple of hours. But you can also show your horse how to operate the waterer.

Carefully monitor your horse to ensure they understand how to use the waterer because you never want to restrict water.

Remove the bucket once you have observed your horse drinking from the new waterer.

Q: How much do Nelson horse waterers cost?

Nelson is one of the top names in the horse waterer industry. Although the prices are higher, they are typically reliable and durable. Depending upon the waterer’s capacity, you can expect to pay several hundred to several thousand dollars.

Parting Thoughts

Although you may feel a twinge of nostalgia at switching out the ol’ bucket and hose for a new-fangled automatic waterer, upgrading has benefits for you and your horse. Automatic waterers reduce water waste and mosquito infestation. They also help preserve your back by preventing you from needing to drag heavy hoses or carry water buckets in all types of weather.

Embrace technology by investing in an automatic waterer today! With all the time you’ll save, maybe you can finally take that relaxing trail ride you’ve been putting on the back burner.

Happy riding!

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About the author


Aimee B.

Aimee grew up riding and showing in western pleasure and horsemanship through 4-H. She began riding dressage 7 years ago and is currently training her 3.5-year-old Friesian/Quarter Horse.