My horse is 'washing her grain'

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My horse is 'washing her grain'

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    06-25-2013, 11:30 AM
My horse is 'washing her grain'

Hi All -

My trainer has just advised me that she noticed my OTTB is washing her food. Here is what she said exactly:

It means that when she eats her grain, she grabs a mouthful of grain and then takes a sip of water. And back and forth and back and forth. In the scheme of things, it sounds harmless enough. Just messy. But there's actually a nutritional reason to stop that behavior. By taking in so much water while she's eating, she is actually pushing her food through her system faster than is natural. So that results in her not getting as much nutrition as she should be getting. In her case, she is carrying good weight and you would not suspect her of being a food washer. Many are very thin because their food just goes right through them. But going forward, if this habit is not interrupted, it could start to have a bigger impact and who knows, she may need more food than normal even now to even hold the weight she has.
So my recommendation is to make sure her water buckets are nowhere near her grain tub in her stall. Make sure she has to take at least a few steps to get from her food to her water. That's usually all it takes to stop this behavior. In extreme cases, the water has to be removed until they've consumed the grain, and then the water can be returned to the stall.

I have spent an hour googling every version I can think of and can't find anything on this. Has anyone else experienced this? My girl is 6 and hasn't raced in about 3 years, don't know if that matters or not.
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    06-25-2013, 11:34 AM
Yeah, never heard that before, and I doubt there's any real scientific basis to your trainer's claims. Water isn't going to 'flush away' the nutrients.
    06-25-2013, 11:43 AM
I have never heard of that theory before and have owned a few grain washers and hay washers as well. Neither required more food to maintain them because of this habit, it just meant I had to clean the water troughs all the darn time. If those horses were in a stall that I could have easily removed the water, I would have, just to save myself the labor.
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    06-25-2013, 11:46 AM
Green Broke
I have never heard of any harm coming from grain/hay washers. Sounds kind of silly to me. We have a few grain washers in our barn and even more hay washers and they are all fat and happy. The staff just curse them for the extra work lol.
    06-25-2013, 11:47 AM
I would put the water and food far apart, but for a different reason. It's natural for horses to move around as they eat and drink, so I place my water, hay bin, and grain in different corners to encourage more movement :) Plus, in your case, they might stay cleaner!
    06-25-2013, 12:06 PM
Green Broke
We have a few at the barn and I moved the food/water to opposite end of the stall as it reduced the behavior and how filthy the water got!

Other than filthy water.... it doesn't affect the horse any.
    06-25-2013, 12:13 PM
OK, thanks all. She is my first horse and I had never heard of this before, so I wanted to make sure this isn't a bigger problem. She is moving to my barn this weekend, so I will be making sure her buckets are at opposite ends and I constantly eye up her weight anyway since TB's run somewhat slender and my girl is dainty for her size. Loves to eat though.
    06-25-2013, 12:27 PM
My friend calls them "Dunkers" as in some of her horses dunk their hay in their water buckets. I think its quite funny to see, actually. All her horses are fat and happy :)
    06-25-2013, 12:39 PM
Green Broke
That's silly. WAIT A SECOND! If I drink a couple glasses of water with my meals, I will suddenly loose lots of weight?? We've discovered the ultimate weight loss secret!!
    06-25-2013, 12:42 PM
Super Moderator
An OTTB we had did this when we first got him but after being treated for ulcers he stopped doing it - may be just a coincidence.
In the past it was always taught that you should never allow a horse to drink large amounts of water directly after a feed as it could cause undigested food to wash through and this could cause colic. I don't know if there is any actual evidence to support this but a lot of people still hold to it
If the horse is just wetting his food down then likely not a problem other than really messy water buckets but maybe move the buckets away from the manger and try damping his feed down a lot more.

grain, losing, thin, washing, weight

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