Thursday, July 17, 2008

How do you stop a horse from bolting their feed?

"Bolting" of feed means the horse is eating their grain much too fast. Bolting increases the chance that the feed won't be properly chewed and digested, (which can mean the horse won't be getting all of the nutrients from their feed) and it's unnerving and frustrating because of the danger that it may cause choking or colic.

There are many different reasons why a horse may bolt their feed. The most common reason is competition with barn or pasture mates (or a horse that has had to compete for their feed in the past). Help your horse relax by making sure they don't have to fight to eat and that they're not stealing one anothers' food. Separate horses at feeding time and make sure each one has their own feeding dish.

If you've done that and they're still eating too fast, there are several other things you can do to make them slow down and enjoy their feed a little longer:
  1. Place a few smooth stones in their feed dish so they have to nudge around the stones to get the grain (Make sure the stones don't have any sharp or pointed edges that the horse will poke themselves with and that the stones are large enough so the horse doesn't pick them up in their mouth. Remember that you want eating to be a pleasurable experience for the horse and the object is just to slow the horse down by making them nudge around the stones to get to the grain, not to make them put the stones in their mouth). If done correctly, this is a very safe and effective technique.
  2. In a solid feed rack, (not a slatted one) scatter the grain on top of their hay ration;
  3. Put their grain in a deep feeding dish and then cover with chaff or hayledge (a finely chopped hay product) or some hay cubes.
Using any one of these techniques is a minor change in your feeding routine and your horse will be healthier (and safer) because of it!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have tried all of these, and none of them work. She pushes the hay or rocks out of the bucket and then bolts her food. Do you have any other suggestions?

Please feel free to email me your horse questions and I'll do my best to answer them or at least point you to someone or someplace that can. (Scroll down to the "About Me" section and click on "View my complete profile" to send me an email) I look forward to hearing from you! ~Melanie