Wood chewing - how to prevent it? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 08-22-2009, 07:38 AM Thread Starter
Green Broke
Join Date: Nov 2008
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Question Wood chewing - how to prevent it?

My horse has always had this habit when turned out in the indoor arena (the walls are surrounded by wood guards all the way around in there), but whenever I saw her do it I would tell her NO! and smack her neck (or butt or whatever was closest to let her know she's not to be doing that lol) But it never translated to her stall thank goodness.

BUT she just switched to a new stall, and she chewed the HECK out of the wood the third night she was in there!!! So I need some advice from the forum...

1. Is there a cause behind a horse chewing wood, and what is it? Is she lacking a mineral or something that I may need to supplement? (she does have a mineral block just FYI in case you're wondering and she does eat it a lot)

2. Besides fixing the issue causing the wood chewing, how do I prevent her from destroying her stall in the meantime? Would hot sauce on the wood work to deter her from chewing it? She has toys and a Lik-It in her stall but I guess the wood tastes better or something LOL

"The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand, is when I carried you..."
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post #2 of 7 Old 08-22-2009, 08:46 AM
Join Date: Jul 2009
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they sell stuff in the tack store called "no chew" i think. you can try that. you just spray it on the wood.

we just took vinegar, and a whole bunch of different hot dry pepper seasonings and mixed them and sprayed that all over the barn. she hasnt touched it since.
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post #3 of 7 Old 08-22-2009, 09:26 AM
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Using a deterant is like using oragel on a toothache. It mutes the issue, but it doesn't fix the problem.

How much hay is your horse getting? Growing up around horses, I was always taught that wood chewing is a natural way for horses to get roughage into their stomaches when they are lack there of. If your horse is not getting their daily required intake of fibre, they are going to find it elsewhere.

If it was boredom, your mare would go for the stall toys, not chew wood.

I found a Veterinarians article on how much dietary fibre our horses should be getting:


As they rely on it for digestive health and energy production, horses have an absolute need for dietary fiber (“roughage”). The rock-bottom
minimum amount of roughage needed per day is 1% of the horse’s body weight, calculated on a dry matter basis (i.e. taking into account the water content of the food).

Well-made and properly stored hay is less than 10% water, so to keep the
mathematics simple, let’s say it is close enough to 100% dry matter. That means the daily
minimum fiber requirement, if the horse consumes little or no pasture, is 10 lbs of hay per day for a 1000-lb horse (1% of 1000 is 10).

That’s just to meet the horse’s minimum fiber requirements; calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals will very likely be lacking at this level. Most horses are
much healthier and happier when fed good quality roughage at a rate of 1.5% to 3% of body weight per day (15–30 lbs of hay, if pasture is limited).

Depending on the time of year, the water content of pasture grasses can be over 70% (i.e. less than 30% dry matter, including dietary fiber). In the spring and sometimes in the autumn, when the grass is lush and rapidly growing, a horse on full pasture turnout may not be able to meet his minimum daily requirement for dietary fiber from pasture alone, even when there is plenty of

At these times, horses on pasture often benefit from supplemental hay to meet their daily fiber needs.

MIEventer is offline  
post #4 of 7 Old 08-22-2009, 12:03 PM
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Yes you could buy the 'no chew' products and give that a try, but like MIEventer said it's usually rooted in something greater. How often is she turned out? Does she have toys to play with in her stall?

I had a mare who cribbed like there was no tomorrow. She was a retired show horse who had been in a stall for the majority of her life. She was just bored out of her mind, thus developing the habit. Nothing could stop this mare, not a cribbing collar, not metal strips, not electric wiring on the wood fence (she'd just use a post that didn't have wiring on it). Let's just say if there is a will to chew or crib, the horse will find a way. So you need to properly diagnose what the issue is.

I'd start out with some toys and try to get her turned out as often as possible to cut down on the boredom factor. If the problem persists then I'd say you've got a nutrition issue.

