I regularly come across posts on social media where horses have really runny poo, leaving a horrible mess around their bum and they are looking for suggestions on how to deal with this. These suggestions can range from putting cream around their bum to stop the runny poo from sticking to them and causing irritation, to suggestions on how to prevent them having runny poo in the first place.
Daily vs Occasionally
If your horse has runny poo, do they have it all the time or is it just now and then? This is important as it can help tell you what the cause is. If they are having this every day, it suggests there is something in their diet causing the runny poo. Whereas, if they only get it occasionally, it could be due to a virus or a change in the grass etc.
First things first, what does your horse eat? Some types of food are known to cause runny poo in horses. These include:
- Sugary treats such as; carrots, apples, polos, licks
- Spring/New grass
If your horse has runny poo regularly, the first thing I would do is remove sugary treats from their diet to see if this helps. If cutting out the treats doesn’t work, switching haylage for hay and changing to a chaff with less alfalfa can be enough to get a horse’s stomach back under control.
Scottie can be quite sensitive to sugar and alfalfa. A high alfalfa diet gives him very green poo and too much sugar gives him runny poo. Because of this he has hay and a low alfalfa, low sugar chaff. While he still gets sugary treats, I am careful to reduce his sugar intake when the grass starts to grow as this can really upset his stomach!
There are some great gut balancers and supplements out there and I regularly see them suggested as a solution to this problem. While I think they can be the answer for many horses, I think you should look at changing their diet first before adding a supplement. The diet change might solve the problem, saving you money in the long run.
Managing the Mess
If your horse only has this occasionally and you are already doing things to manage the problem, you might find it easier to manage the mess rather than prevent it completely. This is what I do with Scottie.
Keep their bum and legs clean. When the spring grass comes through Scottie needs to have his bum washed at least every other day. It doesn’t always have to be a wet wash, sometimes a good brush is enough.
Some horses have really sensitive skin and can get quite sore from the mess runny poo leaves behind. So after cleaning the area you might want to apply a barrier cream of some sort. Not only can this help heal any sore bits, but it can also stop more runny poo sticking to them and causing irritation.