Feeding horses salt is something which seems to confuse a lot of horse owners with many not knowing what to do for the best. Especially if your horse is on rest or only does light work. It can be hard to know when you should be adding salt to your horse’s diet and if a salt lick is enough. This is something I have been thinking about recently with Scottie so I have been doing a little bit of research.
Why do horses need salt?
Salt, or more specifically the two major components of salt; sodium and chloride, is vital for a horse to function. Sodium is used within the central nervous system as well as glucose (energy) transport and cell fluid “health.” Chlorine is important for digestion, being an essential ingredient for hydrochloric acid.
Where do horses get salt from?
Forage such as grass and hay will contain both sodium and chloride. Many manufactured feeds we give our horses also contain these minerals. However, without regularly testing them, it is hard to know if they are getting enough salt in their diet. This is why many nutritionists will recommend adding salt to your horse’s diet if they are in work, especially over the summer.
How much salt does a horse need?
All horses are different. But the average 500kg horse will need 10 grams of sodium and 40 grams of chloride a day if they are not working. If they start working, or if it’s a warm day, they will need more salt. This is because they lose these minerals in their sweat. So the more they sweat, the more salt they need.
However, while giving your horse too much salt isn’t an issue as long as they have access to plenty of water. Most horses only need a teaspoon of table salt a day added to their feeds. If your horse is in harder work, up to 3 teaspoons a day should cover their basic salt needs.
What about salt licks?
Many horses have access to a salt lick. These are great to have but aren’t as effective as we would like. The average horse would need to consume 1kg of salt lick a month in order to get all they need and I don’t think many horses get through it that quickly. Scottie has easily had his lick for 2 years if not longer!
Can I feed salt instead of electrolytes?
If you are just looking to make sure your horse gets his daily requirements and is in light work and doesn’t sweat too much, then table salt is fine. However, if your horse does get quite sweaty, he will be losing other electrolytes such as; potassium, magnesium and calcium. These are not found in table salt, so you might want to add an electrolyte supplement to their diet if they are sweating regularly. But bare in mind that many electrolyte supplements are low in sodium, so they aren’t really suitable for ensuring your horse gets their daily requirements.
Salt for Scottie
I started doing all this research as while Scottie is out of work, he is a hot horse who does get sweaty on a hot day, even just chilling out ion the field. I also notice that while he does show an interest in his salt lick, he also licks the floor which is a sign of perhaps needing more salt. So after my research and having a chat with Baileys Horse Feeds, I have decided to start adding table salt to his daily feeds to help with his daily requirements of salt. I will also look at different electrolytes available. While I won’t be feeding them daily, when we are having hotter weather and when he is back in work and getting sweaty, I will add it to his feed to make sure he isn’t lacking in anything.
You may have seen that I have been taking part in Cherry Tree Training’s Core Essentials course. This 4 week course is broken down into 3 weekly workouts what you can do at home without any gym equipment, just some floor space. I have loved the course and I love that even though I have finished it, I still have access to all the exercises.
Easy to fit into a busy week!
One of the best things about this course is that each workout is fairly short so it’s easy to find time to fit them into even the busiest week! I think the longest workout of the entire course was around 30 mins. But most are around the 15-20min mark and this includes a warm up and cool down.
Not too hard!
I am one of those people where if something is too hard, I quickly lose motivation to do it. But this course has been put together so that there are variations on most of the exercises so that you can make it harder or easier, depending on what you are working on and how you are finding it.
Helps you identify your weaknesses
Because the course ranges in exercises and moves between strength and movement, you can quickly identify where you are weaker and where you are stronger. So once you have completed the course, you can focus on repeating the workouts what focus on your weaknesses.
I found in the course that I struggle to hold the static movements. So a plank I find quite hard work. But adding movement to the plank such as leg and arm lifts or moving in and out of downward dog seems to be easier for me. So I am using these moving exercises but building up the holds within the flow.
