Dear Jessica, I have wondered about this for a long time and am curious as to whether there is a reason for this behavior. I have several horses that urinate directly on their hay, purposefully and intentionally, while out in the pasture (with others). Are they 'marking' it for some reason? I can't imagine they'd want to eat it after this though! I have seen both mares and geldings do this. You are such a wealth of information and I was hoping you could give me some insight. Thanks!
As for horses urinating on hay in pasture, I can offer two reasons. I've seen many horses urinate on their hay for both - I'll let you figure out which one is more likely.
Reason #1: The horse is commenting on the quality of the hay, or on its preference for another sort of hay - or for the pasture grass. Some horses will urinate on hay to show their displeasure with it.
Reason #2: The horse is looking for a soft/absorbent place to urinate. Horses hate to splash their legs with urine, and will go to great lengths to avoid this, always looking for a non-splashing surface if they have any choice. This is why some horses will not urinate in a trailer, even on a long trip, unless there is a layer of shavings on top of the trailer mats or floor. If the pasture is frozen hard or baked hard by the sun, horses will typically look for a suitable place to urinate - and sometimes, that means on the pile of hay that they weren't interested in eating anyway.
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