How to Make a Horse Eat More Slowly

When a horse eats too fast it's said to be bolting its food. This most often happens with grains and other concentrates although it can happen with hay. It's a problem because horses that bolt their food are more susceptible to choke. Some horses that bolt spill a lot of food out of their mouths, to have it get lost in the bedding where it won't do the horse any good. Because your horse isn't chewing properly, it may not be extracting all the nutrition it can out of its feeds. So, you need to slow your horse down some way, so that it chews smaller mouthfuls more slowly. Slower feeding lessens the chance of colic also.


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    Use a slow feeder. This is one of the easiest ways to slow down a greedy hay eater. There are many types on the market and many you can build. These slow feeders make a horse work a bit harder to get its hay in smaller mouthfuls.
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    Put a salt block or medium-sized rocks in the bucket with his feed. This will force him to eat around them, therefore slowing him down. Salt blocks are often better than rocks as they won't hurt the horse, if they try to eat them. But some horses can be clever about flipping the rocks aside. If your horse is smart enough to get around the rocks easily, try screwing down tough balls, like the indestructible ones made for dogs, or other tough, non-toxic, non-splintering pet toys to the bottom of the feed tub.
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    Add a bulk substance to the feed such as chaff or Alfalfa. This can help prevent a horse form bolting its food, but may not help extreme bolters.
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    Take the edge off of your horse's appetite somehow. Your horse may be more greedy if it is hungry, so try feeding hay first so that its stomach feels full.
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    Separate your horse. Some horses are afraid that another horse will steal its feed, so feed your horse away from other horses so it doesn't feel threatened.
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    Wet the grain or concentrate until it's like a thick soup. This makes it impossible for the horse to get big mouthfuls, and it helps whatever the horse does get in its mouth slide down its throat easier. There are times when this isn't practical, such as in winter when the feed may freeze before the horse has a chance to finish.
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    Try feeding from a wide flat bin, rather than a deep bucket, so the grain is spread over a wider area. The horse won't be able to plunge its nose in to get a big mouthful. Sprinkling grain on the floor might result in a lot of waste if the horse tramples it and scatters it into the stall bedding. And, on dirt floors, feeding off of the floor might mean your horse is ingesting soil, which can lead to sand colic.
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    Split each feeding into smaller feedings, and give each mini-feeding 5 or so minutes apart so that he can't get enough food at one time to choke on. It is effective, but is rather labor intensive and time consuming.


  • If you have any questions about these methods, ask your vet before using them.


  • Make sure you don't overfeed your horse.
  • Horse's are unpredictable and as such can be dangerous.
  • If your horse starts to show sighs of colic or choke, call the vet.

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Categories: Horse Care | Horse Training