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Old 12-31-2012, 06:14 PM   #1
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Can't give him a salt block!

Hello forum.

I have a 7-year old Freisian/Perch. cross who treats a salt lick like a lollipop. I've been told that he will eventually regulate his salt consumption, but I can't help but think that that much salt in such a short period of time isn't good for him. Right now he gets about 20 lbs. of nice hay; a grass/alfalfa blend (70/30, respectively) per day in two feedings, some crimped oats in the morning with a cup of flax seed meal and a scoop of electrolytes. I worry that he's missing out on essential minerals without a salt block, and wondering how to supplement his diet to accomodate.

Any thoughts or ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 12-31-2012, 06:36 PM   #2
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Get a loose mineral that can be added daily. Then you just add a tiny amount to his food each day.
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Old 12-31-2012, 06:52 PM   #3
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Why are you feeding him electrolytes?
Unless a horse is sweating profusely in a hot climate, (like on an endurance ride ) loosing electrolytes continuously in sweat, he does not need to be fed electrolytes, which also contain Na
What kind of salt block are you using? You are not using some kind of salt/mineral block bound with molasses,are you?
Horses will regulate their salt intake, which should be free choice
Use just an iodized salt block and a separate mineral block, or loose minerals (not at race mineral, which is mainly salt )
Horses are recommended to be fed loose salt, as there is more of a concern that they won't get enough salt off of a block, as they are more designed for the tongue of a cow.
I very much doubt that your horse is getting too much salt off of a block, unless you are talking of some kind of lick with molasses added (candy )
You are confusing a mineral block, designed for horses, with a salt block, as a salt block does not contain minerals, but rather just salt (NaCl )
Kinda strange that you are concerned over the amount of salt he is getting, yet feeding electyrolytes!!!! The main electrolytes are Na, Cl and K.
I can only assume you are feeding some knid of trace mineral salt block, which are worth not much
My horses get a salt block free choice, plus a mineral block, designed for horses, also free choice

Last edited by Smilie; 12-31-2012 at 06:58 PM.
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Old 12-31-2012, 08:47 PM   #4
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I have had horses over endulge in salt from a block. There is no reason to think a horse will self regulate salt any better than people will. Boredom seems like a key factor, but a horse I have here just seems to go through phases where she feels the need to lick or eat pretty much continously...no idea why.

The risks associated with a horse overdoing the salt aren't the same as people though as long as they have access to water, and usually the excess is just excreted in urine.

I do agree though, that it is very odd that you are feeding electrolytes while concerned about salt intake.

As easy solution would be to only give the horse access to the salt block for a few hours a day. They do not need salt 24/7.
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
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I have had horses over endulge in salt from a block.
. . .
As easy solution would be to only give the horse access to the salt block for a few hours a day. They do not need salt 24/7.
How did you know they got too much salt? Did it cause any problems, or did the vet mention it?

The reason a horse licks and licks and licks and licks . . . is that it isn't getting enough salt. The horse isn't getting as much as you might think. That's why sometimes the horse will scrape the block with its teeth - it isn't able to get enough by licking. Some horses give up on the block because it is too hard on the tongue.

Loose salt in a feeder is another way to feed salt. Sometimes a horse will eat a lot of it at first, but as it begins to get enough, it will slow down.

Feeding a small amount of loose salt but leaving the block available might be a good solution for OP.

The red block includes salt and other minerals. I leave a red one and a white one, and the horses choose the one they crave at the time.

OP, what you were told is correct: he will regulate it. Eating a lot in the short term won't hurt him. And he is unable to get too much from a block. His tongue will get sore long before he's had too much salt.

As Smilie said, just make sure your block isn't one of those molasses things.
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Old 01-01-2013, 02:46 AM   #6
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The reason I feed him electrolytes is because I live in the desert Southwest, and he was already on them when I bought him in August. We had a few very, very hot and dry months. He's a big horse who needs a lot of water, and his coat is black, and we had horses colicking right and left from dehydration. Dehydration is just as much of a risk in winter in this dry climate. The electrolytes encourage him to drink, and I know that he's getting at least a little bit of salt. The salt block I gave him was one of those Himalayan salt blocks, and I also gave him one of the mineral blocks specifically for horses, which is almost gone. He doesn't seem to go after it quite as voraciously as the salt.

