Horses have a tendency of eating properly, or how would we have come up with the expression “eating like a horse”? However, at times, horses can be picky eaters and this needs to be addressed as soon as possible to avoid lack of nutrition and substantial weight loss. Of course, there are several factors to take into account, such as a horse that eats a sufficient amount but perhaps not the right type of food, or the horse that simply refuses to eat. Here are some tips and tricks to keep your horse eating healthy.
For the horse that just won’t eat what it is supposed to but its appetite is just fine, here is what you can do:
- Mix the new feed in what the horse is actually already eating, increasing the amount very slowly and decreasing the amount of treats or unhealthy food slowly as well. Keep tabs on calories, though.
- Try to give it what it doesn’t like when it is really hungry, and avoid giving it anything else for a while. It may just accept the unwanted food after a few tries.
- If you have another horse, try to make it feel like it has to compete for the food, or use the “follow-by-example” tactic.
- Using oil for powdered feed dilutes it, making the smell and taste less prominent.
- Be firm. Try not to cave in as much as you can by taking back the food your horse doesn’t like.
- If you are using concentrates, try switching flavour.
For the horse that isn’t eating enough, here are a few tips:
- Get a vet check-up. Your horse may have ulcers or even a small injury like foot or joint problems. When they’re in pain, they’re less likely to eat.
- Add grains. If that’s what you need to get your horse to a proper weight, do it. But keep it to the very bare minimum.
- Let the horse choose its own grass of preference by putting out a few different types.
- Always have more than what the horse needs in its feeder.
- Beet pulp and wheat bran has the right amount of calories, but may actually be a better choice than grains because it has the right fibre digestion support.
- Anise and fenugreek, used sparingly, could be good enough to tempt your horse to eat more.
- Spray the food with a bit of natural peppermint extract if the horse likes that flavour better.
With these tips in mind, your horse should be back to a healthy weight and diet in no time!
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