Last Updated on February 23, 2022 by Allison Price
My grandson was washing a stall when he asked me why his horse was so salty. I didn’t want to answer, so I asked him questions. He said that horses need salt and could they get enough from a mineral blocks.
Salt is essential for horses’ proper nerve and muscle function. Horses need about 10g of salt daily. Horses that sweat a lot need more sodium than those who are sedentary. Horse salt is not provided by mineral blocks.
Horse owners sometimes ignore basic nutrition principles and neglect their horse’s salt intake. This can lead to poor performance and adverse health effects.
This is the first article in a series that I wrote about horses’ nutritional needs. The previous article was entitled “What do Horses Eat?” The Equine Nutrition Guide explains the basic information you need to properly feed your horse.
Subscribe to Horse Racing Sense
Receive updates from Horse Racing Sense directly to your inbox.SUBSCRIBE By subscribing, I consent to receiving emails.
Salt is essential for horses
Horses become thirsty from salt (sodium chloride). They need to drink water to replenish their losses and keep their bodies functioning well. Horses who don’t get enough water can become dehydrated, leading to a host of health problems.
Salt is made up of two minerals: sodium and chloride. Each one of these minerals plays an important role in the health and well-being of your horse. The proper functioning of muscles and nerve impulse travel are all dependent on sodium. It also aids in digestion.
Essential nutrients are also absorption dependent on sodium. The action of chloride is to move carbon dioxide from tissues into the lungs. It also helps maintain a healthy blood pH.
It is essential that you know what kind of salt your horse needs and how much. Different horses will require different amounts of salt.
The amount required depends on your horse’s activity level, your local climate, and your animal’s overall fitness.
Salt deficiency symptoms in horses
A horse can become deficient in sodium chloride which can cause serious health problems. A horse that is deficient in sodium chloride may show these signs:
Horses can become dehydrated when they lose too much water. Horses can become seriously ill from dehydration. This condition must be treated immediately.
Horses lose the most water through sweat. Horses sweat to cool themselves, and they can lose a lot of fluid if they are working hard in hot conditions.
Dehydration can also be caused by animals that are sick with fever or diarrhea, or if there is no water supply. Most often, dehydration can be treated by giving water to your animal and electrolytes.
Reduced muscle coordination
Sodium, an ion, is a compound that reacts with water to conduct electricity to nerves. It helps muscles function well. Horses lacking the right amount of salt can have trouble walking, muscle twitching or spasms.
The horse will appear stiff and trembling after exertion. Horseman terms for this condition are “tying up.”
Hypervolemic Hyponatremia is a condition in which salt levels are significantly lower than the body’s water content. Hypervolemic hyponatremia can be treated with electrolytes via IV.
Eating habits that are not healthy
Horses that are deficient in sodium chloride might start eating strange foods. It could be a sign that your horse is hungry for salt if he starts to lick foods that have trace amounts of salt.
Biting the bark of trees, licking dirt or rocks are some examples. This behavior is not necessarily a sign that the horse is not getting enough minerals.
Equine anhidrosis refers to horses’ inability to sweat. Anhidrosis can occur for many reasons, including a lack of appropriate minerals. This disease is more common in horses that are athletic and live in hot climates.
If your horse isn’t treated for a mineral deficiency, it could lead to weight loss, insufficient milk production in lactating horses, lethargy and stunted growth.
How to decide the right amount salt for your horse.
To meet its essential maintenance requirements, a 1,000-horse standard requires two tablespoons of salt per day throughout the year. High-performance horses require more sodium chloride because they sweat more.
Horses can have problems if they are exposed to too much sodium chloride.
Salt poisoning or salt toxicity is a condition in which a horse does not drink enough water to compensate for a high sodium diet. It usually occurs when horses refuse to drink rancid water, or are unable to find water.
Salt poisoning can also be caused by horses who are fed incorrectly-formulated feeds, or animals that are not used to high-salt diets. Salt poisoning can affect the central nervous system, the GI tract, and cause blindness, seizures, paralysis, and even death.
Salt forms for horses
Horses receive sodium chloride in hay and pasture grass. Salt licks can also be added to their feed. Mineral supplements are required because silage and hay don’t usually provide enough.
Salt blocks are used extensively to supplement horses’ nutritional needs. Salt blocks are usually placed in a stall, or in an area where horses can easily access them. A rope can be used to hang small salt blocks from a rope. This will make it easy for your horse’s reach.
Horses have a smoother tongue than cattle and salt blocks don’t give them much mineral. While it works well for horses, most horses can’t lick a salt block to replenish their losses.
Stall horses can become bored and lick the salt block, which could lead to toxic effects.
Salt your dishes with a lot of salt
It is better to give salt to your animals loosely. You can control how much you add to your animals’ feed and ensure they get their daily vitamins.
You can also find mineral supplements or electrolyte supplement without salt. Make sure you read the label and follow the instructions before using any product.
You can also provide loose salt free of charge in a pasture feeder. This ensures that your horse has easy access to sodium chloride. Supplements may be needed by horses who spend most of their time grazing.
What is the best salt to use for horses?
As I said, horses are not likely to lick a salt block in order to meet their salt needs. Our protocol is to give our horses loose salt and to have a white salt block for them to lick if they feel the need.
Are mineral blocks good sources of salt?
Mineral blocks are not suitable for horses’ daily salt requirements. They don’t provide adequate amounts of salt to animals who have a smooth, smooth tongue.
Horses are individual animals, so your horse may prefer a mineral block. It is made up of over ninety per cent salt and additional essential minerals.
You must make sure your horse is getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals.https://www.youtube.com/embed/_FItV8ecsac?feature=oembed
How can wild horses obtain salt?
Because horses are able to adapt to their environment, they have survived thousands of years of harsh conditions. Horses can get salt from different places depending on their habitat.
Horses can live near saltwater beaches. Horses in this area lick salty surfaces to satisfy their daily needs.
Horses can also obtain minerals from plants that contain trace minerals. They may travel great distances to find saltier places.
Horses require sodium chloride to ensure their bodies function properly. Horses that don’t have the right amount of salt can become lethargic and tie up. Sprinkle salt over the horse’s food to add sodium chloride.
Two tablespoons of mineral per day is enough for a typical horse.
I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!