I like the idea of giving him some loose salt every day, or giving him the salt lick for a few hours every few days.

Thanks for all the input!
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Old 01-01-2013, 04:03 AM   #7
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electrolytes alone don't really encourage drinking. It is the flavoring in them that encourages the drinking. Find a flavoring he likes and just use that. I usually flavor water with a small amount of pepermint candy that dissolves. This means that my horse will drink water anywhere I trailor them as all the water is the same smell and taste. Except on the trail where the horse drinks out of whatever good water source we come across.
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Old 01-01-2013, 09:00 AM   #8
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Is it just the plain salt & mineral? There are some types with molasses or other things and Dixie will EAT those but the plain hard block she just licks. She also eats the small blocks/bricks more agressively so I get the big field block.
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Old 01-01-2013, 09:51 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmoreDelDrago View Post

I like the idea of giving him some loose salt every day, or giving him the salt lick for a few hours every few days.

Thanks for all the input!
If you do it this way, do both loose salt AND the block. It's already almost impossible to get enough salt licking the block. If he has to do it all in a few hours, his poor tongue is going to get extremely sore!

Salt is what encourages horses to drink!

Do some research and learn about your horse's needs. Here's a start - http://www.equisearch.com/horses_car...olytes-horses/
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Old 01-01-2013, 11:18 AM   #10
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There is danger of horses not getting enough salt, from a block, and not too much, and that is why, as I mentioned and others, it is recommended to feed loose salt to horses, if afraid they are not getting enough salt
Electrolyes keep the balance of those eccencial electroyltes lost in sweating, and have nothing to do with preventing dehydration-horses need to drink, thus if worried about dehydration, I would want that horse to have all the salt he wants, so he will drink.. If he is not continuously sweating, he is not going to be loosing electrolytes
Far as I know
white salt blocks only contain salt
red ones contain also iodine
blue contain iodine and cobalt also, with the iodine being in lower concentration than in red-and why i use blue salt blocks
Brown blocks are trace mineral blocks , and are mainly salt with some minerals, but not enough
Don't know if those Hymalian blocks have molasses added, but that would be the only concern in my mind,, far as having a horse consume more salt than he needs to
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Old 01-01-2013, 01:15 PM   #11
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The Himalayan salt licks do not have molasses in them; they are pure salt.

As with almost any aspect of horse care, there are varying opinions that range from one extreme to the next, and I'm finding that to be very much the case with the use of electrolytes. The research I've done, as well as my own experience with horses for many years, has led me to conclude that supplementing his feed daily with electrolytes is a proactive measure, especially in a very hot and/or dry climate where dehydration is a risk even for a horse who does very little work.

I'm looking in to some mineral supplements and will probably try a combination of a white salt block and free loose salt, and see what happens from there.

Thanks again.
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Old 01-01-2013, 02:21 PM   #12
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The Himalayan blocks shouldn't have molasses in them.

Perhaps he is chewing it out of boredom? Does he gets lots of turnout time and lots of time with hay in front of him?

Or, he is not getting enough salt off the block, thus offering loose salt would be a good idea. Many will add salt directly to grain, but I would offer it loose in a shallow pan in his stall or paddock that he can eat as he chooses.

Electrolytes will prevent dehydration if they are lacking. If you do not have enough electrolytes (such as Na) in a cell, the cell will excrete water in order to maintain proper homeostasis. Usually, this is not an issue for the average human or horse, but in some cases (such as excessive heat and high levels of exercise), drinking large volumes of water with Na does not replenish the body and most of the water is excreted- you could be drinking ample water, but still have a net dehydration. Having more electrolyte than water in the body, will cause water retention.
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Old 01-01-2013, 05:31 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by *Giddy Up* View Post
The Himalayan blocks shouldn't have molasses in them.

Perhaps he is chewing it out of boredom? Does he gets lots of turnout time and lots of time with hay in front of him?

Or, he is not getting enough salt off the block, thus offering loose salt would be a good idea. Many will add salt directly to grain, but I would offer it loose in a shallow pan in his stall or paddock that he can eat as he chooses.

