Salt and Horses

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Your horse sweats more during the summer, making electrolyte supplementation worth considering. But electrolytes alone will not protect against dehydration. Your horse needs to have enough sodium, which is found most commonly in salt. Sodium is the main electrolyte found in the blood and the fluid surrounding cells. If sodium levels are low, the blood will not hold enough water, causing the adrenal gland to release the hormone aldosterone, which tells the kidneys to not let any sodium leave the body.

When the kidneys hold on to sodium, they excrete potassium in its place, creating an imbalance.  This can promote or aggravate conditions such as anhydrosis (lack of or inadequate sweating), tying up (a muscular disorder resulting in stiff and/or trembling muscles after exertion), and a rapid heart rate. It can also cause the horse to avoid drinking water as the body seeks to keep from flushing away sodium. Decreased water consumption also puts the horse at risk of impaction colic.

 

How Can My Horse Get Salt?

There are two ways to get salt in to your horse.  The first way is to add plain white table salt to their grain ration.  This is the most effective method because a) you will be able to know exactly how much your horse is getting and 2) unlike the tongues on cattle, horses tongues are more sensitive and after a certain amount of licking a block, he will get sore and stop licking.

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Although salt blocks are not really meant for horses, some seem to really like them.  My horse in particular is a salt fiend and will bite chunks off of the salt block (you do have to be careful with this as you don’t want them to choke). If you choose to leave a salt block out for your horse(s), make sure it is in an area out of precipitation and the sun. The blocks tend to hold any temperature very well and can heat up very fast.  What better way to discourage a horse from licking a salt block than to burn his tongue when he does go to try it.  Watch this video to see just how hot the blocks in the sun can get.

 

 

Salt blocks also hold the cold very well so for an extra treat on those hot days, try putting out a block that has been kept in the fridge (not too cold though!) And remember to always ensure that your horses have access to enough clean, fresh water.

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July 22, 2016 |

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