A post shared by EquiPepper (@equipepper) on Jul 13, 2019 at 10:18am PDT
Plenty of help
Each time the course runs it only has limited spaces. This is because if you are having problems with an exercise, you can get one on one help. If you want to check you are doing an exercise correctly, you can send them a video. If you are finding an exercise particularly hard on your wrists, you can message them and ask for advice on how to relieve the strain. They are super helpful and really want to see you improve!
I have loved giving the core essentials course ago and will keep using my favourite exercises to help get my core ready for eventually getting back in the saddle! I am also looking forward to some more of the equine related courses coming out too!
If you are interested in giving these courses a go, I do have a cheeky 10% off code what you just need to enter at the checkout! Code: 197026_WSGAEDBE
Earlier this week I lost my Border Collie Tally. She had been a member of our family for nearly 15 years and I am sure that my younger brother and sister will struggle to remember a time when she wasn’t in our lives. I would have only been 10 when she came into my life.
But sadly earlier this week it was her time to take the trip over the rainbow bridge. I am lucky to have had her in my life and I believe she had a great life with us. She was a rescue who had a very rocky start to life, finding us when she was about 8 months old and had already had multiple homes. From all of this she certainly came with her own mental baggage.
Over the years she made it clear that no matter how many hours I spent building jumps and obstacles in the garden, she was not interested in agility! She came on hundreds of walks, visited multiple beaches, hours of family car journeys and family holidays. She loved a game of fetch and was playing football and cricket in the garden until the very end.
She has left a big hole in our family and will be so missed. But today I remembered an old quote I found and I just wanted to share it with you. It’s a young boy explaining why dogs don’t live as long as people after having had his dog put to sleep.
““People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right? Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay for as long as we do.””
Sorry that I continue to be a bit quiet, but with Scottie out of action I have been finding it hard to not only think of things to write about, but also the motivation to write it. I don’t want to write articles just for the sake of it as I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t be very good! But anyway, back to the point of this post, there is a bit of an update on Scottie!
On Friday Scottie came in from the field looking very sore. Where he had been about 1/10-2/10 lame beginning of the week, he was looking more like 4/10-5/10 on Friday. I gave the vets a call hoping I might just catch my vet before he left for the day but I went straight through to the out of hours emergency vet.
I had a quick chat with her about how he was looking and that he had recently had steroids etc. She said to keep him in the stable over the weekend and give her a call back if he got any worse. She would then pass all of the information onto my vet for him to give me a call back on Monday.
When I spoke to my vet he said that we basically had two options, we can carry on with the injections or we can try resting him. All along I have said I am not in a rush and that Scottie’s insurance will cover the injury until the end of the year. So I asked what he thought was best. Since the steroids hadn’t worked, it suggests the tendon might still be injured after all. So while the steroids would take away the pain, they wouldn’t help the tendon heal, meaning rest would be the best option.
So Scottie is having pen rest until the end of the month where we will have another look at him and go from there. However, if he keeps escaping from his pen, I will have to box rest him until the end of the month. So hopefully he stays put for both our sakes!
Unfortunately, without sending Scottie for another MRI, we can’t know for sure what the tendon is doing. So we may well send him for another before the insurance runs out. But for now he is chilling in his pen with plenty of hay and a treatball to hopefully stop any escape attempts.
Early this year there was an outbreak of equine flu, with even the racing industry temporarily cancelling all racing until they could establish how widespread the issue was. There were calls for everyone to make sure their horses were vaccinated and give them a booster if they hadn’t been vaccinated in the last 6 months.
5 months on and the risk is still high, with new cases of flu being reported every month. There have already been at least 5 cases diagnosed this month and we are only on day 5! Two of the horses diagnosed this month have been vaccinated within the last 6 months.
I have seen a lot of people complaining on social media about having to vaccinate there horses every 6 months to be able to compete at their local venues, their argument being that it doesn’t stop horses catching flu. But all the vets have said that the more recently your horse was vaccinated, the less symptoms they have, meaning your horse is more comfortable.
