Feeding a finicky horse

Cerise, my Fire horse, is a very finicky eater and she is even more so when I take her away from home. Last weekend I took her to a 4 day clinic and she ate almost nothing for the first 3 days. She even turned her nose up at alfalfa. I was not too worried because her energy was good and she was drinking. It was really cold Friday night and Saturday and I did have to put a blanket on her because she was not eating enough hay to keep herself warm.

Saturday morning I started giving her 10cc of KLPP  and 1 tsp of blue green algae. I gave this mix to her 4 times on Sat and that was about all the nutrition she got. On Sunday I continued to give the KLPP and algae and Cerise started to nibble at her alfalfa. By Sunday night she was eating a little grass hay as well as some alfalfa. Over the day I suspect she ate less than 1 flake total. Monday morning I continued the KLPP/algae mix and she ate a few bites of her grain and Monday night after the clinic was over she ate more but not all her grain.

Cerise did drop her weight but not near as much as I would have expected considering how hard she worked and how little she ate. Her attitude was great and she did not appear to have any colic or ulcer symptoms. I feel the KLPP and algae supplied her nutrition needs for the short term and helped her digestion so that she could adjust to the new environment. If we had stayed a few more days I think Cerise would have settled in and started eating her regular food.

Feeding a finicky horse like Cerise can be a real challenge. Even at home she gets bored with her feed and will stop eating. It does not help that she has tested allergic to wheat so I am limited in what foods I can give her. I don’t want to give her much grain because she already has plenty of energy. I have been giving her a small amount of chaffhaye which she likes if I don’t give her too much. The chaffhaye has a strong taste and Cerise is really funny about new flavors in her food. Since getting home from the clinic I have been adding a handful of bird food to her chaffhaye and low starch feed. The bird food is mostly millet with some corn and sun flower seeds. I was looking at her one day and decided if she was going to eat like a bird maybe she would like bird food. Really scientific, right. Anyway she is scarfing if up with her other food and putting her weight back on quickly.

Feeding a finicky horse treats such as carrots or healthy cookies can also stimulate their appetites. Cerise devoured her nicker makers during the clinic but I only had 1 tub of them to divide between 3 horses so she had to share. With Cerise much of her finicky habits have to do with her overall life preferences. She has learned that if she does not eat I will pay more attention to her. Feeding a horse that is not eating for physical health reasons can be even more challenging because not only do you have to get them to eat but you have to make sure they are eating feeds that won’t make their health condition worse.

For any horse that is a finicky eater you can’t go wrong focusing on supporting the digestion with prebiotic products like KLPP or Probi. If you suspect ulcers, look also at stomach soother, aloe/slippery elm, Succeed or green clay. If a horse suddenly becomes a finicky eater then check the teeth or look for other painful conditions in the mouth. Some horses like Cerise are finicky for emotional reasons and others for physical reasons. Some others can have mental and physical reasons that you will have to sort out. Madalyn

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