Horse refuses to eat in stall during grain feeding
Apollo is really starting to drive me friggin NUTS! He absolutely REFUSES to eat his grain if I am not there in the barn sometimes. I have to be right by his stall watching him or else he paces in his stall, sticks his head over the door, and makes faces, wanting to go outside. He is wasting his food! He really needs to eat his grain! I have worked SO hard to rehab this horse but him not wanting to eat is NOT helping! He eats just fine if I am right there. I don't think its health related at all. It seems behavioral. I will leave him and Harley in the barn while they eat and I can go out TWO HOURS LATER and Apollo still hasn't finished his grain and is begging to go out. I would just like to tie him to his food bowl!!! Any suggestions?
Apparently, even though you seem to feel that he really needs his grain, Apollo doesn't agree. If he doesn't eat it, let him go without.
How much are you giving him and why?
Can he eat it outside somewhere maybe?
Well, if he can't eat it outside, I have another idea:
Put the grain in his bucket. Let him eat while you are there, but walk all around him, all around the stall -- go where you don't normally go - as far away as you can without leaving the stall. Do the same thing tomorrow, but open the stall door. Try to spend time standing at the stall door while he is eating. Basically, gradually teaching him that it's alright and safe for him to eat without you being RIGHT THERE. Then step outside the door and watch him. Then walk away and come back... get the idea?
Just make sure he is eating before you start wandering around and don't rush right back to him when/if he stops eating. Find his comfort zone for that day and move just outside of it.
Is he OK in his stall any other time? Sounds like its the stall he has a problem with, not the food.
Makes sense, yes. He hates being in his stall. He is a fresh off the track STB who raced 5 days before I got him. He was really thin and has DDSP that was never checked when he was racing. he should have probably retired way earlier than he did. He is a nervous boy.
It sounds like he is not comfortable enough in his stall to relax and eat.
What is your routine and can you change it up? My horse dropped a lot of weight in a barn where the horses were kept outside all the time except for being brought in for an hour to eat. She was not comfortable in the barn at all, and was anxious about the big rush when the handlers would let all the horses back out again.
Another routine that often does not work for anxious horses is to feed the grain in the morning before going out because they are anticipating going outside.
There are a bunch of different ways to make it work, depending on your situation. If your horse is outside all the time, is there a way to fence of a smaller area or pen where your horse can be separated from the others while eating grain but yet see the other horses and not get anxious? Then you could leave him separated for a few hours or overnight in order to give him plenty of time to eat.
What worked for my horse was to be fed all her grain at night and to be left in with a good buddy in a stall nearby so they could relax together. Some hard keepers need a substantial amount of time separated from other horses where they can relax and eat. But it won't do any good just to put him in the barn to eat if he is fearful of being inside.
Why can't he be fed outside?
Quit worrying about this. If he doesn't eat one meal, he is not going to drop dead.
Put feed in. If he hasn't eaten by time you need to turn out, turn him out anyway.
He will decide to eat, trust me.
Make sure he has water in his stall. Put his feed in there.
Leave. If he's hungry he will eat.
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