Aspects like age, breed, activity level, season and underlying health issues all affect the way an owner needs to care for a horse. Some equines are kept more like pets and are prone to weight gain and their diets will need adjustment for the decreased activity level. Other horses may be quite clumsy and get cast in their stall easily or will need you to keep a special eye on their self inflicted wounds.
Most horse owners know that a hydrated horse is a healthy horse, but how to keep a horse hydrated is not always fully understood. Here are four common myths when it comes to hydration:
Myth #1. Your horse will lick any salt you put out for him
Most horses are more picky than our 6 year old. If he doesn’t like the salt block you have put out for him, and it doesn’t taste good to him, he won’t lick it.
He won’t lick it even if he needs the salt, needs the electrolytes or needs the minerals. In fact most blocks are an industrialized man made lick, and many horses just won’t lick them. Instead of using common mineral blocks, choose a natural mineral rock, such as a Himalayan from Pakistan, or even better the Redmond rock mined in the USA. This will get them to lick regularly again, help get their minerals naturally, and give them a true trigger for hydration.
Myth #2 A mineral block will give him all the minerals he needs
The man made mineral blocks available for cattle and horses usually have about 6-8 minerals, (check the ingredients list on the label). A natural salt rock like Redmond Rock, on the other hand, has 60 plus minerals. These minerals, direct from an ancient sea, are in the correct quantity and balance for your horse. With these rocks, most horses do not need additional supplemental minerals especially if they are getting a quality hay/alfalfa mix and enough fresh water.
Myth #3 A horse can lick all the salt he needs from rocks and blocks
A lot of us have very hard working horses. They may be training and competing in vigorous events such as cross country, roping and reining, barrel racing or endurance. These high exertion disciplines demand a lot from our horses, and, with the summer sun, drain them of vital electrolytes.
In these conditions your partner cannot get all the electrolytes and salt he needs from licking. Unlike the tongues on cattle, horses tongues are more sensitive and after a certain amount of licking, he will get sore and stop licking. In order to be sure your hard working horse is getting the salt and minerals he needs, give him an ounce of natural crushed rock, such as Redmond Rock Crushed, in his feed daily. This will give him the replacement salt and minerals he needs and ensure he is hydrating well at the same time.
Myth #4 Horses will drink if they are dehydrated
Unlike humans who will drink when they are thirsty, horses need a trigger to drink. Without salt available, some horses don’t get that trigger, and may end up dehydrated, causing a number of issues including compaction and colic. Give your horse a natural rock or crushed salt to ensure they are drinking regularly and stay well hydrated.
These tips aren’t absolutes, there are lots of variables. There is always a horse out there that will prove us wrong in anything we believe about them, but what we’ve outlined in this blog post will work most of the time. Leave a comment below and let us know what works for you.