Need some encouragement?
If your horse is a fussy eater and you have eliminated any potentially harmful reasons behind this, there are various ways that you can tempt them to eat up!
As flight animals, horses are prone to ‘neophobia’- the fear of anything new or different! This means if you suddenly add in a strong smelling food or supplement to their feed bowl, they may be put off eating their meal. You can reduce the risk of this by introducing any new supplements and feeds very gradually, starting out with just a pinch, and slowly increasing to recommended feeding levels over the course of 5-7 days.
If you haven’t added anything new to the feed, but have increased the amount fed due to lack of grass or a higher work load, you may find that your horse is not finishing off their meals. In this case, splitting the daily feed rations into a number of smaller feeds per day can be very beneficial.
If your horse is still not wanting to eat, adding an appetising flavour to the food may encourage them to tuck in. Traditionally molasses would have been added, and for some horses this is a suitable method of encouragement, however, many horses and ponies now require a low-sugar diet, making this an inappropriate addition to the feed. Addition of Mint to the feed can be a good alternative, or Fenugreek, a curry spice which has been shown to be a preferred flavour for many horses. Adding apple juice to the feed may also tempt some horse’s appetites. An imbalance of B-vitamins can also contribute to a lack of appetite, so feeding Brewer’s Yeast, which is rich in these may help your horse or pony eat. Micronised Linseed is also very appetising to horses, and is particularly useful as a safe source of energy if your horse is lacking in condition.
If it all goes wrong, and you have tried all the tips and appetisers above and your horse is still refusing to eat, often the best thing to do is to cut back to basics- remove all supplements and feeds and add them in very gradually one at a time. If this is done most horses will then start eating again. It is also a good way to highlight if there is a particular product that your horse is very adverse to. In this instance please call one of our nutritional advisers, who will be able to recommend an alternative product that your horse may be a bigger fan of!
Olivia Colton MSc
Nutritional and Technical Coordinator