We prefer hard plastic or polypropylene buckets, such as Horseman’s Pride or Schneider’s Saddlery Super buckets. The smooth plastic is easy to wipe or brush clean every day before refilling with fresh water (if you don’t clean your buckets every day, they’ll develop a slimy film). Use Dawn detergent or baking soda for heavy build-up, as both clean and rinse out well.
Eventually, a plastic water bucket will pick up odors and make the water less appealing to some horses. The only buckets that don’t pick up odors are stainless steel, which is expensive, or galvanized steel, which is difficult to find in a bucket. If you notice your horse stops drinking water and can find no other reason for it, try a brand-new bucket.
Some people like the flexible rubber buckets, such as Fortiflex, because they’re easy to break ice out of, as you can step on them and smash the ice out without damaging the bucket itself. (We use a rubber hammer on our hard plastic buckets to remove ice.) However, eventually the rubber buckets begin to show ”threads” on the interior, from the pull of the ice and brushing them clean. When this happens, replace the bucket.
We used 10 flatback water buckets from a variety of sources, including the top brands. They ranged in price from about $7.50 to $20.
Of all these, the only one that didn’t get squashed by our designated horse tester was the one from Horseman’s Pride. It never lost its shape, probably due to its incredibly tough plastic and galvanized steel hardware. The Fortiflex bucket bounced back into shape well, until our horse bent the hardware.
If you’ve got a bucket-killer horse, try the Horseman’s Pride, as we think it’s the most durable bucket out there, although it’s a little on the heavy side. Note: The brands of buckets in this trial are all sold by major retailers throughout the country. Ask for the bucket by brand name.