Though most horses have no trouble eating whatever you put in front of them, there are the occasional few who turn their nose up at certain feeds, medications, or supplements and this can make feeding time frustrating, to say the least.
If you happen to have a picky eater, first and foremost, it’s important to determine why he’s being picky in the first place. If refusing to eat is a new thing, I would certainly get your veterinarian involved, as your horse many have developed a digestive disorder such as ulcers, a dental issue, or may even suffer from chronic pain (common in older horses).
However, if your horse is just generally picky, especially about supplements or medications, here are a few tips which might help:
Don’t just top dress supplements; rather, mix them in well with your feed. Another tip for feeding supplements and medications is wetting the feed down in order to get the added ingredients to stick to it. Adding water will also reduce the smell of the supplements which some horses may be more averse to than the actual taste.
If water doesn’t do the trick, try adding up to a 1/2 cup of molasses or several spoonfuls of applesauce with your feed and supplements. Mix well.
If you don’t have time to wet down feed or add flavored ingredients at every meal time, you might want to invest in rounded feeders like this one, which prevent horses from pushing supplements off to the side. Your horse may very well accept his supplements when removing them with dexterous lips isn’t an option!
If your horse needs to gain weight and is picky about concentrates, try feeding more good quality grass hay or adding some alfalfa into his diet. You can also add rice bran for added fat.
Like people, some horses simply don’t like every type of food placed in front of them. If your horse isn’t interested in eating a certain type of feed, try something else. (Just remember to change feeds slowly, over a period of 7-10 days to avoid digestive upset.)
If you have further tips for feeding the picky eater, feel free to share in the comments!
Casie Bazay is a freelance and young adult writer, as well as an owner/barefoot trimmer and certified equine acupressure practitioner. She hosts the blog, The Naturally Healthy Horse, where she regularly shares information on barefoot, equine nutrition, and holistic horse health. Once an avid barrel racer, Casie now enjoys just giving back to the horses who have given her so much. Follow Casie at www.casiebazay.com.