Nelson pasture waterer

Anyone have a Nelson (or similar) pasture waterer? We’re building a house and barn. The barn has a small paddock off the back where the dutch doors are. Was thinking of installing a pasture waterer (with heater). Wanted to hear feedback from those who have one and if there are any points to consider.

This may not apply to your situation, but some grazing muzzles won’t fit into a Nelson waterer. If your horses have to wear grazing muzzles, be sure they can get a drink.

This is a good point that I’ve been weighing heavily. According to Greenguard muzzles, whose muzzles tend to be larger than most brands due to their square shape and solid construction, the large 16" diameter nelson waterers will accomodate their muzzle. However, the picture they show of a horse drinking out of a nelson waterer with a GG muzzle scares me a bit because it is really squished in there:

We put the Nelson’s in at the old house and now our new house. They are easy for the horses to figure out. The company is very helpful and a tech called to help walk me through the one issue we had. Never had a problem with freezing even in Michigan.

We went with the draft size larger bowl waterer in the recommendation from our installer as he said they are easier to work on and grazing muzzles will fit. There is plenty of room for us to swap filters.

One caveat! Get an installer that knows what they are doing! They should be installed on a cement pad to prevent shocks from stray voltage, and Nelson has other recommendations to ensure they will work well for you.

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I’d go with a Bar-Bar-A Horsedrinker instead. Super insulated, NO electricity needed and, yes, a muzzled horse can get to the water.

I’ve had one for almost 6 years without a single hitch. Easy for a commercial plumber to install, 99.9% maintenance free. No bowl to scrub. No critters committing suicide.

Worth every penny.

There are a ton of threads on Nelson waterers. I’ve had 4 in my pastures for 15 years and highly recommend them.

:rofl: That picture is of my young horse who was euthanized for DSLD a few years ago. That goofball would absolutely squish his head in anywhere it would fit! (After I emailed GG a bunch of questions about waterers and suggested they put a list together, they hired me to do it, so I wrote that page you linked.)

I see what you’re saying about the picture though! Let me see if I have any that show the clearance better. I don’t think it’s as tight as it looks. The horse-sized GG is 8.5” across where the halter straps attach and tapers down to 6” across at the bottom, and the inner diameter of the Nelson is 9.5”.


We have 2 Nelson pasture waterers Installed on concrete pad. With heaters. In 20 years of use, we’ve had to replace the heaters ( not surprising) and replaced the valves and filters. Our well water is acidic so it’s not surprising. Most of the copper pipes in the house have had to be replaced. Very easy for the horses to use.

The BO at a barn I left last fall installed 7 heated units at least 15 years ago. They cover all of the paddocks and fields. They are extremely reliable including when we have had prolonged periods with temperatures below zero in southern Maine. There was one problem with stray current that was solved with a grounding rod by the unit. If they aren’t working right the horses jiggle the bowl or kick the very thick stainless. Nelson’s customer support is excellent. the DH keeps parts on hand. They run off a separate existing well with a hookup for a generator. BO complains about them needing many repairs but she is off-base. I helped out with chores years ago hauling the hose around, pounding ice, keeping the heaters and extension cords functioning. I think this beats getting up at the crack of dawn when it’s below zero to pound ice and fill tanks during a blizzard.

I had to move to another barn (care issues with my horse) in November. My horse is coming 27 and was outside for 19 years. Really hates stalls. The new barn has 12x12 with an opening in the grill so they can stick their heads out. There is a big back door to his oversize run that is always open. There is a heated Nelson in every stall and the bowl is pulled and cleaned when stalls are picked. There is one horse who won’t use them so he gets a bucket. My gelding is spending almost all of his time outside so the stall functions like a run-in shed. He still hates stalls. The back doors were closed when a horse was being put down and he wasn’t happy,

As a boarder I like the guarantee they have potable water at the correct temperature all the time regardless of the weather.

I had no idea! Good job on the article! I find it extremely helpful. I had no idea that was your Remy.

Thanks for the extra info! Did you feel like he could get the muzzle caught on the metal rim? That would be my fear, especially since my horses love finding unique ways to injure themselves.

Well I would never say that anything is impossible with horses!!! But I do think it is unlikely because the muzzle can’t really go down far enough to get under the lip, and the sides of the muzzle are smooth and tapered.

I haven’t had any muzzled horses for a while so I took another look and more pics for you, and I will say it is a much tighter fit than the measurements make it seem or than I remember. In these photos the muzzle is as far in as it can reasonably go, and it is only about an inch into the water. I could definitely see a horse getting frustrated with that.


I really appreciate you taking the time to do this. It’s all very helpful information.

I’m optimistic we will install auto waterers in the not so distant future. But I’m also going to have muzzled horses and donkeys for the foreseeable future, so most of the brands I’m interested in are not options.

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Is this the standard horse or the larger draft waterer? I feel like I have more room in mine.

That is the larger one (16"). Maybe my muzzle grew! :rofl:

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Or mine shrunk !!

We installed 760 Series - 16" and mine are both muzzled (one in a Best Friend and the other in the Tough One Deluxe). Both muzzles fit in the waterer BUT with that said, I have yet to see my one horse use the waterer so I keep a muck tub going for her. It’s not been a big deal at all and have a hydrant right next to it.

I can post a pic of our design and set up if you want. It’s between a fence with the wood brace around it.

I have 10 Nelsons on property. I absolutely LOVE them. Mine didn’t freeze during the Polar Vortex a few years ago, and one was all alone in a windy open field in -54 degree temps. Amazing!

I have only 2 criticisms: 1. it is a PITA for my hay dunker boarder in a stall (we hang buckets for him too because it makes SUCH a mess) and 2. it’s a little too tall for my mini donkey so he also gets a bucket. I installed the waterer before I got him, or I would put a short one in his field. He also gets a bucket but I’m thinking of just making him steps.

That gets my vote!! I had him in mind when I installed my waterers so I kept them low. It still took him a while to decide they wouldn’t eat him (typical donkey cautiousness, haha).

We have Nelson pasture waterers, and my horse has no problems with his Greenguard muzzle and drinking out of them. I love them, they’re completely rock solid and we never have to touch them.

I have 3 Nelsons. I have had to do service on them every year since we have been here, at least once. I try to do it before the cold weather so I can make it through the winter without having to work on them in the freezing cold. And I check the heaters every fall, but so far have not needed to replace them. I had to replace a set of insulators on one though.

That said, service is fairly easy. We do not have the draft size, so it is a pain getting your hand down in there to change filters, but it can be done. That’s been the most common issue. I have had a few leaks develop. One was just an old corroding connection to the valve. Easy to replace. We have really bad water and even with the filter in place, we sometimes get sludge in the valve and that will lead to a leak. Ours are probably 10+ years old, so parts do wear out, but replacement is pretty easy. We’ve only had to take the whole thing apart once and that was to replace a frozen valve. And that was pretty straightforward. It froze due to electric issue, not issue with the waterer.

They have preformed well in the winter although the previous owner said they can freeze up if they are not regularly used. So in the winter, I put insulated covers on two of them and don’t use. That forces them to use the one at the barn and it keeps it running freely. It survived the polar vortex this last year.

I don’t think a muzzle would work in the one we have. I think you could get the muzzle in, but not down far enough to get a good drink. At least with the muzzles we have here.