This is a question for the vet with the login name of "Equine Vet". This person helped me with a previous question and

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Customer: This is a question for the vet with the login name of "Equine Vet". This person helped me with a previous question and so I would like the question to go to them only. I do not see a way to direct the question to a specific individual hence my inclination to only accept answers to responses from this person. It is not meant to be inconsiderate to others who have helped me, but only because this person has previous knowledge that is applicable in this case.

To: "Equine Vet". The horse that was the subject of my questions regarding the PPE etc. is doing very well. Her training is coming along nicely and she's built a lot of muscle and proving that she is very easy to work with more so than 90% of horses according to my trainer.

The only thing that is giving me premature gray hairs is her chewing!! The people are bought her from are very good about being up front about any vices their horses have. There were none with this horse. Even when I first got her she did not chew. After 2 months I moved her from one barn (24/7 turnout in a pasture and very large run in shed with 4 other horses) to another. The current barn is a private farm where my horse is there with 2 others. They get turned out together during the day and then at night my horse goes in her stall, but we open the back door so she can go into a 10 acre pasture and graze all night. She also has access to plenty of hay as well.

In the beginning she chewed on her stall, but only on the side where she had a neighbor. We sprayed with "chew stop" but after the second application she started licking the wood that was sprayed! We then moved her to the center stall which is lined with metal around the edges. Then she stopped chewing. A month or so later she started chewing when she was turned out in the area in front of the barn (pasture adjoins the barn). When she is turned out in the evening to go out the back of the barn, she doesn't chew.

Fast forward another 2 months and she is chewing all the time!!! She chews anything she can get her teeth on. So now to avoid having the barn eaten, she wears a grazing muzzle. Fortunately she tolerates it.

We recently returned from 2 weeks of "boot camp" at my trainer's barn and my horse didn't chew there, at least not enough that anyone commented. However, that barn has electric wiring around the wood pasture fences and very very hard wood in the barn, so the horses have a hard time biting off chunks. Right after my horse came back from boot camp is when the chewing started to get worse at her "home" barn. (note: the wood is much softer and easier to chew on)

Although the muzzle solves the problem for now, i'd like to find out if there are some underlying physical causes that might explain this. Or is it simply a difference in her workload and boredom factor?
Answered by Equine Vet in 23 hours 11 years ago
Equine Vet
Pet Specialist

174 satisfied customers

Specialities include: Horse Veterinary, Large Animal Veterinary, Small Animal Veterinary

Hi, thanks for requesting me, I just happened to come online and saw your question (there is a way to request a particular expert where I will receive an email telling me you have a question waiting, but I am not sure exactly how to do so, the Just Answer help probably outlines it.

So the chewing. I can understand where you would be upset. My mare will chew the barn down if given the opportunity and she has no obvious abnormalities otherwise. She does so when kept stabled for longer than usual, and will also sometimes chew on my fence posts as well. I have found that horses that are dead-set on chewing don't care of the wood is sprayed with whatever anti-chewing potion you can find, the will get past it and continue eating. When mine seems to have found a particularly pleasing part of the fence I will apply hot sauce or cayenne pepper mixed with water or Vaseline and this curbs it for a bit. There are other horses I know of that have to wear a muzzle to stop the chewing, but unless she is overweight I would advise using the metal half-sphere grated ones and not the nylon ones with the small hole meant for decreasing food intake. The metal ones don't slow the amount of food but they keep the horse form being able to get their teeth through to eat wood or crib. There is no way to say for sure why she is doing it, but I think you have touched on the most common causes. Many horses are just bored or frustrated from being kept confined and chew to pass the time. Sometimes providing toys in the stall if they need to be stalled will help. Some good ones are the Jolly Balls and the Lickit toys, especially in horses who have an oral fixation. I would also make sure that she has access to a salt block to make sure she is getting all the required nutrients beyond what she receives in her feed/hay. Ideally she would be turned out exclusively and worked relatively hard regularly to expend some of the energy she is using being bored. Sometimes horses will be less destructive when turned out with buddies, so if she chews more when she is turned out alone than with the other horse, then I would try to figure out a way to always get her out with a friend and have free access to a shelter/stalls. The electric fence really helps, mine now only chews on the gate since I upgraded my fence charger ;) I also like the metal covers you referred to in the stall to cover the top of the dutch doors, or the U-shaped ones with the bars so she can look out and see her friends but will have a more difficult time chewing the stall door. Also important is making sure that she has adequate hay throughout her time in the stall to keep her busy and also to promote good digestion; some horses with vices like this actually suffer from gastric ulcers and more regular, small meals will help.

