What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Dunks or Soaks Hay in Water Bucket


This observation is common in horses that have dental issues or discomfort in their mouths from another cause. It is most common in old horses with poor teeth. However, some horses simply engage in this behavior normally and have no diagnosable dental or oral problems.

The behavior may be beneficial to the horse in that abrasive feed stuffs are softened and hydrated. Total water intake may be higher, but if feed is allowed to ferment in the water source, then water can be fouled and horses may stop drinking.

  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If you want to rule out any physical issue being a factor in the behavior.

your role


What To Do

Assess your horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to how the horse eats and whether it seems normal or not. Assess teeth and mouth (wear gloves) looking for other abnormalities.

From a management standpoint, be very careful to keep waterers sufficiently clean so that that horses continue to drink well. Consider moving feed tub far enough from water source so that the behavior moderates.

your vet's role

With a careful physical and dental exam, your vet can help you rule out dental issues as a cause. Sometimes this behavior stops or lessens after dental work is performed.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Does your horse seem normal otherwise?
  • When did you first notice the behavior?
  • Does your horse show any other signs of dental problems, such as difficulty eating, slow eating, dro
  • Have you changed your horse's feed or management lately?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP