There’s one question we always get when it comes to the Drinking Post… “Is my horse smart enough to learn how to use this thing?”. It’s a fair question since the Drinking Post requires the animal to activate the water flow. But the answer is yes! Your animal is smart enough to learn the Drinking Post (and no, it doesn’t matter how old or stubborn they are). Most people think transitioning to the Drinking Post will take a long period of training – especially since most animals are accustomed to a stock tank or trough. However, it’s actually very simple to train your animal to use the Drinking Post! It’s much easier than you might think… almost too easy; in fact, a lot of people who have issues with training are just doing too much! And before you start to doubt if your animal will be able to learn the Drinking Post, just know that we’ve never had an animal that’s been unable to learn it. We even have special needs goats who have learned the Drinking Post! In this article I’m going to outline training for you and give you some helpful tips and tricks as well.
Step 1: Take away all other water sources
Before you even start your training you need to remove all other water sources that your animals might be able to access. If they have water available in another (easier) form, they will take the path of least resistance and will not be motivated to learn the Drinking Post. I mean, who can blame them? Work smarter, not harder, am I right? You have to make sure that if they want water, they have to go to the Drinking Post to get it! Don’t worry, they will thank you in the long run.
Step 2: Make sure they are thirsty
Before you show your animals the Drinking Post, you should make sure they are thirsty. After they eat a bunch of hay they will likely be more thirsty than after grazing (since grass has some water content). If it’s hot outside, they will become more thirsty than if they are hanging out in the cool barn all day. So try to start their training at a time they’re more likely to be thirsty. Since you’ve already removed their other water sources, they’ll be so happy when they realize that big white post that showed up the other day is their ticket to a cool drink! Keep in mind that you want them to be thirsty, not dehydrated. Don’t let them go too long without a drink (no longer than 8 hours).
Step 3: Install the Training Paddle
Next, you want to put your Training Paddle on. Get a screwdriver and switch the regular paddle out for the Training Paddle. The regular paddle is flat, whereas the Training Paddle has a larger, rounded shape. It takes up more surface area in the bowl so it’s easier for the animal to activate the water. If the animal is drinking down the water in the bowl they will end up activating the Training Paddle, even if they don’t mean to, because of its shape. This will help them understand how to use the Drinking Post.
If you have the newest iteration of the Drinking Post (the Ultimate Drinking Post), you will have the Easy Riser Attachment instead of the separate Training Paddle. You will simply clip the Easy Riser right to your regular paddle. It’s a very tight fit, so you may need to take the paddle off first before you clip on the attachment.
Step 4: Showtime!
Now that you’ve finished your setup steps it’s finally time to show your animals the Drinking Post! Walk your thirsty animal over to the Drinking Post (or you can fill the bowl and splash some water around, it’s likely a thirsty animal will get curious and come over). Once you have a captive audience, fill the bowl and let them start drinking! As they are drinking it down, they will activate the Training Paddle (or the Easy Riser Attachment) and the bowl will refill. The lightbulb in their head should being going off at this point! Once you’ve shown them one time, just walk away! This can be the hardest step, I know you’ll want to sit out there with them and keep watch to make sure they’re learning it, but that’s a big no-no! You just have to trust they will figure it out (and they will!). If they haven’t gotten it by the next day, go out there and show them again – just once! If you fill it for them over and over again, they are training you to use the Drinking Post for them! Repeat this once per day until they have learned. Some animals learn after just one demonstration, some need a few days to get the hang of it, but every animal will learn, don’t worry!
- If your animal is slow to pick it up, put some molasses on the paddle! This will encourage them to engage with the paddle. Inevitably, they will push the paddle as they are licking the molasses! Yum!
- If you have a group or herd, you don’t have to teach each animal individually – once one picks it up, the rest will be quick to follow. This is especially true with herds of cattle! As soon as you have one animal going to the Drinking Post to drink, everyone one else will start going as well. If you have a mama and baby pair, once mom learns, baby will follow suit.
- If you’ve followed all these steps and are still having trouble, you may have a special situation on your hands! Don’t fret, your animal will learn, just give us a call and we can help you figure it out!
These training steps are the same for every type of animal – horses, cattle, goats, sheep, or pigs. Even alpacas can learn the Drinking Post! Once your animals have mastered the Drinking Post, they will love it. We often hear that once they get the hang of it, they just can’t get enough! I don’t blame them, I’d be jazzed about it too if I suddenly got access to clean, cool water after drinking out of a warm, dirty trough my whole life. So don’t let the training deter you, it’s super easy and your animals will pick it up in no time! Not only will your animals get all kinds of health benefits from all the water they will be drinking, but it will make your life easier too – no more dealing with ice in the winter or algae in the summer! And no high electricity bills from heating your stock tank or heated automatic waterer all winter! For more information about what the Drinking Post will do for your animals, you can read up on the health benefits of the Drinking Post. You can also check out an abridged version of these training steps here