I am afraid that I can't offer a cure for the chewing or a specific reason why she chews, but hopefully you have a few new ideas and feel less alone in not being the only person whose horse eats the barn down! Perhaps you could speak to the original owners and find out what her management was like there---how long turned out, with how many horses, electric on the fences?, toys?, feeding schedule and what fed? and maybe you can figure out what has changed between then and now. Sounds like she may need more of a job to do, which probably helped her concentrate and not be destructive at the trainer's farm. It would not be a bad idea to have your vet give her a general exam and have a look in her mouth to see if she is having any dental issues related to age (sometimes they can have retained caps and such and these can cause pain and misbehavior), or if you are really concerned about making sure everything is in balance on the inside pull some blood for a chemistry to check electrolytes and organ function. The only sure method of checking for gastric ulcers is gastroscopy, which is not hugely involved but usually costs a few hundred dollars.

Please let me know if there is anything I can clarify or if you have further questions.

Thanks so much for the detailed response! I really appreciate the level of information you provided. I wish you practiced in NJ :)

Although it sounds like the chewing phenomena can be a tough problem, you've given me some great ideas on how to address it in the short term. Given that my horse only recently got back from a 2 week "boot camp" and the chewing seemed to escalate after that, I imagine the boredom factor is playing a role as you said.

I'll give those suggestions a try and see how it goes. In the meantime I'll try the muzzle with the metal slats.

Are there any downsides (other than $$) to asuming she may have ulcers and just giving Gastroguard? (I have 10 tubes that the barn vet at another place gave me wholesale, so I suppose I could get another X number of tubes). I read somewhere that a high percentage of TB's get them, at least those that raced.

Sorry for the wait, I have been on call this weekend and it has been crazy with all the rain. If you lived close to the PA/NJ border we could probably help you out! Giving the Gastrogard shouldn't hurt, we often use it as a preventative during stressful times such as hospitalization and competition, although at a smaller dose. Giving it 7-10 days to see if there is any effect should be fine. If she definitely had ulcers, the duration would be one tube once a day for 30 days then 1/4 tube once a day for maintenance. A tube of Ulcergard has the same ingredients and concentration as a tube of Gastrogard but is available over the counter from the same company (with different dosing instructions on the tube). You can use it the same way as I have detailed above for a tube of Gastrogard. It might be more expensive though. Keep in mind gastroscopy only runs about $350 dollars, at least at our clinic, so if you are going to be spending that much on the drugs, you might save more by doing some diagnostics. Hope that helps!
Thanks again for the reply. What is the name of your clinic? I might be stabling at Bow Brickhill Stables for the winter (maybe dec through february). It's pretty close to the border so it may work depending on where exactly you are.

If you wouldn't mind sending me a note either here or [email protected], that way I have some way to find out where you are located and if it might work if I end up at that other barn for the winter. It's hard to get anything done in the winter without an indoor. Even now it's pretty crazy with all the rain!!

I work for Quakertown Veterinary Clinic in Quakertown, PA. I looked up the barn you referred to and it said it was in Milford, so just across from Upper Black Eddy, where we do go. I don't think that would be a problem, but we don't usually do emergencies to NJ (although we do have a referral-type facility with a boarded surgeon, etc. to trailer to). The number to the clinic is(NNN) NNN-NNNNand my name isXXXXX can't email you because they have blocked out your email address, sorry. You can contact me at the clinic if you would like more info. Thanks.
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Equine Vet
174 satisfied customers
Pet Specialist
Equine Vet
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174 satisfied customers



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