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Strange horse behavior includes eating feces

My 10 year old gelding (new to me) has a terrible habit of eating (yes, eating, not sniffing) his own feces or the feces of other horses. He will do this in the middle of a training session and is very hard to correct. We are working with the behavioral issues but wonder if there is a medical problem or nutritional deficiency that should also be addressed.

Any ideas? Thanks. Mares

Hi Maris,

Actually, what you are seeing is not uncommon. Generally, it is brought about by some sort of nutritional imbalance or deficiency. It is actually nature trying to help the horse out. It knows it needs something and is trying to receive it through the feces. It is an embarrassment for sure and some horses will stop everything to 'get at it'.

You can try putting the horse to yielding the hind quarters as soon as he heads for a 'pile'. Putting the horse to some sort of activity is a good way to modify behavior you do not want. However, as there is a nutritional element to this, you may want to consult a vet. My experience is that this is much more common in foals and if seen in an adult horse will generally subside over time. It still wouldn't hurt to just ask your vet about a possible vitamin deficiency in the horse.

Thanks for your question.

Sincerely, Franklin

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