Horse eating saplings - is he 'starving' or just bored?? - The Horse Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 8 Old 02-20-2010, 06:13 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Virginia
Posts: 56
• Horses: 2
Horse eating saplings - is he 'starving' or just bored??

I'm not sure if this is the right place for this... but, I have a 17 year-old Saddlebred gelding that I rescued a year ago. He has put on a lot of weight since then (the vet rated him at a 2 when I got him) and I feel like he is at a good, healthy weight - he has filled out, can't feel ribs... still could use 'weight' on his topline, but I'm sure that muscle will come with work. His neck actually, well, 'jiggles'.

Anyway, this winter he has taken to pushing the fence to try to eat anything along the outside - saplings, the forsithia (sp?), poison ivy. We've had some bad storms which kept me from being able to have the fence turned on. Now, I've got the fence on and he was nibbling on the white pines in the pasture! Is he really that hungry or is he just bored?? Or, is it some sort of behavior caused by being starved before I got him - like he thinks every meal is his last?

He gets fed twice a day - 3lbs of grain, ~15lbs of hay (alfalfa/timothy/grass) each feeding. Is this not enough??
Tink is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 8 Old 02-20-2010, 07:13 PM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Somewhere, over the rainbow
Posts: 110
• Horses: 0

If you can't feel his ribs anymore, and when you put your hands under the winter coat he feels like he has some fat on him, then it is not a problem with how many calories he is getting.

If he is by himself, he may be bored. With another horse he may still be bored if he is not getting much riding or attention.

It may also be that he needs fiber more than twice per day. If he has stomach acid when he doesn't have any fiber to chew, me may chew on other things. Try a small mesh hay net or slow feeder to make the hay last longer, and entertain him longer during the day.

Slow Feeding Horses on Paddock Paradise Tracks - Paddock Paradise Wiki try the slow feeder or small mesh hay net pages.
EPMhorse is offline  
post #3 of 8 Old 02-21-2010, 06:11 AM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Orange County, NC
Posts: 6,224
• Horses: 5
Originally Posted by Tink View Post
Is he really that hungry or is he just bored?? Or, is it some sort of behavior caused by being starved before I got him - like he thinks every meal is his last?
Probably none of the above. Some trees just taste good, especially this time of year when spring is coming, the sap will be flowing, and it's a change from just eating hay all winter. Many folks see a similar behavior in the fall with their horses liking to eat acorns.

On the sixth day, God created the Quarter Horse.
On the seventh day, he Painted the good ones.
PaintHorseMares is offline  
post #4 of 8 Old 02-21-2010, 09:45 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Virginia
Posts: 56
• Horses: 2
He does have a pasture pal, but unfortunately due to the weather hasn't been ridden in forever. He'll be out nibbling on saplings, while his pasture pal is napping in the sun.

Thanks for the link, EPMhorse....

I'm wondering if I should also try 'stall' toys... like that Jolly Stall Snack System. He doesn't have a stall since we have a run-in, but I could put one up in the run-in.
Tink is offline  
post #5 of 8 Old 02-22-2010, 05:29 PM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 1,527
• Horses: 1
Painthorsemares, is right. This time of the year is maple syrup time, all the sap is sweet. My horses tear the trees apart now.

White Foot is offline  
post #6 of 8 Old 02-22-2010, 06:29 PM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Ontario
Posts: 6,166
• Horses: 5
I have always seen horses chew on trees. We used to drag poplars (aspen) from the bush for them actually. I figure there is something in there that they need and don't discourage it.
NorthernMama is offline  
post #7 of 8 Old 03-11-2010, 11:06 PM
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 46
• Horses: 4
HI - I went to a nutrition seminar and she indicated that you need to feed the topline with minerals and vit- that calories alone will not do it (you can have fat on other parts of the horse and no topline if not feeding correctly- working it will not put on a topline if there is none to start with)- she was from buckeye and was very helpful - ( i know to watch the sales pitch but she knew her stuff). I also read that horses that eat fences trees etc are often def in minerals such as copper , zinc , bunch of others. I never really thought about it as I thought I fed my horses well (great hay and a salt mineral lick the blue or brown one - now use a better mineral lick) and they were eating the small trees like crazy. We have a sulphur smell to our well water (only can tell if the water is not turned on for a long time) so I guess sulphur is there ( not in the house though) - sulphur hinders copper use in the horse. I started giving the gro and win from buckey and they stopped. I am not saying that is what your horses have but it makes sense. I started out by wondering why my black turned a bit rusty red - copper deficiency -then kept finding out more and more. Maybe this will help.
rockaway is offline  
post #8 of 8 Old 03-17-2010, 11:23 AM
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Ashland, OR
Posts: 8,429
• Horses: 1
Jester does this as well. He wringed all our oak trees ansd then proceeded to everything else. >.<

I have been told that the "tree-taste" is sort of addicting, just like drugs to us, that once they try it then they want to keep coming. And they're just bored.

Try spraying the saplings with that pepper-spray stuff to stop cribbing. I don't know what it will do to the poor tree, but at least it should stop the chewing.

Pssh.I didn't pick up the wrong lead
It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.
SorrelHorse is online now  

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Poor starving Max G and K's Mom Horse Pictures 16 12-08-2009 04:16 PM
My horse is bored! Tawny Western Riding 4 09-25-2009 02:26 PM
Horses are starving?? CopperHorse Horse Health 30 07-22-2009 09:17 AM
Bored Horse Fisher.Cat. Jumping 5 06-18-2009 10:56 AM
Bored Horse whitetrashwarmblood Horse Training 6 06-03-2009 07:55 PM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome