I bought an OTTB gelding back in August. Everything with this horse has been going great but I am concerned over 1 issue, he goes through a 2lb Himalayan salt lick about every 2 weeks (on a rope in his stall). He is turned out all day (8-7) on grass. He is on beet pulp and blue seal sentinel LS and fed a mix of 1st and 2nd cutting hay. He is in good weight, nice coat, feet are good. Does he just really like the salt? Should I take it out of his stall every other day? Can too much salt be harmful? I haven't seen any negative changes in him, but compared to my other horse who goes through her salt lick in about 8 months I am starting to worry.
I only feed white salt. It has NO additives of any sort. Therefore it never interferes with their current diet.
Too much of red salt can cause issues, and I think the hima block also could too.
What happens is maybe the horse likes the shape, taste, or needs one mineral or no minerals in the block and then the horse overdoses by licking it so much. So then you are feeding him the extra minerals in his regular feed, and/or he is eating it in his pasture and/or hay and/or the water he drinks, so therefore you have an overdose situation.
I had a horse od himself on the red salt block. QH. I figured it out, and removed it and he got better. He started to itch, and lose his fur coat.
This is why I feed only a white block only. And no, a horse can not lick too much of a white salt block. If so, they drink water. There are no issues of high blood pressure in a horse.
My horses love salt. I have the big blocks, and then left over pieces of the block in their feed bins, or I get salt bricks, break them up and put in their feed bins.
The hima rocks look nice, but I wouldn't want my horses licking one just because it tasted good, looked good or ?? to the point of them getting too much of one mineral.
Salt toxicity is rare in horses and usually occurs when they eat a lot of salt and don't have access to water. I agree with MSwillie be sure your horse has plenty of clean water all the time.
If you are feeding the manufactures recommend amount of BS feed plus good hay and pasture your horse is probably getting all the minerals he needs. Horses don't have "nutritional sense for minerals", in other words they don't realize they are lacking a certain mineral like P or Ca or Mg and then go seek it out. Horses will however seek out salt when they need it.
I tend to stay away for trace mineralized salt (which Himalayan salt is) for just the reason you are talking about, over consumption. I have had horses get in the habit of chewing on salt blocks out of boredom. I would try replacing the himalayan block with another toy and then hang a regular white salt block on the wall. If he needs the salt he will lick the plain salt block and as long as he has plenty of water, he should be okay.
My horse did the same thing. Went through like 5 salt blocks in 3months, the next one lasted about 3months, and the one after that has lasted 4months so far and is only about 2/3rds gone. I noticed his water consumption and pee spots followed the same pattern--when he was eating all the salt, he was drinking more and peeing more, now it's a more manageable amount. I think they binge on it a bit to start, and then when they realize it's going to stay around, it loses it's novelty and they just supplement what they need.
It would be interesting to see if these ravenous salt-eaters slow down when they are fed electrolytes.
On a related topic, do you waste a lot of Himalayan salt? What do you do with the chunks left over after it won't stay on the rope any more? I try to turn it to get even lick-age, but I still end up with a lot of useless chunks. No sense in leaving them to get kicked around the stall so they just get thrown out. (But yes I still buy it because my horses like it ... *sigh*)
"You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." - The Little Prince
I had a mare that was a salt fiend. Worst thing is that it also meant she drank a lot of water and her stall was a wet, stinking mess. Vet said that all of her salt eating was a management problem, i.e., the nasty stall, not a health problem.
My QH gelding wiil. not. touch. white or red salt blocks EVER but will lick on the Himalayan block happily. I have wasted more brick blocks and finally tried the Himalayan. I have it in a holder next to his feed tub and he will lick on it for a few minutes after his meal. I guess he goes through a large block every couple of months.
FWIW: When I bought my mare and took her home from the track, I put a cribbing collar on her to stop her from cribbing (at the request of other barn boarders) and hung her a himalayan salt lick. She stopped cribbing, and replaced it with chewing the salt lick all day. (It was a race track habit, she's now a good deal happier due to some management changes) I consulted with my trainer and we decided it was a rediclous amount of salt and a possible overdose of trace minerals, and I removed the lick. I now do a half scoop a day of Apple-A-Day electrolyte by Finish Line, and my mare is doing well.