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Placing Feeders for Old HorsesBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · November 10, 2015

For healthy, sound horses, eating off the ground seems natural, as body posture mimics that of grazing. Old horses, especially those with chronic forelimb lameness, may feel increased pain when grazing or eating from the ground.

Why? When horses lower their head to eat or graze, the center of gravity shifts forward, placing more weight on the forelegs.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that horses with chronic lameness have improved appetites when feed is placed in a trough or tub elevated off the ground, such as one anchored from a wall or hung from a fence, and placed at chest level.

Horses with known neck problems, such as osteoarthritis, can also benefit from raised hay feeders. The act of pulling hay from a net or feeder may aggravate arthritic pain, so it is best to fluff or separate the hay so mouthfuls are easily grasped.

Feeding regimens and nutritional management frequently must change to accommodate the peculiarities of old horses.