It seems like this strain of flu is going to be around for a while yet and while the vaccination alone may not stop your horse coming down with flu, are you comfortable letting your horse suffer if you could have done something small and easy to prevent it?
Scottie had a booster in February, even though he was lame and out of work. Next month I will need to think about giving him another one. While he is still out of work and certainly won’t be out competing any time soon, I will be giving him another booster. Because several horses on my yard are regularly out competing and could easily bring something back with them, despite me trusting their owners to follow good bio security procedures.
Just because equine flu isn’t often serious in a fit and healthy horse doesn’t mean you shouldn’t want to do everything you can to protect your horse from it. After all, they will be uncomfortable and distressed and will likely be lacking performance for a while after recovering. If a simple vaccination can make them more comfortable and help them return to their best quicker, why wouldn’t you?
If you haven’t given your horse a vaccination in the past 6 months I highly recommend talking to your vets. Many of them will say if you aren’t out competing and there is much movement of horses on your yard that you probably don’t need one. They aren’t just trying to steal your money!
So Scottie was on 2 weeks rest after his steroid injection with the hope of him being sound afterwards and ready to come back into work. But in true Scottie fashion, he has been feeling better and didn’t listen to the whole rest part.
In the past week he has galloped laps of his pen, escaped from his pen and once the pen was opened up so that he could get into the shade at the end of the field, he jumped the fence back into the pen! So I wasn’t surprised to see that he wasn’t sound when I looked at him at the weekend. I think there might be a slight improvement from when he had the injection, but there was still some lameness there.
So I spoke to the vet this week, explaining what had happened and basically asking what he thought to do next. He didn’t seem too worried about him still being lame as he said the steroids should still be in his system for another 2 weeks or so. Which hopefully means they might still work.
He also said that even if we want to take the next step of injecting the bursa, we have to wait until these steroids are out of his system first. So Scottie is having another 2 weeks rest in the field. He doesn’t need to be penned, in fact the vet said it’s better if he isn’t penned as at least we will know if he has improved from restricted movements or due to the steroids.
So while this isn’t the outcome I was hoping for, the vet still sounded quite positive so I’m not giving up yet! (Although I am finding it quite hard to keep thinking of things to write about!) Fingers crossed there will be an improvement after another 2 weeks rest. And if not, we still have one more treatment option before thinking about resting or more scans.
If you follow us on social media, you may have seen that I have finally turned my back on straw and have started using cardboard bedding from Bedkind. I have been using it for about a week and a half and so far I really pleased with it.
In the past I have had Scottie on shavings and I absolutely love them! But at my yard we can’t have wood based bedding, so I have been limited to straw based bedding. I have tried various brands of chopped straw and standard bales of straw and I just hate it.
I never would have said that Scottie was a dirty or wet horse. But on straw he certainly is! It’s horrible to muck out and it’s not unusual for me to lift his bed to find a puddle of wee. It also stinks!
Scottie has also had an on and off cough since being at this yard. Since the cough disappeared when we went away, taking the hay with me, but remained if I was at home and soaked they hay, I thought it might be the bedding causing the cough.
Scottie also likes to eat his straw bed. Some nights he would hardly touch his hay but half of his bed would be gone in the morning. So for multiple reasons, I hate straw bedding and was looking for something new to try.
Cardboard seemed like a good thing to try as we are allowed it, it’s dust free and can be good for wet horses. So after seeing another girl on the yard using it and getting on well, I decided to try it for myself.
The main reason I went with Bedkind was that it was the brand the girl at the yard was using. But after a bit of Facebook research, I found that not all cardboard bedding is dust free or absorbent. But several people were really pleased with their Bedkind bedding.
The second reason is that I live in their free delivery area! So with my introductory discount for signing up to their newsletter, it worked out at about £5.50 per bale to have a pallet delivered. Perfect!
