HANDS ON

EQUUS - - Equus -

• Pass the salt • Built-in bug con­trol • Get your horse’s shine on • Ship­ping boots

In ad­di­tion to shade and a source of fresh wa­ter, ev­ery sum­mer turnout space needs to have a salt block. Horses lose large amounts of the essen­tial min­eral in their sweat, and if it’s not re­plen­ished, an elec­trolyte im­bal­ance may de­velop, lead­ing to low blood pres­sure or even neu­ro­log­i­cal or car­dio­vas­cu­lar prob­lems.

For most horses, a shared salt block in a turnout space is suf­fi­cient; herd mem­bers will take turns lick­ing it as needed.

The type of salt block you pro­vide—plain, min­er­al­ized or a fancy, im­ported va­ri­ety—isn’t as im­por­tant as the fact that it’s avail­able. It is crit­i­cal, how­ever, that you only pur­chase salt blocks specif­i­cally la­beled for horses. Those in­tended for other species, such as cat­tle, might con­tain ad­di­tives or nu­tri­ents that are un­safe for horses.

You can also pro­vide salt blocks in in­di­vid­ual stalls, but avoid putting them di­rectly into feed tubs. This can re­sult in overly salty feed that the horse is un­will­ing to eat or the en­trap­ment of moist feed un­der the block that then mold­ers in the sum­mer heat. In­stead, use a smooth-edged salt block holder, se­curely mounted on a stall wall.

If a horse is work­ing very hard in hot weather, he may need ad­di­tional salt in the form of an elec­trolyte paste or pow­der. Your vet­eri­nar­ian can help you de­ter­mine if your horse needs ad­di­tional salt, as well as the best method for pro­vid­ing it.

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