Electrolytes will prevent dehydration if they are lacking. If you do not have enough electrolytes (such as Na) in a cell, the cell will excrete water in order to maintain proper homeostasis. Usually, this is not an issue for the average human or horse, but in some cases (such as excessive heat and high levels of exercise), drinking large volumes of water with Na does not replenish the body and most of the water is excreted- you could be drinking ample water, but still have a net dehydration. Having more electrolyte than water in the body, will cause water retention.
To the OP:

Well, plain salt is NaCl, so why be afraid he is getting too much salt, then supplimenting electrolytes??? That's the big puzzler to me

Here is some info as to when you need to suppliment electrolytes
http://horses.about.com/od/basiccare...trolytesqt.htm

One paragraph


When To Provide Extra Electrolytes

Most horses under a light work load and eating a balanced diet with either loose salt (sodium chloride) or a salt block available will not need electrolyte supplements. But horses participating in sports like endurance riding or eventing may benefit from electrolytes. Some people may supplement with electrolytes during extremely hot weather, when horses are sweating just standing still. But it would be best to consult with an equine veterinarian before doing so.
Provide the Right Type

There are several types of electrolytes formulated especially for horses. Electrolytes made for cattle or other livestock may be unsuitable. Also, electrolytes with a high proportion of sugars are not suitable.
Get Advice From the Pros

If you are planning to compete in a sport like endurance riding get advice from your equine veterinarian and seasoned competitors before administering electrolytes.

Written in consultation with Gayle Ecker, Senior Manager, Equine Guelph Education, Training and Communications University of Guelph, Ontario Canada

Do, yes, give electrolytes if you truly think your horse needs them, but realize that plain salt provides both Na and Cl, so you are wagging the dog at both ends-afraid he is getting too much salt and then giving him electrolytes.
Do you not see the contradiction!!!!!!
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Old 01-01-2013, 06:24 PM   #14
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To the OP:

Well, plain salt is NaCl, so why be afraid he is getting too much salt, then supplimenting electrolytes??? That's the big puzzler to me
Electrolytes provide potassium in addition to the NaCl. I haven't read Smilie's link, but the one I posted explains that horses get more than enough potassium from their hay. That just leaves the need for NaCl, salt.

It also says that intake of NaCl is something that horses naturally do self-regulate, so you do not need to worry about your horse choosing to eat too much of it.
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Old 01-01-2013, 07:11 PM   #15
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Is this a new horse? I've noticed that horses that go from a barn where they don't have free choice salt blocks will crave salt when moved to a place that does.

I'm assuming he will self regulate his salt intake.

I give my horses free choice salt blocks and supplement electrolytes (on their grain) year round. It gets warm enough during the winter that they get very sweaty in their winter coats- especially when the temperature is over 80 degrees. Even with the temperature at 70, the horses will get sweaty on trail rides. It annoys me when people don't clip their horses and come back from a long trail ride with their horse soaked from head to toe and lathered up.

When you live in a very hot climate, it is not unusual to see people give electrolytes/salt year round, unless their horses are not being worked.

It certainly seems to help prevent dehydration when the temperatures drop as well.
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Old 01-01-2013, 08:55 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by mathteacher678 View Post
Electrolytes provide potassium in addition to the NaCl. I haven't read Smilie's link, but the one I posted explains that horses get more than enough potassium from their hay. That just leaves the need for NaCl, salt.

