Once in a while, you’ll come across a horse that has a large appetite for salt. They just won’t leave it alone. Whether it’s salt blocks, salt rocks, or loose salt, some horses just keep eating it–sometimes even biting at it. The question then arises: can a horse overeat salt?
This is a question we have heard from horse owners for decades. We have been in the salt business for a lot of years, and we have yet to see a case of a horse over-consuming salt, although in rare cases, salt toxicosis can happen. Symptoms include colic, diarrhea, frequent urination, and general weakness. A horse displaying these signs should be seen by a vet immediately. Salt is water-soluble, so generally speaking, as long as a horse has constant access to fresh, clean water, the horse will naturally balance salt intake by drinking water and their body will flush it out. Hence on the Redmond packaging, we always advise you to keep water available at all times.
With that said, there could be some downsides to letting your horse constantly binge on salt.
First, the horse’s stall might tend to be messy because increased salt consumption leads to increased water consumption, which results in an increase in urination and a messier stall.
Second, you could be spending more on mineral salt than you need to spend. Just because your horse has a huge appetite for salt doesn’t mean they need all of that savory goodness. Most of that over-consumed salt and your investment will pass through the horse and end up in the bedding or on the ground.
Last of all, horses that spend too much of their day licking salt could end up with a sore mouth – not something we need when we are wanting to insert a bridle bit. Not something we want for the well-being of our horses.
So, what to do with that salt-aholic horse?
Overeating salt can be a sign of boredom. Make sure your horse is getting enough exercise and time to roam. That turnout time can help them find other ways to satisfy their impulse to chew. A toy or another enrichment to their stall may be helpful as well.
You might consider taking away the free choice salt option and changing to a measured feeding of Redmond Rock Crushed. Two scoops a day will do it for most horses with an average level of activity. By daily measuring in the salt, either with the feed or in a pan by itself, you control the amount of mineral salt your pony consumes. This way, your horse gets the salt she needs, and you keep a cleaner stall, save a little money, and have a happier horse…and rider.