Can Horses Be Carnivorous? (Book Excerpt)

My horse has become carnivorous! She eats roadkill such as dead birds, and now I’ve discovered her stomping on a live rabbit in her stable. She picked it up in her mouth, bashed it against the stable wall, and ate it.

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Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Understanding Your Horse’s Behavior by author and equine behavior specialist Sue McDonnell, PhD, Certified AAB. 

While taking questions from the audience at a one-day behavior program in New Zealand this May, a well-respected horse owner and trainer described behavior she had recently witnessed in a horse involving a scenario I had never heard or thought about. None of the 200 or so horse owners in the audience had either. Then within a month, The Horse magazine received two e-mails about the same peculiar behavior. Again, none of the staff there had heard of such behavior in horses, and they referred the questions to me.

At a recent international meeting of horse behaviorists, I asked around about this behavior. While most people had heard of or seen certain aspects of the behavior, no one had experience or knowledge from the literature of the more disturbing elements.

So, let’s go interactive on this one. Below we will simply print the three scenarios and questions. Let us know what you think and any experiences you’ve had, and I’ll continue canvassing horse behaviorists and veterinarians around the world. We’ll coordinate all of the responses and report back to you in a future issue

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Written by:

Sue M. McDonnell, PhD, is a certified applied animal behaviorist and the founding head of the equine behavior program at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. She is also the author of numerous books and articles about horse behavior and management.

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