Some horses are fussy eaters and it can be difficult to find ways to get them to eat enough food. Some individuals don’t eat enough if they are confined (rather than out on pasture) and it’s hard to keep weight on them. This is a common and often challenging problem, especially in hard-working performance horses that need a high level of nutrition, according to Bill Vandergrift, PhD (an equine nutritionist who works with several feed companies, including Triple Crown).
“In my experience—looking at palatability of feeds and why horses become finiky—there is usually some reason. Usually the horse is already on a good diet and historically has been eating well, and then all of a sudden is not eating as much or doesn’t want to eat a new feed, especially if the owner, manager or trainer decides to add an additional supplement to the feed. The horse may be taking longer to eat or not cleaning up the feed,” he says.
“Any time we run into this problem, the first thing that we think of is some type of GI tract inflammation. This could include gastric ulcers, hindgut ulcers/inflammation,or small intestine inflammation. All three of these situations need to be treated a bit differently.”
So when a horse goes off feed or eats less enthusiastically, a person needs to find out if there’s a physical reason, and what it might be.