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Bar-Bar-A frost-free automatic waterers. The cat's pajamas or all wet?

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    Bar-Bar-A frost-free automatic waterers. The cat's pajamas or all wet?

    You guys! I think I just encountered the greatest accoutrement this past week: The Bar-Bar-A frost free automatic waterer.

    The short question:

    1. Is this thing, in fact, the greatest? By that I mean horses like it **, it's tough and low maintenance?

    2. Do you dislike automatic waterers so much that you'd never have them?

    For those of you who don't know about these, but wish to weigh-in, here you go:

    The idea is that the waterline is buried below the frost line. When the horse depresses the paddle, water (all cool, or warm from the ground) fills the bowl. When the horse is done, all the water drains back down to below the frost line.

    **I know that horses like to drink deeply and with their heads down, as from a low, full stock tank, so I'm not sure I'd make this the only water source I ever offered my horses. But what do you think? Would you put one of these out a paddock as the only source of water, even if it would be checked just about daily? Would you do this before you put a stock tank and frost-free hydrant out there?

    I'm in the Southeast, so we don't have many days a year where water would freeze over.

    Would you put these in a stall? They seem very safe and hard to get hurt on.

    Thank you!
    Last edited by mvp; Aug. 13, 2019, 09:17 AM.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat

    I've had Bar-Bar-A waterers in my two pastures for the past 13 years, mostly as only source of water. I think they are wonderful and very low maintenance.


      I have one and love it. It takes a few days for horses to learn how to press the paddle. I had to remove all other water sources. The spookiest horse picked it up first!! I was quite surprised. They love it. And it works!!


        I searched to find out what they look like and Google turned up this old thread about them:

        ... with Patrick and Henry


          I had one installed when I bought my 10 acres. Best money I've spent.

          Love that there's no electricity
          Love that no other critter can commit suicide by drowning
          No more frozen slabs of ice to remove.
          No more more dumping, scrubbing etc.

          Worth it!!!!
          <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


            Original Poster

            Thank you all. Thank you, wsmoak especially, for finding that old thread. I did not!

            My take-away from that old thread-- these suckers might not work in the coldest of cold-- Michigan and Montana. But they seem to do OK without extreme cold and inconsiderate, destructive horses, LOL.

            My major problem here in South Carolina will be heat and algae. I think these waterers might be a good solution for that... better than any water that keeps water in the bowl.
            The armchair saddler
            Politically Pro-Cat


              Originally posted by mvp View Post
              My take-away from that old thread-- these suckers might not work in the coldest of cold-- Michigan and Montana. But they seem to do OK without extreme cold and inconsiderate, destructive horses, LOL.

              My major problem here in South Carolina will be heat and algae. I think these waterers might be a good solution for that... better than any water that keeps water in the bowl.
              Yes, I have a Nelson in the pasture (because horses with grazing muzzles may or may not be able to use a Bar Bar A safely) and a Bar Bar A in the fenceline between my horses' runs off the stalls. My Nelson gets gross in the summer surprisingly quickly. If I travel and the farmsitter is lazy, I come back to a bowl of green green water. The Bar Bar A on the other hand, stays clean with no effort on my part.

              The horses seem to love the fresh and cool-but-not-cold water. Even if I hang buckets, they prefer the Bar Bar A. Typically whenever one of them drinks, the others stand around watching then take their turn. I call it water cooler time.

              I did have one horse that liked to stick his foot in it, which obviously made it filthy and clogged, so I put a barrel around it so they can reach in to drink but can't get a foot inside (see pic). I cut it lower on one side so the mini-donk could reach in. I put reliable horses on that side and questionable or PITA ones on the higher side.

              I did have one odd malfunction this winter that made me think the Bar Bar A had frozen, but it rectified itself without any real increase in temps and never happened again.
              Last edited by Libby2563; Aug. 13, 2019, 11:10 AM.
              Building and Managing the Small Horse Farm:


                I have 4 of these in my pastures and they are hands down the best ever. I never have to clean them. They never freeze. The horses love that the water coming from the well is always close to the same temperature year round. Best option ever!


                  My barn owner put them in their boarding stalls two years ago and they love them. I have had to put my horse (who is usually in a large pen with a tank) in a stall a couple times and it took her as long as it took her to push the paddle down to learn where the water came from. I wish they would put them in the pens but I don’t think that will happen. Nice waterers.



                    Original Poster

                    So if you put one waterer in a fence line, do you line it up so that the paddle is parallel to the fence? The horse are purpendicular to it and they depress it with no problems?

                    Y'all could save me 50% per waterer/allow me to buy more if you think they can be installed on a shared fence line!
                    The armchair saddler
                    Politically Pro-Cat


                      I have them and they never need cleaning, never freeze (NJ), and some of my horses beat the heck out of them. The do have to lower their heads to them, and they drink very deeply from them. They drink more than if you have 2 buckets in their stalls. I think they are too small to put in a fence line, but I could be wrong. I would contact the manufacturer, and ask them. They would know if people are using them like that...You will not regret installing them.


                        Originally posted by mvp View Post
                        So if you put one waterer in a fence line, do you line it up so that the paddle is parallel to the fence? The horse are purpendicular to it and they depress it with no problems?

                        Y'all could save me 50% per waterer/allow me to buy more if you think they can be installed on a shared fence line!
                        This is exactly how I have mine. Two are in shared fence lines and two are out in other fields. My husband installed them for colder climates even though we live in Virginia and not only do they never freeze but the water is also nice and cool in the summertime as it comes from a bit deeper.


                          Long ago in Europe some stables had the paddle waterers.
                          There were always some horses that spent their time playing with the water and flooding everything.
                          Finally we had to go to those that work off a float the horses can't access.

                          At least with these waterers it seems that the water won't flood, just goes back into the ground?


                            Original Poster

                            Anyone ever tried putting one of these low to the ground so that the horse could get the added luxury of putting his head down low as God intended? I can imagine the ingrate horse who would paw in it or worse. But I'd be psyched to put the bowl on one of these as low as possible. Maybe ears level with withers would be a happy thing for the big-drinking horse?
                            The armchair saddler
                            Politically Pro-Cat


                              We have these at our barn. They are just ok. You have to teach horses to use them which can be a pain. If sand and gravel and hay etc. gets in, they can clog. The first winter two ended up frozen, requiring us to use a trough and float heater until it thawed enough to dig them totally out and fix.

                              They are low enough to have withers and poll abit level while drinking.

                              Just really make sure they are super freeze-proofed while being installed. My barn owner put 4 in, in total, deciding not to replace her other two hidden float waterers.

                              You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng


                                When you install them as intended, a 17 hand horse is drinking a bit above their knees.


                                  I love love LOVE mine

                                  it's in a shared fenceline. Paddle is aligned parallel with the fence


                                  It's plenty low to be comfortable for my 17.2 horse. It's about collie face level, not that high. She quickly learned to work it.
                                  "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"