Tips for Feeding Horses That are Messy Eaters

Does your horse fling food all over his stall during meal time? Our nutrition expert shares some tips you can try to keep your horse’s enthusiastic eating behaviors from wasting feed.

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feeding messy eaters
If a horse eventually decides to eat feed knocked out of the bucket, he could consume sand or other debris if the stall has a dirt floor or is bedded with shavings. | Photo: Erica Larson/The Horse

Q.My horse is a messy eater who’s always looking around between bites and dropping his feed on the ground during meal time. What suggestions do you have to prevent waste and ensure he gets all the feed he needs?

—Via e-mail

A.When we spend our hard-earned money on feed for our horses the last thing we want is for them to waste it by dropping it all over the ground! This can be a frustrating habit. Just this week I watched a mare at our trainer’s barn merrily toss her hay pellets out of her bucket. Evidently, she used to get grain she found more enticing, and she attacks her hay pellets in the vain hope that she’ll find the better tasting grain at the bottom of the bucket

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Written by:

Clair Thunes, PhD, is an equine nutritionist who owns Clarity Equine Nutrition, based in Gilbert, Arizona. She works as a consultant with owners/trainers and veterinarians across the United States and globally to take the guesswork out of feeding horses and provides services to select companies. As a nutritionist she works with all equids, from WEG competitors to Miniature donkeys and everything in between. Born in England, she earned her undergraduate degree at Edinburgh University, in Scotland, and her master’s and doctorate in nutrition at the University of California, Davis. Growing up, she competed in a wide array of disciplines and was an active member of the U.K. Pony Club. Today, she serves as the district commissioner for the Salt River Pony Club.

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