Why do horses dunk their hay and can you teach them not to?

horse drinkingQuestion: My horse dunks his hay every time he takes a bite. It’s very annoying and I wish I could get him out of this habit but I’m not sure how to do this. Do you have any suggestions? His water bucket gets dirty and then he won’t drink from it.

Answer from April Reeves: Your horse is trying to tell you something, but you are not listening. No horse performs an action on his own without value and use.

Buy a second water bucket and hang it on the other side away from his current water bucket, and make sure he has lots of water to dunk his hay.

He is trying to make his hay more palatable by wetting it. Hay that is soaked for an hour or two before eating is easier for the horse to chew and smells better. It takes the dust away – dust that may have caused him problems in the future with his respiratory system.

You can soak your hay before feeding it. Soak it for a few minutes and then take the water out, letting it drain well. Make sure you feed it within 4 hours, as it will tend to get moldy otherwise.

You can test your hay for sugar content by soaking a flake in a bucket for one hour. The level of brown color in the water is the sugar. The darker the brown, the more sugar is in your hay.

Humans tend to ignore the language of our horse, and take our own personal opinions “into the corral”. Listen to your horse by watching him. They tell us, in no uncertain terms, when they want or need something

3 responses to “Why do horses dunk their hay and can you teach them not to?

  1. makes sense but…when they dunk it…they dont eat it..you pull the wet hay out and they eat around it …the water is brown..is there too much sugar in the hay?

    • When you soak hay for 2 hours and the water left over is brown, that is the sugar left behind. Since we can’t speak directly to horses, I have always believed they have the ability to know these things intrinsically, and thus, when they feel the sugar load is too high for them, they dunk their hay. Or they use the water intake as they need to for stomach and digestive issues. I use to think it was just a habit but after watching the gelding I had for 8 years, there was a hay field we baled and used, that he did not dunk. This led me to rethink WHY….

  2. My fell cob made dunks her hay now and again she
    Started doing it again her bedding is wet though wot can I do to stop it

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