The most likely cause is self-medication due to discomfort stemming from physical and/or mental stress from lack of forage. Chewing activates saliva production which buffers gastric acid. The stomach produces acid 24/7 to prepare for constant uptake. Approximately 75% of foodstuff passes through the stomach within 30 minutes of consumption. Once feed stuff travels to the small intestine the stomach continues to produce acid with or without food present. Chewing buffers gastric acid and can give some relief even without food.
Prior to providing my horses with free-choice forage any object within reach was subject to mastication and destruction including lead ropes, halters, fly masks etc. Post free choice forage objects remained intact!
Horses are innately oral; they are mentally and physically designed to chew 18-22 hours a day. Young horses may require a firm surface to assist in exfoliation of baby teeth such as a log.
Common Causes of Physical and/or Mental Discomfort/Stress & Vices
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Monique Warren is the owner of Hay Pillow Inc.