Moved to a new barn and my horse won't eat!

Help everyone! I need some advice. Last week I moved my 21 year old Arab gelding to a new boarding facility where he has a stall and a large paddock with three feedings a day, hay in AM & PM, stable mix pellets at lunch. He was at his last boarding facility for eight years and was in a 12x14 stall with only two feedings a day. He is currently on all grass hay. We travel to shows often and he has always been his normal, happy self so I did not expect the change he is not experiencing. Since we have moved, he is barely touching his hay but will scarf down the pellets. He will take a couple bites of hay in his stall and then run back out to his paddock. He has horses next to him in other paddocks but they are all separate. He has been on a full tube of ulcergard for three weeks now to treat already existing ulcers. I was thinking about switching his PM feed to an alfalfa/grass mix to see if that will entice him to eat more. What can I do to encourage him to eat his hay?

Also, whenever I take him out he starts neighing like a mad-man. We have a very strong bond that I feel has diminished since we moved, sadly. I will see his normal personality come out at times and I know that the neighing is just a confidence issue. He is very calm when we are out and does not spook only neighs. How can I help him to feel more comfortable around the barn?

Thank you! :slight_smile:

I just purchased a new pony that will do the exact same as yours. I have bought three different kinds of hay and he won’t touch any of them, but his grain is not an issue??

Can you feed hay in his outside paddock too? Maybe try the alfalfa mix in a net or feeder out there.

Sounds like he is distracted by the fact that he has access to the outside now and running out to see what is going on . He was at the last barn a fairly long time and he needs time to adjust and he probably misses the horses he was stalled next to.

Just give him some time to acclimate to a whole new schedule and way of living.


@Gumby&Rosey, He will eat the pellets provided by the barn at the lunch feeding, Stable Mix. When I feed him grain he will eat a little bit of it and then leave his stall again to go back into the paddock. Eventually he goes in and eats it because it is always gone the next day. I’m going to try feeding him outside in his paddock and see if that makes a difference.

He will settle give him a few weeks to relax and figure out his new routine. As long as he is mostly maintaining weight, don’t stress. He probably misses friends. Some horses don’t do well being alone.

Agree with @luvmyhackney That Major a change needs more than a week to adjust to.
By now I’d opine he knows this is NOT a Show, unless you routinely do weeklong shows?.
Horses love routine & you’ve thrown him a new curve.

Good news he is eating the (new to him?) pelleted feed.
If you do notice any weight loss or continued refusal to eat hay after several weeks, maybe add some pelleted forage?
Can you get a few bales of the hay he was eating and mix that with his ration from this barn?
I understand Mgmt at the new place may not go along with this extra step in feeding, so are you able to do any of the hayfeeding yourself?

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I went through this recently with my 32 yr. old Arabian. At his age, I was freaking out a bit about the missed meals and his constant stall/fence walking. It took a bit longer than most other horses but he finally settled in about a month or so. He was at his old place for 10 years.

It seemed that he would be more stressed when I was there so I tried not to make a big deal about his behavior then. My new barn’s BO would leave me notes whether or not he ate. Give him time. Arabs are quite sensitive and seem to react to changes easily.

Did you have hay and grain from former barn so you could transition to the new barns feeds gradually? Is he not eating that, the former barns feeds, or a mix of the two, or the new barns feeds?

Another vote to add hay pellets for a bit if he will nibble them. My mare is at home wherever I park her as long as she has her ball that dispenses them in the stall.

It sounds to me like he’s distracted by the new environment. I’d feed him outside. Think about it- he was in a fairly small pen (12x24) and now he has a larger paddock- more stimulation. I would bet he is surrounded by other horses outside. He probably feels more comfortable being near his new “herd” rather than inside away from them. (I’m saying this as how i picture what you’ve described)
I wouldn’t worry too much. He will settle in and become his old self again. The whinnying is just confidence and looking for his friends. You’ll have your old horse back soon and i think the eating issue can be solved by feeding him in a different location.
case in point- i have a horse in a box stall. I had put his hay bag on the side wall where there was a nice hook for the hay. This horse normally devours his hay bag… but when he moved to the new barn he wouldn’t eat but half his bag. I moved the bag to the front of stall where he could see out while he eat and now he’s finishing his whole hay bag again.

I agree with the others. Try feeding him in the paddock where he can see the other horses