We have quite big stables at our yard and I only have rubber mats at the front, so I decided to use 6 bags of the cardboard bedding to get started. Halfway through moving all the bedding around I thought that maybe 5 bags would have been enough! But it is always nice to have a slightly bigger bed than you need, especially when trying a new bedding.
How am I finding it?
So far I am loving it! The mucking out is really easy. The poo comes away from the cardboard really easily and the wet stays in nice patches at the bottom. I think your horse would have to really dig the bed up to spread the wet around.
If I spend a bit more time sifting through the bed, thoroughly separating the wet and clean I take out less than half a wheelbarrow. But on a standard muck out, digging up all the wet but not taking my time, I take out just over half a wheelbarrow. This is about on par with how I do on shavings and half of what I take out on straw!
The cardboard is quite light, so if your horse moves around quite a bit, you might have a lot of buried poo. Scottie doesn’t move around too much, but I usually have 1 or 2 buried poos a night. But they are fairly easy to find and remove.
The only issue I can see you having is that if your horse is really messy and tramples mess everywhere, your bed might get damp and heavy. Scottie has a spot right at the front of his bed where he poos while eating and stands in it. I end up removing this small patch as it’s easier than trying to separate it all. But it’s only a small patch, 1 foot square ish. However, if your entire stable looks like this it might not be a great bedding for you!
Finally, I have only put in 1 extra bale so far and the bed is still looking good, so I am hoping I can stick to 1 bag a week. I also haven’t heard Scottie cough in the past week. So it will be interesting to see if his cough returns or not.
We’ve all been there, you are looking at the race card and you have no idea where to put your money. So you use the age old trick of picking the horse with the best name, nicest silks or based on the jockey. But a recent study has found that you will make more money on average betting on the female jump jockeys.
The university of Liverpool has been keeping data from the last 5 jump seasons and found that the girls out performed the boys. This is based on the number of wins to number of starts ratio as well as the odd on winning and placed horses.
Cheltenham festival this year was a huge success for female jump jockeys. The girls only had 9.3% of rides at the festival, but were responsible for 14.3% of the wins! This season the racing industry has also been working on improving the perception of female jockeys, showing more features on them during race coverage. The Irish documentary Jump Girls also aired earlier this year, highlighting the success of female jump jockeys.
However, despite the great performance of female jockeys and the industry doing more to help recognize women in the sport. When it comes to placing a bet, horses with female riders tend to have higher odds than if they were to have a male jockey. While this shows that there is still a negative perception of women’s ability among the public, it does mean that you can get more for your money if you support these amazing women with your bets!
When I was visiting Paris Dixie last week one of the men who help buy and manage the horses said something along the lines of “the horses who enjoy their food and put on weight tend to be the better horses.” I thought this was very interesting as thoroughbreds have a reputation for being really hard to keep weight on. But is there anything to suggest foodies perform better? And could this explain why thoroughbreds have a bad reputation?
Do Foodies perform better?
Before I can look at why horses leaving the racing industry have such a bad reputation for being hard to keep weight on, I wanted to look at factors why horse foodies might perform better.
Foodies are more chilled out
Firstly, one thing I have noticed over the years is that horses who enjoy their food and put weight on easily, also tend to be calmer and more chilled out. I really don’t know why this is, it is just an observation I have made. But I think it might simply boil down to when most animals (or people) are stressed or anxious, they are too busy worrying to think about eating. So maybe horses who are naturally more anxious are less interested in food.
A good head is a good horse
Another thing said at the visit last week was that while we all like to see a horse with a bit of spark, too much spark is not a good thing.
I remember a demonstration with Charlotte Dujardin where she was saying that she liked a horse with a spark for training. Her reasoning was that training dressage is trying a new aid and the horse giving you a response. You then repeat the aid until you get the response you want. A quirky horse is more likely to give a reaction to that aid which you can then work with.
However, in racing things are a bit more straightforward and the general consensus is you want something what stays level headed and gets on with the job.
