Do you have a wood chewing horse in your life? My life does. She chews from time to time and I notice some of the horses around her do the same. They are nibbling at the posts and boards that surround them.
This is different from cribbing. I wrote in a previous article about cribbing/wind sucking. You can read it here.
Winter seems to especially be a boring, stressful season for the horse. I know it is for me. If there is a lot of snow and ice it’s hard for them to be out in the pasture. There is danger of slipping. If they can paw through the snow that gives them something to occupy themselves with, but there may not be much nutritional value in it.
If the problem comes from boredom it can be helped by working extra with him, teach some new tricks, some extra riding and lunging could help too.
Some of the problem could come from not getting enough of certain nutrients. A horse needs salt as well as minerals. I put a salt block and a mineral block where my horse has easy access.
If a horse is stressed the owner should find out why. There could be several reasons.
Maybe the horse doesn’t like being hauled. An injury could cause stress as well as being picked on by other horses.
The habit can lead to some health issues as well. Imagine the pieces of wood lodging in throat and stomach. Doesn’t sound good to me.
Breaking the Habit:
There are ways to help relieve this bad habit. There are sprays or solutions to paint on the fence posts and rails that tastes horrible so it will deter the horse from chewing.
I’ve read that a horse, due to extreme boredom or stress will eat right through the awful taste anyway.
Some ranchers nail wire around trees to keep them from being eaten. At the boarding place where I keep my horse there is rebar attached to the top of the boards of the pens.
My horse ate out of a wooden apple bin, but she nearly chewed the whole thing to pieces till another person who boards there fixed that by nailing metal around the edges. That was a nice idea and solved the problem. I was very grateful for the thought and help.
I talked about toys for horses also in another blog on this site, you can read here. Toys, such as ones that can be attached to the side of a stall give the horse something to bat and nose around with and helps give him something else to think about.
Wood chewing is something that should be addressed and alleviated as much as possible. It’s a health hazard. There are some habits that can be good, but eating splinters is not on the horses diet.
It’s important to do what we can to persuade our horses to eat right and stay away from a bad practice. Looking at the why’s and such will go a long way to being able to solve the problem and make your horse happier.
The above suggestions are what I’ve been able to find out. Do you have any thoughts on wood chewing? Let me know.
Thanks for stopping by my hitching post. Please leave a comment or ask a question. I’ll do my best to answer.