Do you have a stable full of beavers? Learn how to stop horses from chewing wood with these tips. Did you know, that a single horse who chews wood can destroy his stall, your wood fencing, and all of the trees in his pasture?
Not what you want.
Aside from the deconstruction of your horse’s living quarters, a horse chewing wood, just isn’t good for him health wise. Getting your horse to stop chewing wood may or may not be difficult.
There’re no set rules with an equine beaver when it comes to chomping on wood.
If you know why it’s happening, that’ll give you a leg up on how to handle the situation, thereby turning your beaver back into a horse. In this post, I’ll dive into the top reasons why a horse chews wood and offer tips on how to make him stop turning his environment into sawdust.
Why Do Horses Chew Wood?
There aren’t many reasons why a horse would chew wood. Horses in the wild don’t exhibit this behavior under normal conditions. Wood chewing is a behavior of domesticated horses. Below are 4 reasons.
Reason #1 – Boredom
The reason most horses chew wood is simple boredom. And it’s usually when he’s in a stall that this activity rears its head. Being confined to a small space isn’t natural for a horse. At liberty, a horse spends most of his time leisurely grazing.
And he walks as he grazes.
Horses will move all over their pasture when they’re turned out. However, in a stall, movement is limited. This can cause a horse to become bored and frustrated. And when that happens, in seeking relief, he may take it out on his stall and start chewing the wood.
Reason #2 Vitamin Deficiency
But boredom isn’t the only cause of wood chewing. Instead of boredom, a vitamin deficiency could be making your horse chew his stall down. This isn’t common, but it does happen. So be aware that it’s a possibility.
Reason #3 Learned Behavior From Other Horses
Another, and very annoying reason your horse is chewing wood, is learned behavior from a new horse.
Yes, horses will copy each other. If you bring in a new horse with a wood chewing habit, one or more (usually more) non-chewers will pick up this bad habit and start chewing wood because they watched their stablemate doing it.
This is also the hardest situation to deal with. It’s a habit. And habits are hard to break.
Reason #4 Trauma
Lastly, trauma, such as moving from one home to another, or losing a long-time companion can cause emotional disturbances, resulting in unwanted behaviors such as wood chewing.
Whatever the reason your horse has sprouted beaver tendencies, you’ll want to stop the behavior as soon as you can. Replacing chewed up wood is expensive. Losing trees due to having the bark girdled (that’s when all bark is removed completely around a tree trunk in a continuous section) is a major problem.
Fallen trees are also expensive and time consuming to remove. Plus, it’s possible for your horse to get large splinters lodged in his mouth. And it will cause uneven wear on his teeth. Not to mention how painful splinters are.
So, you want to get your horse to stop chewing wood as soon as possible. These tips will help.
Stop Horses from Chewing Wood – Tip #1 Increase Turnout Time
If your horse is stalled, increase turnout time as much as possible. Relieving his frustration from boredom might be enough to make him stop. Exercise is the best medicine for a bored horse. Even if there isn’t grass in his turnout, he can still run and engage in play, which makes him feel good and relieves frustration.
Stop Horses from Chewing Wood – Tip #2 Buy Small Hanging Toys
If your horse must remain stalled for some reason, such as a health problem, or injury, buy some stall toys for him to play with. Hanging horse balls, or attaching toys that have moving parts to the stall wall will entertain him more so than the wood will.
One caveat, always make sure anything that hangs isn’t low enough that he could get a leg caught or tangled in. When a horse gets a leg caught in something, he will panic. And a panicked horse is a danger to himself. He’s also a threat to you when you try to help him.
Keep hanging toys high and out of reach of hooves. Only teeth should be able to reach a horse ball or other tied up toy.
Stop Horses from Chewing Wood – Tip #3 Apply Repellant
Apply a repellant to the wood. There’re sprays, washes, and some pastes with a bitter taste that can be applied. However, this won’t work with all horses as some don’t seem to be bothered by the taste. And it’s not a one and done solution.
Rain will eventually wash the repellant away outside, and the repellant isn’t practical for protecting trees.
Stop Horses from Chewing Wood – Tip #4 Give Your Horse Lots of Hay
Give your horse as much hay as possible. Satiating his natural desire to graze with roughage may help turn your horse’s attention from wooden surfaces. Make sure your hay is good quality and properly cured by having a dependable source to buy it from.
Feeding molded or improperly cured hay can cause serious problems, and in some instances, a fatal outcome. Young horses are at a higher risk for bad outcomes than mature horses. But don’t take any chances with bad hay – regardless of your horse’s age.
Cover Wooden Surfaces
Covering wooden surfaces is also a choice. However, this isn’t a cheap option. You can cap your stall walls and wooden fence rails with metal caps. And you can wrap tree trunks with protective covering. You can also put up fencing around trees to keep horses away. If you have many trees, fencing probably won’t be practical.
Consult Your Vet
If you suspect your horse’s diet, consult with your veterinarian to rule out any deficiencies or to correct the problem.
Run Electric Wire Around Wooden Fences
For outdoors, you can also run electric wire to keep horses away from wooden fences. This won’t be a practical solution to protect your trees, but it’ll certainly keep horses away from the fence. This is the most effective measure you can take.
My Final Thoughts…
There’s no doubt that wood chewing is something you’ll want to stop as quickly as possible. It isn’t good for your horses or your property. Your fencing and barn are an investment. Protect them, and help your horse live his best life too. This problem isn’t impossible to fix.
These tips offer the best ways to stop wood chewing. Try one or more of them and get that beaver turned back into an equine.
Did you find this post helpful? If so, please leave your comments below. For more horse health tips, read my post, “Horse Health Advice – Stop Your Horse From Premature Death”. If you’re looking for horse saddles, visit The Horse Saddle Shop.