It also says that intake of NaCl is something that horses naturally do self-regulate, so you do not need to worry about your horse choosing to eat too much of it.
yes, and if you read my other posts, I did say that the main electrolytes are Na Cl and K. Done enough of those analyzes stat as a Lab tech, along with CO two levels to know the major electrolytes needed for cellular function and conductivity!
My main point being, makes no sense to force feed electrolytes if worried about salt consumption
Horses loose more electrolytes than might be provided by diet, when they sweat profusely, and why it is common to suppliment electrolytes in events like endurance races
most times, provided there is a balanced diet with free choice salt and minerals available, there is a dynamic balance kept between electrolytes consumed and lost
While water retention in the gut is good, retain too much and you run into things like edema, esp in the lower legs.
Electrolytes, like salt, encourage water consumption, and it is that water consumption that prevents dehydration
I can see where you might wish to give electrolytes year round in a hot country, where your horse is constantly loosing them by sweating, but I don't get it why someone would then be worried about salt consumption
Not arguing whether you should give electrolytes where you live, just don't get it why someone would worry about amount of salt consumed
In fact, here it gets very cold in the winter, so no fear of continuous sweating, but there is a concern that horses will stop drinking, even with open water available, thus I add salt to the soaked beet pulp to encourage drinking. Guess I could add electrolytes instead, but I'm sure that the hay provides enough K a, and I just want an incentive to drink. Prevents impaction colic-that and their ability to move and forage inbetween feedings
I do know when friends hauled to show during July down south, where temps were high, they did as the locals and gave those show horses electrolytes, while they themselves drank gator juice
Salt will prevent dehydration, same as electrolytes-by encouraging the horse to drink. What giving electrolytes does, when horses are sweating and loosing them, is to balance those electrolytes, as adverse body function occurs when they get out of wack-like irregular heart beats , for one.

Last edited by Smilie; 01-01-2013 at 09:08 PM.
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Old 01-01-2013, 09:16 PM   #17
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'Electrolytes are minerals in your body that have an electric charge. They are in your blood, urine and body fluids. Maintaining the right balance of electrolytes helps your body's blood chemistry, muscle action and other processes. Sodium, calcium, potassium, chlorine, phosphate and magnesium are all electrolytes. You get them from the foods you eat and the fluids you drink.

Levels of electrolytes in your body can become too low or too high. That can happen when the amount of water in your body changes, causing dehydration or overhydration. Causes include some medicines, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating or kidney problems. Problems most often occur with levels of sodium, potassium 'or calcium.'
Na, Cl and K are the major electrolytes, and the ones that are analyzed when electrolytes are ordered as a blood test

'Keeping electrolyte concentrations in balance also includes stimulating the thirst mechanism when the body gets dehydrated. '


Here is a very good article that explains electrolyte loss in heavy work, and also hydration, by encouraging drinking. Giving electrolytes without water would do nothing, far as hydration. Horses are able to balance their electrolytes very well from diet, availability of salt, unless they are in strenuous work , where too many electrolytes are lost and the balance can become upset

http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/hrs3175

Last edited by Smilie; 01-01-2013 at 09:29 PM.
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Old 01-02-2013, 03:14 AM   #18
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I also live in the southwest desert, but only feed eletrolytes in the summer if we are doing something that will really get them sweating a lot - a long hot ride or a weekend campout with a lot of riding. Otherwise, I have free choice salt blocks - white and red. I keep the blocks by the water tanks and they usually go back and forth between the salt and water - getting their tongues really wet, I think, as they lick. When they want more, they chew off chunks. One of my mules is a salt-a-holic. She eats it ritually with every feeding - sometimes the white block, sometimes the mineral block. The others are "moderate" consumers.

Since I also provide a balanced feed (Triple Crown Lite), I don't see any need to supplement with electrolytes unless it is in the summer and they are sweating heavily from work, ie: the sweat is literally running off their sides. Otherwise it is normal feeding with free choice salt.

Funny, but in the summer, the rabbits and the birds (doves, sparrows, and finches) also pick at the salt blocks.
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Old 01-02-2013, 09:15 AM   #19
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I doubt he'll learn to self-regulate. I leased a horse once that would eat salt blocks; in one night he ate half of a stall-sized mineralized (red) salt block!! Needless to say his 2 water buckets were empty too, and he was still very thirsty! Given the opportunity, he'd just keep going on it, so we always fed it to him loose in his feed.
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Old 01-02-2013, 09:46 AM   #20
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I doubt he'll learn to self-regulate..
Because you had an extremely unusual horse, you doubt that another horse's instincts will work?

If I really thought a horse was overeating salt, I'd get the vet to investigate, to see if something else was wrong and was causing the craving. (Horses can get too much iodine, which can be avoided by not using iodized salt.) If I were concerned about my horse overeating salt, I would definitely use the salt block rather than the loose salt, and I wouldn't give electrolytes.
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