Coprophagia (Horses Eating Their Own Manure)
Hi Dr. Weiss, I hope you can help me. Recently I witnessed my horse eating her own poop in her stall. I have not seen her do this in the field. She's a 23-year-old Arab/Welch pony who is fed 1.5 lbs. of senior grain twice a day, and right now, until pasture comes in, she has access to unlimited hay. Now that I've seen this, I wonder how long it's been going on. Early in the morning, she does not have as much waste in her stall as my other pony does in his.
Why is she doing this, is it dangerous, and how can I get her to stop?
This behavior has a fancy namecoprophagia. Coprophagia is regularly seen among foals, and while it does occur in adult horses, it is much less common. The behavior can occur because of dietary imbalances or boredom. I would begin by having a vet take a quick look at your horse's current diet to make sure it is complete. You might also discuss with your vet the possibility of running some blood work. Assuming all is normal with her diet and blood work, begin providing your horse with plenty of enrichment options while in her stall, such as lick treats, bobbing for apples in her water bucket or a scratching place. Also, be sure she has plenty of outdoor time turned out in a paddock. The behavior should decrease when she has more opportunity for enrichment.