Why is my horse dropping his hay?

To find out why horses chew then drop their food, we asked expert nutritionist Joanna Palmer at Allen & Page.

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Q: My horse is 26 and looks well. However, I've noticed him chewing his hay and dropping it. Why might this be? 

Dropping bits of partially chewed hay is known as quidding and can be a sign that a horse is struggling to chew long fibre.

Your horse should be seen by a vet or a qualified equine dental technician (EDT) to rule out or treat any dental or mouth problems that may be affecting his ability to eat.

Unfortunately, even with the best care and regular routine treatments, there is little that can be done to prevent the deterioration in dental condition that occurs with age.

Old horses and ponies with worn, loose, or missing teeth can struggle to chew efficiently or be deterred from doing so by a dental pain and sore gums.

Normal fibre sources, such as grass, hay and chaff can become difficult to eat, so providing alternative sources of fibre that can be easily chewed may be necessary.

Feeding a quick-soaking fibre feed as a complete or partial hay replacer is a way of providing your horse with the essential fibre he needs in a form that is easy to eat.