Here is a little article I found:

Wood chewing can be traced down to two primary causes:

A mineral deficiency

To solve the first possible cause it's advisable that you provide suitable quantities of feed and roughage (hay). In addition if your horse is stabled often or cannot go out to pasture for most of the day, consider adding a salt or mineral lick in his stall. Not only will this help ensure your horse takes in the necessary salts and minerals, it will provide him some entertainment for those times where there is no hay available.
The solution to boredom is about the same as it is for potential mineral deficiencies. A happy horse is a horse that can eat throughout the day since unlike humans they weren't built to thrive on three large meals. Horses have small stomachs for their size, and as such they are grazing animals that prefer eating many smaller meals many times throughout the day. Salt licks and toys can also alleviate a horse's boredom when there is no hay to be had.

Wood chewing is detrimental to your horse because it can cause splinters to become imbedded between his teeth or in his gums, but even worse splinters can get swallowed and cause havoc within his stomach and intestines, potentially leading to an increased chance of colic.

If you notice that your horse has picked up this vice you can try the following remedies:

First make sure that your horse isn't chewing for a nutritional or food need. They should have plenty of roughage (hay or grass) in their diet, but if their current diet seems to be lacking you can also consider vitamin or mineral supplements to be mixed with their pellets or sweet feed. Salt licks are perfect because they serve as both a supplement and a source of distraction/entertainment.

Provide Toys And Distractions

Boredom is a primary cause for vices, so if your horse did not contain a few toys such as a Jolly Apple in his stall consider adding some. Often these distractions will keep your horse's idle mind busy, thereby stopping the urge to chew wood.

Metal Strips

Since wood chewing is not the same as cribbing, metal strips along the wooden edges of doors and stall windows will stop a horse from chewing.

Electric Fencing

If your horse is chewing on a fence in the paddock or field just add some electric fencing along the top. This will prevent your horse from chewing on those surfaces.
Chew Stop And Related Products
Chew Stop (and similar products) are non-toxic sprays and paints that can be applied to wood, thereby giving the wood a foul taste and scent that will turn off horses. These sprays must be re-applied approximately once a month inside the stable and once every two to three weeks outdoors depending on the harshness of the elements. Chew Stop has the advantage of being usable on awkward portions of wood that can't be protected with an electric fence or metal strips (i.e., a tree).
Horse wood chewing is not a terribly worrisome vice, but it is important that you take steps to cure it immediately when you detect it. Also ensure your horse is indeed a wood chewer and not a cribber, because cribbing is an entirely different problem that is far more difficult to combat.


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post #5 of 7 Old 08-22-2009, 05:25 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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Thanks everyone! To answer some of the questions coming up...

Sandie is turned out every day from about 7am after her breakfast until 3pm to come in for her dinner. The pastures have SOME grass but are by no means lush...but the BO throws a TON of hay out in the pastures each day for the horses to eat so they are NEVER standing around not grazing.

When they come in, they each have a mountain of hay in their stalls to eat right away along with their grain, so I'm not sure it's that she isn't getting enough to eat....although perhaps the fiber intake is just not high enough? Is there such thing as a fiber supplement for horses??

She has a mineral block in her stall and definitely eats it. She also has toys -- empty milk jugs hanging on strings with treats in them, a Lik-It, and a jolly ball too. So I don't think she's bored...esp since she's out all day, then I come ride her after her dinner, so she's only really in her stall at night to sleep.

I put hot sauce all over where she has been chewing today to hopefully stop her from doing any more harm to the barn and to herself, but I need to get to the bottom of what is the root of the problem and take steps to fix it before I have a cribber on my hands too!!!

"The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand, is when I carried you..."
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post #6 of 7 Old 08-22-2009, 09:26 PM
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Quitt may help.. it helps wood chewing by giving extra nutrients. Though, it doesn't help with every horse.. it may be worth a try.
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post #7 of 7 Old 08-22-2009, 10:16 PM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Ontario
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I notice that my horses currently, and in the past, have chewed because of something upsetting to them.

3 out of 5 of my last horses came to me as chewers -- they were all from the track and my place was totally out of there safe zone.

Currently, if I am paying attention to one horse, the other will chew until I scold her. If Lisa in in one part of the paddock and ignoring Jade, Jade will chew on the barn.

I have done detergent with chili pepper and water; I put it in a detergent bottle and just slopped it all over the wood in the barn. But, MIE is right -- that's not a solution, just a bandaid and any of these products will wear off eventually anyway. Besides, who can paint their entire barn in the stuff?
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