Horse Feeding Myths and Misconceptions

Published on: 05/29/2015
Author/s : Lori K. Warren, Ph.D., P.A.S. (Provincial Horse Specialist) - Government of Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

Compared to other classes of livestock, there seems to be more myths and wives' tales when it comes to feeding horses. Many of these myths are long-held "traditions" that have been passed down unquestioned from horseman to horseman. Some myths are based on fear of causing harm to the horse. Other myths stem from lack of understanding of either the feed or how the horse may digest it. Over the past...

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mark rice mark rice
Specialist
May 29, 2015
Just rescued a 14 yr. old TB with a huge cribbiing problem and was told I would never be able to add weight to him primarily because his cribbing interferes with proper digestion and metabolism. First I had heard of this and was wondering if there is any truth to this comment. He certaintly has damage to his front teeth but seems to be eating just fine however, putting weight on him has been a problem. I have tried several feeding practices including hays and grain mix with not much success. He is UTD on all his shots and deworming any advice would be helpful. He is a great horse with a terrible vice that I hope I can break. Thanks
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May 29, 2015
Have a mare that has cribbed since birth... with no other horses in the barn that crib... she is now 18... never had a weight or any other problem. No collar... just let her be... she has been on a diet of Bermuda hay all the time, alfalfa pellets and renew gold. She is 17 hands and all I do is make sure she gets worked regularly!
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Peter Waller Peter Waller
B.App.Sc. (Animal Studies) Honors (Nutrition). DVM.
May 30, 2015
Hi Mark. Not having observed the horse at all, am just wondering how 'stressy' (reactive) this horse is in its daily life? I would possibly scope the horse for an ulcer - at this age and given the breed it will be highly likely to present with one.
I would also try and arrange a diet that is high in dietary vegetable oil (such as canola oil and soybean oil blended at 90:10% in the diet). At these given levels you will find the n-6: n-3 are in a prime ratio to trigger anti-inflammatory responses within the horse.
See how you go. I know what you are dealing with - it is an insidious habit.
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June 1, 2015
It is definitely an insidious problem and can occur in horses that are also allowed to graze pasture 24/7. I have a horse that I got out of a yearling sale that had been observed to windsuck and sure enough he does. At the present time he is turned out on pasture 24/7 with company, receives hay am and pm and a hard feed at night that is high in fibre and oil and keeps the grain under 2kg per feed. He is normally in paddocks that have electric fencing all round but the moment he can get at a post he goes straight back to windsucking. I do not have any problems with his weight and he is in good condition and health - it is a habit that he has learned when he has had a problem in the past perhaps in his sales preparation or earlier and even though there is no physical requirement for it now he still seems to default to the habit. From past experience it is not a habit that you can break - you just have to learn how to deal with it and more importantly make sure that horses don't get a chance to acquire the habit by making sure that their requirement to graze is fulfilled.
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