My Horse Keeps Eating his Himalayan Salt Block: Is He Okay?

An equine nutritionist explains how to ensure your horse gets an appropriate amount of salt.
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Q: My horse goes to town on his 7-pound Himalayan natural salt block that hangs from a rope. Is there a point at which he can be ingesting too much salt?–Jean Goeltz, Freehold, New Jersey

A: Horses are usually good at regulating their salt intake based on need, but some horses simply like its taste and will consume more than they actually require. This normally isn’t a problem, provided the horse has access to plenty of fresh water (which helps flush the excess sodium and chloride) and doesn’t have any kidney problems. That said, for horses that do consume more salt than most, I usually recommend not offering a free-choice salt source and, instead, adding salt to their feed.

Most horses need about 50 grams of salt per day, and while some is likely already included in your commercial concentrate feed, you can add a tablespoon (15 g) or two as needed depending on the rest of your horse’s diet and requirements (based on body weight, workload, or production level).

The type of salt you choose should also depend on requirements (visit with an equine nutritionist, extension agent, or veterinarian to discuss your horse’s specific needs) and what else is in the feed. Plain (white) salt is fine if your horse only needs sodium and chloride (and iodine if feeding iodized table salt), but I might suggest a trace mineral salt if your horse isn’t consuming other supplements or feeds

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Written by:

Shannon Pratt-Phillips, PhD, received her Master of Science from the University of Kentucky and her Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Guelph, focusing on equine nutrition and exercise physiology. Pratt-Phillips joined the faculty at North Carolina State University in 2006, where she currently teaches equine nutrition in the Department of Animal Science. She is the director of the Distance Education Animal Science Programs, which includes the Master of Animal Science program, and her field of research focuses on glucose metabolism, insulin resistance, obesity, and laminitis prevention and management in horses.

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