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Re: can horses pick their ration?

TStampke wrote:
> it generally accepted that horses can balance their own
> rations if given the chance <ie dynamite and ABC>
> tracy

No, at least not by the scientific community.  In research trials, the
only mineral that deficient horses will actively seek out is sodium
chloride.  I have my own feelings that calcium-deficient horses will
also eat an available source, ie limestone, but horses provided with a
"cafeteria" style mineral supplements do not eat specific minerals to
rectify deficiencies, even when the deficiencies are severe and
approaching life-threatening.  They *absolutely* will not eat every one
of the macro and microminerals in the right amounts and ratios to
"balance" a diet.

In the big picture, given equal opportunity at a variety of feedstuffs,
horses will choose to eat what they like (ie, fifty pounds of grain),
regardless of whether or not it's good for them, rather than what they
need.  The exception to choosing foods based on preference is if they
have somehow learned negative reinforcement from eating something in
particular, like a poisonous plant that makes them feel ill.  Even in
those cases, unless the negative reinforcement occurs within about 30
minutes, horses won't associate feeling sick with eating the toxic
plant---which is why horses that colic from grain overload in the
afternoon won't learn from the mistake of having eaten all that grain
early that morning.

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