Foodie = Chilled = Better?
So if you can say a chilled out horse is better suited for racing and that horses who enjoy their food tend to be more chilled out, it’s not a stretch to say that horses who enjoy their food perform better.
So why do thoroughbreds have such a bad reputation for keeping weight on?
Thoroughbreds are considered some of the best athletes in the equine world. Not only do they dominate the racing world, but they are used in many sports horse breeds to improve their qualities. Around 35% of the Hanoverian genetics come from the thoroughbred. If being able to put condition on is a key factor in performance, why do they have such a bad reputation for this?
Where are the underweight winners?
Think of all the famous and fantastic racehorses you can. Other than being racing fit, how many of them would you say looked a bit lean? I personally can’t think of any. Even the long distance chase horses are covered in thick muscle and look fantastic. And then once they retire and head off to stud, they grow bellies and look incredibly. Sometimes even verging on crossing over to the fat side. These horses obviously have no problem putting on condition.
Poor Performance Retirement.
The main reason for a horse retiring from racing is due to poor performance. Keeping a horse in training is very expensive. So if the horse isn’t performing well, then many owners decide to retire them, either to stud or to have a non racing career.
So if we consider the idea that horses which are foodies are good doers and tend to perform better, then it makes sense that horses who are not performing as well are more likely to be retired. The bad reputation of the thoroughbred is something which exists outside the racing industry, mainly among the ex racehorse population.
So maybe their bad reputation in the wider equine community is purely due to the fact that the ones which leave the industry have left for not being good enough, possibly due to not being able to keep condition on well.
Explains the exceptions
This idea would also justify the thoroughbred freaks like Scottie who get fat off of air! If a breed as a whole was known as being hard to keep condition on, it should be rare to find one who keeps the weight on well. But if a horse being a good doer is a factor in their performance, it makes sense that you would see less of these horses outside the racing industry.
This post is almost entirely just my opinion and ideas based on what these people said and the visit last week. I do believe there is some logic in there which would make sense and explain some things. But it certainly isn’t fact, just an interesting idea.
What do you think about the idea of foodies being better performers? Do you think it might explain why thoroughbreds have a bad reputation outside of racing?
Okay I am going to own up straight away and admit that I am slightly obsessed with Love Island. I’m not claiming it is award winning TV and I am a bit ashamed of how much I enjoy it… but it is perfect watching with a glass of wine in the evenings! One thing I have noticed from watching Love Island is how it is a bit like the horse industry.
Swap the contestants for horses!
We know what horses are like, they are fickle! While they love their field buddy, their head is easily turned as soon as they find themselves coupled up in an uncomfortable situation with a brand new single horse!
It doesn’t matter if they have only met the single horse briefly once before. You can pretty much guarantee that if you take them out together to somewhere new, like a show, they will be glued to each other! Much like how the islanders are all over each other moments after re coupling.
Searching for the perfect partner!
Much like the Islanders, when you are looking for a horse you are looking for the perfect partner. You will have your checklist and will be looking for a horse who checks all those boxes – your type on paper. On this journey you will probably have to ride a few frogs, have someone else graft and steal the horse you wanted and may even have your head turned by something completely not your type.
Then once you finally find the one, you will have ups and downs and challenges to put you both to the test. Although hopefully this won’t involve spitting food into each others mouths against the clock…
For some serious advice on finding your perfect equine partner, check out our step by step guide to buying your first horse.
Considering your options
You’ve had a bad ride. Your horse was a total nob and you can’t help but notice that flashy show jumper across the yard. You sit back and enjoy the view, watching them make the course you just struggled round look effortless. You might feel your head turning!
But we all know that when you go back to the stable and see your horse waiting expectantly for his dinner, your heart will melt all over again and you will stay loyal and stay coupled up. Although luckily polygamy is perfectly acceptable when it comes to horse ownership. So if your head is turned, you are free to crack on and your horse will probably love having a new friend.