I have 2 rescue ponies. They were saved a year ago from a starvation situation. They are healthy, fat and sassy now but the gelding does a weird thing. As he eats his meals, he takes 3-4 nibbles out of his bowl then puts his head down and takes GIANT bites of shavings. He munches that up then goes back to his dish. They were almost dead when they were rescued, with slipper feet, body scales of 1.5, black teeth, lice, rain rot, internal parasites through the roof. I got them a month after the Rescue League of Boston and Tufts had started them beautifully on their roads to recovery but what is this habit? Does he still think he's starving? He isn't ;-) Is he missing some key element in his diet? He has free choice 2nd cut grass hay, 1/3 cup soaked alfalfa pellets 2 x day. He has a red salt block which he works on every day. I can only think something's missing...Ideas? Thanks
Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.
I will say though that the type of bedding can make a difference. My mare started eating her corn cob bedding when the barn swapped to that from pine. It was nuts. She was not (and never had been) starving but she ate that stuff like it was going out of style!
I wouldn't be too terribly worried.
A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.
If it's wood shavings, I'd really put a stop to that, either by feeding him somewhere there aren't shavings, or at least replacing the wood shavings with either straw or (my preference) Struefex pelleted straw bedding
But, too, he may still be in a mineral-deficient state, as unless your hay tested to be exceptional quality, he could well be missing things with what you're currently feeding him. Personally, right now, since it appears he doesn't need a whole lot of calories beyond forage, I'd replace the alf pellets with a ration balancer and see if the increased nutrition puts a stop to that.
______________________________ The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET