Smaller poops?

Ok, I feel like I am really losing my mind here and probably nothing is wrong but yet here I am.

My mare (just turned 28) over the last few weeks has been having small(er) poo piles. I have owned her for 14+ years and her poop has always been exactly the same. Day in and day out. Now all of a sudden she is having piles that are 1/4-1/3 the size of her normal piles. The fecal balls themselves are the same size, just less of them. They also seem to be normal as far as not too wet or not too dry. I mentioned this to the vet at her spring vaccine appointment last week, and she didn’t seem concerned. However, since that appointment it seems to have gone from just 1-2 poops a day being small to almost all of them being smaller. Am I being overly paranoid? Has anyone experienced something similar? I plan to phone the vet in the morning again but I feel like she’s going to think I’m crazy!

I should mentioned all of her behavior is status quo (eating, drinking, alert, good gut sounds, pink gums, etc).


While I don’t have any experience with horses this old, I would be concerned about gut mobility. I know in cats it can be an issue as they get older. I would keep an eye out for colic and changes eating patterns.

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I would also be a bit concerned about changes in her poop. I don’t know much about colic but I do know of two horses who suffered from “slow colic”. In both cases it was a very gradual process until it got too bad to do anything about. I suggest another chat with your vet or perhaps seeking out a colic specialist.

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Has anything changed in your mare’s diet or care? Do you feed her yourself or board?

Sometimes this time of year, hay is in short supply. Is she still getting as much hay or pasture?

I’d rule out changes in her feed, first off. Then I’d be watching closely to see if she’s just not eating as much.
most animals as they age do eat less and consequently produce less manure.
When were her teeth last done? Any medications?


How are her teeth? Is she able to consume as much hay/grass as she used to?


She’s boarded but I work at the barn and do a lot of her care myself. Her feed has not changed and the hay as been relatively the same (it all comes from the same location although we did just switch the day before yesterday to bales from a different field). She gets free choice (soaked) hay and eats it well.

The only thing is that they are being transitions back onto grass at the moment (currently up to 1.5 hours) from dry lots but during the time (5 weeks) they were on dry lots (with free choice hay in hay bags) I hand grazed her 30-40 minutes daily so it wasn’t like she hasn’t had the grass in her diet.

She had her teeth done just over 3 weeks ago by our vet. We had dental x-rays done because she had been occasionally balling hay but they didn’t show anything that conclusive so she just had a routine float done. Since then I haven’t noticed as many balls of hay (maybe 1 a could of days ago but not everyday like it was before). (I should mention her teeth are excellent for her age and she still has them all haha).

Oh, the only other thing was when her fecal was done last week, they mentioned she had a mild accumulation of sand… but from what I have read sand would cause diarrhea (she doesn’t have)? So it wouldn’t explain this right?

Juicy new spring grass compacts more than older grass/hay.


I would definitely treat for sand.

Is she moving around as much as normal? Could she be being bullied in her dry lot or pasture?

Can you try her on some supplemental different hay and see if she scarfs it?

I’d try some hay pellets soaked and/or soaked hay cubes.

I’d incorporate moist hay cubes into her diet and anxiously monitoring her manure.

Several years ago I had a mini mare colic and the vet said it was a “sand colic”. She was not turned out in any sand but the ground was very dry and she was being fed on the ground so the thought was that she was ingesting a lot of dirt to get at the grass and leftover hay. I switched to hay nets or hay feeders after that and I haven’t had any problems since. But in your case, I agree that it could be something related to aging. I hope it all turns out well for you.

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My retired geldings (24 and 20) produce smaller poops when the grass returns in the spring— I watch the one like a hawk, as he coliced badly one summer. I’m a poop freak. Each spring my oldest goes from 6 large piles a night, to 4-5. His buddy also reduces from 7-8 to 5-6, with both producing slightly smaller balls of poo. Both go out on grass progressively longer each day, and the grass is longer and richer as April turns to May. Your mare might be the same?

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I have a 16.1 hand gelding that made smaller poop piles, but over time, the amount of manure was the same volume as my 16.3 gelding made. I asked my vet about it and we tried this and that to see if anything would change the bowel movement pattern. No change until JUST recently.

I switched him from a ration balancer to a forage balancer (Equi min 2 oz, Tri Amino 1 scoop, Mag Ox 1/2 tbsp, flax 2 cups). His piles have had more balls per pile and are almost the same volume as the other gelding.

His manure always looked fine, other than just expelling a few turds each BM. I figured something wasn’t quite right, but could never quite figure it out. I don’t know that the new diet has anything to do with it, but the change did occur once the diet was changed.

I’d be willing to bet grass diet. I always see a reduction in size with grass compared to hay, especially coarser hay.

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I am seeing something similar right now with my 28 year old mare (who I’ve only had since last fall so first spring with her). She’s gone from three poops during turnout (7-6) to two. And previously she would also poop between bring in and night check, but she hasn’t these last few days. There’s about the usual amount in the morning from overnight. I, too, have been watching like a hawk and looking for colic signs but she seems alert and content. Also Thursday last week she actually had some diarrhea overnight.

I do a monthly psyllium purge and we’re doing that right now.

I’ve been putting her on grass for the last couple of weeks and she’s up to 1 hour 15 minutes. But I’ve always handgrazed her so it’s not a sudden change and I’ve only been increasing her time by 15 min every 4 days.

It does seem from this thread that the common theme is being turned out more on grass. And probably more lush grass considering the time of year. My word, some of the grass in my grass paddock is probably 12 inches tall already. I only have two and they haven’t even passed the halfway point in the grass paddock yet. I just need it to dry out enough so that I can mow it.