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My experience with windsuckers

Chynna Marston

My experience with windsuckers...

I have come across people who completely reject windsuckers but, whilst it does require some more care, it doesn’t change the horse and it would be disappointing to think you would dismiss, possibly a dream horse, on a habit. And especially one that us humans have been the cause of. In fact, my best horses have all been windsuckers.

How windsucking starts...

There are 2 reasons given for a horse to windsuck and, unfortunately, both of the reasons are caused by us and keeping horses in an unnatural environment. 

The first reason is diet. As a horse in its natural environment would be consistently grazing throughout the day, it’s stomach has a high level of acid to be able to continuously break down food. When racehorses are in work they are almost always in stables or yards with no grasses and are usually fed twice daily. These infrequent meals means less saliva is produced to neutralise the stomach acid, which begins to damage the stomach walls. Windsucking provides the saliva production and also releases endorphins to act as a painkiller.

The second reason is boredom. Being locked up from a young age in stables and yards, particularly when a horse is going through their growing and playful periods, leaves a horse bored and lacking in stimulation. Windsucking can begin as a grinding of the teeth along doors etc and progress through. It then can be linked to stressful situations or anxiety relief.

It’s really such a sad situation to realise that we have been a cause of this habit but then are so quick to rule out a horse because of something he hasn’t had a control over. 

For me I have found 2 problems that are quite easy to manage and certainly not a turn off at all. The first is stomach ulcers. To combat these, there are some products out now which can help. BetaVet have some fantastic options out at the moment! But also continual access to hay helps keeps the stomach acid in check.

The other problem is the wearing down of the front teeth. This is a long, long term problem and I have found only starts to be noticeable in older age or if the horse is only on grass. 

These are the only two issues we have encountered in over 15 years of owning windsuckers. We would never turn away a windsucker and the chance of one of them having a wonderful future. We have heard many facilities saying no to these horses so we now have quite a few horses happy, healthy and windsucking on trees, gates..and anything else! In my experience they have never taught another horse to windsuck. And if it keeps them happy and relaxed then so be it. So don’t rule out a windsucker as your dream horse!❤️❤️


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