Today maybe April Fools Day but this post is about a condition that is no laughing matter. I first encountered quidding when my horses became senior citizens. I began to noticing wads of twisted hay strewn about the pasture. What in the world? Were these wads the handiwork of some crazy bird or perhaps the mysterious beings who make crop circles? Over time there were more and more wads. It had to be one of my horses, but which, why and how?
Determined to get to the bottom of things, one morning I doled out individual piles of hay, grabbed my lawn chair and sat in the pasture to watch them eat. Just as my coffee cooled my patience was rewarded when my 25 year-old Shetland, Joe the Pony, twisted his head awkwardly and out of his mouth dropped a hay wad. Aha! Now I knew who was making them but not why.
I collected several wads and when my riding instructor arrived later that week I produced the artistic twists and asked her opinion. She knew immediately they were quids and advised that I make an appointment with my vet.
What’s the Problem?
Quidding is a condition caused by a chewing malfunction. Sound teeth allow horses to breakdown feed and grain efficiently but an oral problem is sometimes revealed by the presence of quids. A broken or missing tooth, an injury to the mouth or tongue, even an abscess may inspire quidding. While it is usually associated with older horses, young horse may also develop the condition. If you see wads of grass laying about they are evidence that something is wrong and an indication that your horse maybe experiencing pain.
You can’t resolve quidding by yourself. Your horse requires a bit of TLC from your veterinarian or equine dentist. An oral examination should reveal the exact problem, the easiest fix maybe to simply have your horse’s teeth floated.
Floating however, was not the answer for Joe the Pony. At his advanced age, Joe’s problem did not have an easy solution. Joe the Pony had ground all his teeth to gum level. He was no longer able to properly chew any food. Lacking teeth to break down the hay, Joe was simply rolling the forage between his jaw and cheek until it fell out to the ground. My vet advised a change of feed – no more grain only pellets and a splash of rice bran oil (canola, soybean or corn oil work too) and all meals to be served as a soupy mush.
My horses live communally so Joe the Pony continued to have access to fescue which he chewed then spat out. A half flake of alfalfa became his favorite treat. He would carefully shaking out the stems he was unable to chew then gobble up the soft leaves. I also gave him a handful of alfalfa pellets soaked to a soupy consistency to meet his daily forage needs.
Joe the Pony continued to quid the rest of his life. The vet’s oral exam confirmed that his quidding was not painful it was simply the result of no longer having functional teeth. Changing his feed ensured that he was receiving optimal nutrition. Time eating hay with pasture mates now only suited his social needs. My clever fellow even invented a way to more easily dislodge the wads from his cheeks. He dipped his open mouth in water and swirled it about until the quids floated out into the trough. I never minded the extra work dumping the trough everyday because I loved that sweet little guy and was happy he was not in pain.
In a Nutshell
Quidding is a funny word but it is no joke. If your horse is producing quids, your horse has a problem. Take it seriously. Schedule an oral exam immediately. Listen to the advice of your veterinarian or equine dentist and you will enjoy many more years with your quidder.