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.