Horses are very intelligent animals and naturally like to be outside in large areas, so if they are locked up for too long, they can develop bad habits due to boredom or depression. A common habit that horses develop to relieve boredom and depression is to chew on other wood in their sheds or enclosures.
Not only can chewing damage the wood, it can also cause problems for the horse, such as causing excessive wear on the front teeth and pieces that can get stuck in the mouth or be swallowed.
There are some medical issues, such as vitamin deficiencies, that can force a horse to chew wood. But most of the time, a horse that is chewing wood is a boring horse.
Why do horses chew wood?
Horses chew wood for several reasons. It is worth noting that wood chewing is not usually observed in wild horses, so this behavior is often caused by placing the horse in an unnatural environment.
Horses are kept in stables or paddocks, isolated from other horses, or fed mostly concentrates and not enough feed for them to chew for long periods of time, which can get bored and chew the fence to do something.
Sometimes, a lack of vitamins can cause horses to develop Pica– A taste for eating non-edible substances to alleviate defects.It’s not common, but pica can indicate a serious underlying nutritional or hormonal problem.
Some horses may have learned to gnaw wood from stables or ranch mates. Like naughty kids, they’ll try what other kids are trying, even if they never thought of it themselves — and the habit will continue. It’s a little trickier when it comes to training horses to get rid of wood-chewing behavior, as you may need to involve more than one horse.
Crib horses are also hard on wood (and other surfaces). However, it’s not really wood chewing.
crib is officially called aerophagiais an obsessive-compulsive disorder (again, only found in domesticated horses) in which the horse sinks its incisors into an upright object like a fence, then pulls the object as it inhales and arches its neck.The horse doesn’t actually chew the wood, as it doesn’t break or swallow any debris; it’s more like leaning on the water to force a breath of air.
How to stop chewing wood
Once your veterinarian has ruled out any medical or nutritional issues, you can begin addressing the behavior that is causing your horse to chew wood.
keep your horse outdoors
Horses kept indoors are more likely to develop habits that reduce their boredom and frustration. Outdoors, some horses may get bored because once they have eaten all the hay, they may not have much to do. Horses in the wild spend most of their time grazing.
Allowing the horse to live as naturally as possible with other horses and having plenty of grass or hay to graze on outdoors can help prevent wood chewing. But there are times when outdoor activities are not possible, such as when the horse is injured and needs to rest, if there is no space or resources for an all-day poll, or conditions such as icy pastures are dangerous for the horse to be outside.
Treat or protect wood surfaces
Optionally apply a bitter-tasting spray, paste, or cleaner to the wood surface. The downside to this product is that they get washed away in the rain, and some horses don’t seem to notice the smell. Also, make sure the substances you apply to the wood are non-toxic.
You can nail metal caps to fence rails and posts, wrap trees protectively, or use plastic mesh. A string of electric fences on the top rail of the fence will usually hold back determined chewers, you can try setting up small fences around the tree to keep your horses from getting close enough to chew.
socialize your horse
In addition to more outdoor activities, socializing your horse with other horses may help relieve some of its boredom. But don’t pair two horses that both chew wood, and be aware that wood chewers don’t end up badly affecting their non-chewing stables.
give your horse a toy
You may also want to provide your horse with a toy to play with to distract it from the wood surface, such as a large rubber ball.
Check your horse’s diet
Discuss this with your veterinarian first, but there is some evidence that horses are less likely to chew wood or engage in cribs when the amount of grains in their diet is reduced.Also make sure to provide your horse with as much roughage as possible to satisfy the horse’s natural herding instincts.
Finding the right chewing wood solution can save you money and ensure your horse’s health.
If you suspect your pet is sick, call your veterinarian right away. For health-related questions, be sure to consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know your pet’s health history, and can give your pet the best advice.