Ask an Expert

Proper Feeding Position for Horses

Find out whether it's OK to let your horse eat off the ground.

Journal photo.

Question:


I'm new at owning horses, and I'm worried about my horses eating off the ground when their feed falls or they knock their feeders around. I was told to give a tablespoon of fiber (Metamucil), because my horse has lost weight and I can see his ribs.

--Tracie

Answer:


We generally recommend that horses not be fed on the ground because it allows them access to internal parasite eggs and, if the soil is very sandy, it could allow them to eat sand and perhaps develop sand colic. I personally prefer that horses eat with their heads in a normal down position, so I like to see them fed in tubs at ground level rather than elevated buckets. I don't know what part of the country you live in, but the recommendation to provide him with a tablespoon of fiber or Metamucil is probably aimed at preventing sand colic. Metamucil is effective, but must be fed in a much greater amount than one tablespoon a day. Horses that develop sand colic generally are thin and experience chronic diarrhea, but there are many more reasons for a horse to be thin than sand in the intestinal tract. The most-common cause of weight loss is not enough feed. My recommendation is to ask your veterinarian to examine your horses and give you advice on your specific situation. Your vet will check your horse's teeth, advise you on the type and amount of feed to provide as well as where and how to feed it.


-- Dr. Tom R. Lenz of AQHA Corporate Partner Zoetis.

For more advice from Dr. Lenz, check out AQHA's popular "Your Horse's Health" DVD.

*AQHA and the provider of this information are not liable for the inherent risks of equine activities. We always recommend consulting a qualified veterinarian and/or an AQHA Professional Horseman.