Bucket Fuss

By Terry Golson

A horse drinks up to 10 gallons of water a day, so to make sure that Tonka is never thirsty, there are two buckets in his stall. Each morning, what wasn’t imbibed the previous day is dumped out, the buckets given a quick swish with a scrub brush, and fresh water is put in.


Both buckets are black. Not the same manufacturer, but similar plastic. Now that Tonka is on stall rest, I can see exactly what he’s drinking all day. I noticed that he was drinking only from the lefthand bucket. Every time I checked, that left one would be empty and the right one full. There was a bit of scum inside of the one he was refusing to drink from. Perhaps that was my horse’s issue. I scrubbed the offending bucket.

Tonka still refused to drink from the now sparkling clean bucket.

Maybe he only wanted to drink on the left? I swapped buckets. I watched as he put his nose into the left one, lifted it up, and drank out of the righthand bucket. For some reason that bucket on the left was still offensive.


I have a water bucket that I keep in my horse trailer. I removed the “bad” bucket from his stall and replaced it with my own. Tonka is finally drinking out of both buckets.


The rejected bucket will be used by some other, less discerning, horse.

5 thoughts on “Bucket Fuss

  • Jenn

    Ha! They talk if we listen. My horse has seasonal bucket preferences. He drinks out of the right hand bucket all summer and the left hand one in the fall and winter. I’ve switched buckets, swapped sides, etc. and that’s what he wants. We are even in a different barn with different water and he still prefers left over right depending on the season.

    • Terry Golson Post author

      That is so interesting! There must be a link to some event that he’s never forgotten. Or maybe, like some people, he likes having his “rules to live by.” 🙂

  • Shaste

    I have a new boarder who has decided not to go outside to drink fron the tank in his paddock, he’d rather have a bucket in his stall. And my dogs suddenly stopped drinking from the stainless water dish they’ve had for years. They must have their reasons!

    Hope Tonka is doing well and tolerating his confinement ok.

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