Study: Horses Chew Efficiently, Combat ‘Dust and Grit’

These findings help us better understand how and why horses’ teeth wear as they do, researchers said.

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how horses chew
Horses have to deal with more grit and dust in feed, which wears away at their teeth, than ruminants do, researchers said. | Photo: iStock

Don’t scarf down your food, Rusty. It’s not like you’re a cow and get to chew it a second time.

Fortunately, that’s not something we have to tell most horses. Recent study results show that horses are very efficient chewers with a rhythmic chewing pattern similar to that of cows.

Cows, camels, and many other herbivores are ruminants—meaning they chew food, swallow it, and then return the parts that still require chewing back to the mouth for further chewing and swallowing. Horses belong to a group of herbivore species that don’t do this. They chew, swallow, digest, and that’s it

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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