Horses are intelligent and naturally inclined to spend time outside. They may also develop bad habits from boredom or frustration. Horses often chew on their wooden stalls and other wood within their enclosures to relieve boredom or frustration.
Chewing on wood can cause damage and even death.
Some medical conditions, like vitamin deficiencies, may make a horse want to chew wood. Most horses that chew on the wood are bored.
Why do horses chew wood?
Horses chew wood for a variety of reasons. Wood chewing isn’t typical among wild horses. This is because the horse is kept in an unnatural environment.
Horses kept in stalls and paddocks away from other horses or fed mostly concentrates with no food for long periods can become bored and start to chew fences.
Sometimes, vitamin deficiency may lead to horses developing pica–a desire to eat non-edible substances to relieve the problem.
Horses may have learned to chew wood from their stable or pasture mates. Horses are like naughty children who try to do what other children do, even though they might not have thought of it. The habit is permanent. This can be tricky when trying to get the horse to stop wood-chewing. You may have to involve multiple horses in your efforts.
Horses’ cribs may be hard on wood (and other surfaces). This isn’t wood chewing.
Cribbing, also known as aerophagia, is an obsessive-compulsive disorder that affects only domestic horses. It involves the horse putting its incisors into a straight object, such as a fence post, and then pulling against it while inhaling.
How to stop wood-chewing
After your veterinarian has determined no nutritional or medical issues, you can begin to address the problem.
Keep Your Horse Outdoors
Horses kept indoors are more likely to develop ways to relieve boredom and frustration. Horses may become bored when outside, as there is not much to do after eating all of their hay. Wild horses spend most of their time grazing.
To avoid wood chewing, horses can enjoy a natural life outdoors, with plenty of grass and hay. There are instances when outdoor turning out may not be possible. For example, horses that have been injured and require stall rest. Horses can also be kept out of icy pastures or areas with limited resources.
Protect and Treat Wood Surfaces
Sprays, pastes, or washes with a bitter taste may be an option. The rain can wash these products away, and horses may not notice the bitter taste. Also, ensure that the product you apply to the wood is not toxic.
Metal caps can be nailed over fence posts and rails or wrapped trees with plastic mesh. You can attach a string of electric fencing to the top rail to keep your horse from chewing too close to the fence.
Socialize your horse
Socializing with horses can help reduce boredom. However, put only two horses together that chew wood. Also, ensure that the horse that chews wood doesn’t become a problem for its non-chewing friend.
Gift Your Horse a Toy
Give your horse a toy to distract the horse from wooden surfaces like wood. For example, a large rubber ball or a large rubber ball. 3
Check Your Horse’s Diet
Talk to your veterinarian about this. However, some evidence suggests that a horse with a lower grain intake is likelier to engage in cribbing or chewing wood. 4 You should also give your horse as much raw material as possible to satisfy his natural grazing instinct.