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Thirst System

Description: Horses require adequate daily water to remain happy and healthy. This system works cooperatively with the Hunger System.

The Food and Water systems do not work prior to 1.18.2-1.2.8+. This feature will not be fixed for 1.16.5.

Basics & Finding Water

Food search radius is a configurable value -  default is 15 but can be set from 5-40. Increasing this value can cause lag.

Horses will become thirsty twice per day, and will need 2 buckets of water between 7AM-8PM. When water is available, horses can drink:

  • From placed water troughs and half barrels in a 15 block search radius
  • From ground water (source or waterlogged block) in a 15 block search radius
  • Waterbucket hand-given by the player

Thirst Bar

This bar is NOT an indicator of daily thirst, but the Horse's overall thirst status. It decreases from full to empty as the horse fails to consume water on a single day or continuously over several days. Each level decrease indicates a different stage of thirst, from quenched (full) to exsiccosis (empty). Giving your horse extra water on a single day will not increase the value. See below for an explanation of how meals and missed drinks work.

Water/Food bar.gif


Horse thirst is a configurable value - if it is disabled none of your horses will experience thirst.

Horses have a meal time at 7AM every day after the horse wakes up.
If 24hr cycle is enabled via server config this will be 8AM GMT every real life day - provided the horse is loaded.

  • The thirst level is decreased so they can drink again.
  • Meal times will be skipped if the player sleeps through a storm
  • Meal times will be skipped if the horse is not rendered/loaded (so you can go explore or play elsewhere in SP)

Meals will be totaled up at 8PM every night before the horse sleeps.
If 24hr cycle is enabled via server config this will be 8AM GMT every real life day - provided the horse is loaded.

  • The previous drinking period will be logged as either met or missed. 

Missed Drinks
Horse will satisfy their drink requirement if they consume 2 buckets of water per day. When satisfied, they can progress between status' of thirst depending on whether they have missed any drinks previously. A horse that is missing 0 drinks will be considered satisfied and can remain satisfied with 2 bucket each day, or quenched if they get 4 buckets instead.

If a horse fails to consume 2 buckets of water in a day, that will be counted as a missed drink. Missing drinks will deteriorate the thirst status and slowly accumulate debuffs. Health can also be affected. Missed drinks must be recovered; each drink your horse satisfies consecutively will decrease the missed drinks value by 1. Craft and use the Vet Bag to view the status of any missed drinks.

Thirst Level (GUI) Status Missed Drinks Gaits Jump Obedience
5 Quenched 0 --- --- +10%
4 Satisfied 0 --- --- ---
3 Thirsty 1 -2s Stamina -10% -10%
2 Dehydrated 3 Max. Canter -20% -20%
1 Exsiccosis 7 Max. Walk -30% -30%


Water does not contribute towards or detract from health stats in the same way food does. However, missing drinks will prevent a horse from increasing their capped health stat. 

Negative Debuffs
When a horse is in exsiccosis, their maximum health value will decrease at 0.5 hearts (1HP) per day they are seriously thirsty.

  • Maximum HP will keep decreasing until a horse is missing 0 drinks (satisfied)
  • Maximum HP will be capped at 3 hearts (6HP) at the lowest
  • Actual HP will not decrease unless a horse takes physical damage
  • Maximum HP will recover gradually each day the horse is not missing any meals and drinks


Tack & Leading
Horses can drink if swimming, ridden or tacked, but not if they are on a lead (including if hitched). This is intentional to prevent the horse pathing to water while being led by a player. Leaving a horse hitched will restrict their ability to satisfy thirst.

Horses will always prioritize water over food if both are available, within their search radius and the horse is hungry/thirsty. 

Severely dehydrated horses will not pee as their body needs to conserve water to remain alive.

Horses will not die directly from critical thirst needs and fatality will not be implemented as a feature. However, horses can die from taking damage and are much more likely to do so with a decreased max health stat. The implemented system of missed drinks encourages players to keep their horses well watered and rehabilitate their horses back to full health with regular care to provide a non-fatal consequence to neglect.

Xaero's Minimap has a useful feature to display the in-game time so you never have to miss your mealtimes again!


[Read More] My horse is not drinking!

The most likely reason for a horse not drinking is:

  • Horses are not loaded during meal times (7:00AM) so their needs were not set to decrease.
  • The world has the 24hr cycle enabled in server config so food only resets at 8AM GMT if horses are loaded.
  • The world has /gamerule doDaylightCycle set to false so time does not pass to allow meal times to take effect
  • Horses cannot access water - obstructed by something else (ie shavings around a trough)
  • Horses cannot find water in their search radius - ~15B in any direction to reduce lag for multiple searching horses.
  • Horses have already drunk enough to satisfy their meal points and do not need to drink any more.
[Read More] The mealtimes are just too much work, but I still want thirst!

Unfortunately we can only offer immersive realism, or disabling thirst entirely at this point. If you are finding the feeding system to occupy too much of your MC day (and you don't like that), you can do one of the following:

  • Pause the time for a while if you have access to commands
  • Avoid rendering them around meal times on days you just want to chill
  • (MP) Board your horse out to another player to take care of (or who won't render them) for a while.
  • Turn off one or the other (hunger or thirst) to reduce your daily tasks. Disabling hunger will impact your ability to level health, whereas disabling thirst will have less significance on gameplay.


Try a mod like Hourglass to extend the MC day +/- night so you have more time between days in order to take care of your horses. For example, you could set a double length day (20 minutes) or even higher so the day passes slower. You can even elect to keep the same, shorter or longer length of night. The horses will still reset their needs at the right times even though the time progression speed is altered!

You will still need to have daylight cycle on, and render horses at meal times to enjoy your slower paced horse care!

[Read More] How to set thirst related stats or needs?

Players must have sufficient permissions (OP or ranks on MP servers) or cheats enabled (SP) to use commands.

/time set 999                                              Change the time to ~7:00 AM - just before the morning meal time

/swem set allNeeds [1-5]                          Set a horse's needs (health, hunger, thirst) to the specified value or level.

/swem set health [1-5]                              Set a horse's health value to the specified value (HP: 6 / 10 / 20 / 30 / 40) 

                                                                         Note: Will be capped by the maximum value allowed with the health skill.

/swem set hunger [1-5]                              Set a horse's hunger status to the specified level (1 - Starving / 5 - Fully Fed)

/swem set thirst [1-5]                              Set a horse's thirst status to the specified level (1 - Exsiccosis / 5 - Quenched)


Meal times are fondly referred to as 'hungy' times - which is not a typo. These have been referred to as that ever since the initial concept for a meal and time based food/water system, and that phrase is accurate even down to the code level.

Known Issues

If you find an issue, please report it to our bugs channel on Discord. We ask that you look to see if your issue was reported first!

  • [-] 1.18 Missing half-height lean out transition animation (snap out of drinking 1B high water sources). Fixed in 1.20.1.


View Changes

This is not a complete list of version changes / fixes. It is a changelog of relevant wiki-related version information.

MC Version Release Notes
1.20.1 1.18.2-1.3.2 Added missing half height lean-out transition animation.
1.18.2-1.3.0 [Bug Fix] Water only resets at 7AM for 2 Buckets, instead of 7AM and 8PM.
1.18.2-1.2.7 Implemented new thirst system, uses feed system's 'hungy times'
1.16.5 1.16.5-

Thirst system is broken in 1.16.5 release and will not be updated.

  • Horses do not deteriorate in thirst
  • Horses do not seek out and eat or drink but can still be given water