Horse Care For Beginners – What to Do When Your Horse is Weak and Refuses to Feed Well

As you ride and enjoy your horse, you may occasionally observe a weakness or refusal of your horse to feed. These conditions are called debility and off feed respectively. We shall consider these two, one after the other starting with debility.

Debility – Debility in horses is a state of weakness of one or more systems of its body when that part is unable to perform or withstand the strain put upon it.

Clinical Sign of Debility – The clinical sign of debility is mainly the apparent loss of body weight and condition, noticeably on the bony prominences of the animal such as the ribs, cheek bones and point of hip.

Off feed – This is the refusal of the horse to eat its normal ration or part thereof.

Clinical Signs of Off feed – The clinical signs of off feed in horses include the following:

– Refusal of food.

– Using its mouth to pour the food away.

– Food wastage.

Causes of Off feed – The causes of off feed in horses include:

– Error in management.

– Unbalanced ration.

– Error in feeding and watering.

– Over work.

– Over feeding.

– Feeding before watering.

– Irregular feeding.

– Working immediately after feeding.

– Indigestion.

– Irregular molars.

– Old age.

– After effect of some equine diseases like tuberculosis, rheumatism, worm infection and sleeping sickness.

– Feeding immediately after overwork.

– Exposure to unfavourable climate or weather condition.

Treatment – Debility and off feed in horses can be treated by:

– First identifying the cause and removing it.

– Encouraging good feeding habits.

– Providing adequate housing and disposition.

– Ensuring regular but graded exercises.

– Giving the horse sufficient rest.

– Provision of balanced diet which includes hays, wheat or maize offal, calcium blocks, crushed maize, horse pellets, additives etc.

Some of the conditions which cause debility in horses may include self inflicted injuries and diseases such as thrush, colic, rheumatism and lameness. Treat these conditions and you have a strong and healthy horse.

Enjoy Your Horse

Chijioke Onwunle