While the saying may be “Eat like a horse,” let’s face it, not all horses are blessed with voracious appetites. Some horses are notoriously picky eaters and need to be encouraged to eat their daily rations. For these horses, mealtime can take a bit more advanced planning in order to ensure success. Keep reading to learn a few tips about how to increase a horse’s appetite and get them to eat more.
Trial and Error
Every horse is an individual and has their own unique tastes. One way to get a horse to eat is to experiment to see what taste profile your horse prefers. Some horses are drawn to sweet textured concentrate feeds, while others prefer plainer pelleted options. Molasses is another popular additive to encourage consumption. Some horses prefer the taste of honey. Try giving your horse small portions to see what they gravitate toward.
Mix It Up
In addition to trying different types of concentrates, you may want to experiment with various forage options. Many horses like the combination of their forage mixed with their grain, perhaps because of the different textures. Chopped hay for horses mixes easily with the horses’ grain rations, and it also helps to improve digestion.
You may want to try adding delicious morsels to your horse’s feed. As they slowly munch and discover the treasures, they will most likely continue eating in an attempt to find more. Try adding chopped-up apples, carrots, and bananas or top-dressing their dinner with applesauce and/or peppermints. These all add a bit of excitement to dinner time.
If you’re still having trouble getting a horse to eat, it is important to select the most calorie-dense food options available. This means that they are hopefully intaking enough to maintain their body weight, even if they are eating in decreased amounts. Alfalfa hay is an excellent way to help keep weight on your horse—and many equestrians find that horses love the taste as well!
This is meant solely as a guide. If your horse stops eating, it is essential to contact your veterinarian immediately. This can be a sign of poor dentition, colic, ulcers, or another health issue.