I would like a teaspoon of salt added in my feed.

Salt is something I have started adding to both my horses feed since my mare Cheyenne suffered an impaction colic on July 6, 2015.  With winter upon us, we know how important it is that our horses drink water.  This simple little teaspoon of table salt might just do the trick to encourage your horse to drink more through winter and all seasons.

Cheyenne colic #1.jpgCheyenne colic #2Cheyenne colic #3

It was a beautiful 4th of July day when Cheyenne and I were invited on a fabulous trail ride a few miles away from our barn with 5 other friends.  It was warm out, mid 80’s, and just a simple walk, when I noticed Cheyenne seemed to be sweating more than normal and seemed winded.  In horse terms- she just seemed off.  The day before, hay was delivered to my barn.  Cheyenne has 24 hour access to grass pastures, but she also enjoys her hay.  I gave her some flakes of hay and she never moved from the spot.  It is likely she never took a drink the entire time eating hay and due to the hot temperature outside she was sweating, causing her to become dehydrated.  The day after the ride I noticed significantly less manure piles in Cheyenne’s pasture.  This is important for every horse owner to be aware of.  What is the normal amount of manure for their horse?  I continued to monitor Cheyenne that whole day as I was suspecting an issue.  Cheyenne had no interest in food, totally unlike her, and she seemed lethargic.  She was not laying down, or pawing, or showing other colic symptoms.  The next day there were no piles of manure, so Cheyenne was taken to my veterinarian for impaction colic treatment.  She did great as I had caught the issue fast, but she still needed to be tubed.  I learned that this mare needs a teaspoon of salt added to her feed to encourage her to drink year-round.  Even with a fresh water trough and salt and mineral blocks in her stall, she doesn’t hydrate properly for her own good.


The horse has a complex digestive tract which includes a relatively small stomach (about the size of a football), a very long small and large intestine, and a cecum that contains fiber-digesting microbes. Given the length of the tract, it makes many turns to fit into the abdominal cavity of the horse, and also changes in diameter periodically. These turns and diameter changes provide locations where dried feed and foreign substances may get caught, blocking the flow of digestion through the tract and causing an impaction. If the impaction is not released (relieved), gas may be produced, which distends the tract, ultimately producing pain, or colic.
When it’s cold, horses are not inclined to drink as much especially from cold or frozen water buckets. They are not grazing on fresh grass, which is about 75 percent water, compared to hay, which contains less than 20 percent water, so to compensate, horses may need more water to maintain a correct and natural digestion.  Both my horses have a 16 gallon heated water bucket in their stall and on super cold days I bring out 2 gallons of hot water for them.
 Cheyenne winter hayheated bucketsalt
If you are concerned your horse isn’t drinking enough in the winter, supply a heated water bucket and a teaspoon of salt in their daily feed this winter.  It may make a difference.


Categories: Horse Sense | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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