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Feeding Vinegar to HorsesBy Dr. Clarissa Brown-Douglas · June 17, 2011

The taste of cider vinegar is appealing to some horses, and in small quantities, it can be used in a variety of ways to aid feed management. With a lack of supporting research on the use of this product in horses, horse owners are cautioned not to believe all claims regarding its benefits.

Cider vinegar can be added to a horse's drinking water to mask slight differences in the taste or smell of water encountered at shows or trail rides. Begin a few weeks ahead of the trip by adding a little cider vinegar to the horse's water to accustom the horse to the taste. Continue this practice at the show or trail ride to encourage the horse to drink water that may be different from what he is used to at home.

For horses that are off their feed for some reason, pouring a little cider vinegar over the feed may make the grain more tempting. Because the sharp, sour taste tends to repel some horses before they realize they like it, putting a few drops of vinegar on feed from time to time may be a good idea. This will introduce the horse to the flavor so that he will be more inclined to accept it later when the need arises.

Researchers from Cornell University found that horses supplemented with one cup of apple cider vinegar per day had more acidic colonic fluid. Most equine nutrition recommendations focus on preventing acidosis in the hindgut; the only situation in which lowering the pH of the hindgut would be beneficial is in the prevention of enteroliths, mineral concretions that form in the gastrointestinal tract and block the passage of ingested feed.  

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have recommended apple cider vinegar in the prevention of enteroliths in at-risk horses. Adding half a cup (0.11 liters) of cider vinegar to a horse's feed or sprinkling the liquid over a hay ration has been recommended to help combat the formation of enteroliths.

With little research on the books, stick to using apple cider vinegar as a feed-management aid.

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