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For the Horse Who Has Everything

©  2010 Cherry Hill
www.horsekeeping.com

Is there is a special horse on your Christmas list that you would like to thank in some way for his enjoyable partnership and devotion to duty?  If so, show that you really appreciate him by choosing something that a horse would enjoy.  Pass up the reindeer antlers and choose something from this, a horse’s Christmas wish list.

As you might suspect, with horses, food items top the list.  If you have several horses, you can wish them all happy holidays with a truck load of carrots.  Some farms sell a pick up load for $100 or so delivered.  If you have a cool shady place to store them, they will likely keep until the last one is fed.  Carrots provide a welcome diversion to the horse’s normal ration and can be a healthy reward for good behavior.  Carrots are an excellent sources of carotene, the precursor to Vitamin A. Vitamin A is usually the only vitamin that ever needs to be supplemented in a horse’s diet.  If a horse is not receiving green sun-cured hay, he may not be getting adequate carotene.  If a truck load is not an option, then set aside the $$ to buy large bags of carrots or apples, especially affordable if you belong to a buyer’s club like Sam’s.  If you’re on a tight budget, you’d be surprised at how many perfectly good (for horses) carrots and apples are thrown away by grocery stores every day.  Make friends with your local produce manager and arrange to pick up goodies for your horse regularly.

When the temperature dips, oatmeal makes a healthy and warming breakfast for you.  Likewise, at the barn, during cold weather, your horse might relish a hot grain mash.  It takes a little practice and some testing to see what grains and mash consistency appeal to each horse.  Don’t think of wheat bran as the only choice for a mash.  In fact, wheat bran, fed on a daily basis, can be detrimental since it could add too much phosphorus to your horse’s diet.  There should be no such problem if you only feed wheat bran once a week.  But also experiment with mashes made from rolled oats, sweet feed, cracked corn, barley, shredded beet pulp, a handful of molasses or a pinch of salt, some oil or chopped apples or carrots and you are on your way to satisfying your horse’s culinary pleasures (or at least enjoying the benevolent feeling you get from trying!).

Measure and mix the dry ingredients the night before and bring them to the house in a pail. When you put the water on for your tea the next morning, boil some extra water for the mash. Usually a 4:1 ratio of grains to boiling water is satisfactory for most horses.  It is best to err on the dry side rather than the mushy side.  Stir as you pour the water.  Let the mash steep in a warm place for about thirty minutes, preferably covered so it can steam.  Check the temperature and serve.  Take a mug of hot tea out to the barn for yourself, find a warm corner to sit and then listen to the contented slurpings of your appreciative buddies.  And know that beside the nutritional benefits, a mash during cold weather can provide your horse with the needed moisture he might be reluctant to sip from a cold bucket.

Swirl a candy cane in your horse’s water pail?  This is not just a frivolous holiday act but can have a practical application.  Peppermint oil is one substance that can be used to disguise water for the horse that is often “on the road” and will be offered different types of water to drink. Using an aromatic and tasty substance in his water while he is both at home and away, may be the best gift you give a reluctant drinker.

A tasty treat that doubles as a pacifier for the a horse that is stalled during cold weather is a molasses grain block.  Sold across the country under hundreds of local feed mill labels, these blocks should be considered as an occasional supplement to the horse’s normal diet.  Under most feeding circumstances, they are unnecessary, but horses dearly love them.  Comprised of grain products, molasses and minerals, the forty to fifty pound cubes have a wonderful smell and a texture that entices horses to both lick and chew them.  Similar products are made for sheep and cattle, but contain a synthetic source of protein called urea which horses can’t utilize.  For horses, it is important to purchase the “premium” horse version which contains protein from plant sources, such as soybean meal.  Most horses appear to enjoy these large “candy bar blocks” and, in fact, some horses are determined to finish an entire block all at once.  If your horse falls in this category, you will have to roll the block out of his stall or pen each day and only let him have access to it for a limited period of time.  Be sure he always has adequate water available, as even the small percentage of salt in most of these blocks will increase your horse’s thirst reflex – which is a good thing during cold weather.

Probably the next most popular request on a horse’s wish list is his desire to be allowed to be a horse.  Many horses like nothing better than to nose around a pasture inspecting roots and sticks and tracing recent equine history.  From observations, it seems like a roll in the mud or the snow is hard to beat on the equine list of all time favorite recreational activities.  Contrary to our guidelines, horses see nothing wrong in being dirty or having their manes flop over to both sides of their necks.

Depending on the type of winter management that you follow, you may wish To Groom or Not To Groom.  A pasture horse, left to his natural devices, grows a thick protective coat and further seals his skin from wind and moisture by accumulating a heavy waxy sebum at the base of his hairs. Horses that are turned out for the winter should not be extensively groomed, lest you inadvertently remove your horse’s valuable oily protection.  The best gift for the pastured horse is to let his waxy layer stay intact (no vigorous currying), let his coat be fluffy (not smoothed down by brushing) and to offer him shelter from wet weather or piercing winter winds.

If your horse would be more comfortable with a winter blanket, be sure to choose a waterproof, breathable one that can be easily laundered so you’ll perform that task when necessary.  Read the two articles in the Horse Information Roundup that relate to winter blankets to help you choose and use a winter blanket properly.

The stalled horse that is in work not only appreciates but requires vigorous grooming.  A special Christmas session might include body stropping which is an isotonic muscle exercise.  You can use a cactus cloth or a wisp for the stropping.  It’s a vigorous exercise which includes pounding the large muscle masses of the neck, shoulder and hindquarter with moderate pressure which stimulates circulation and then casting off waste products with a sweeping motion.  Massage your horse’s legs with your hands using a circular motion toward the heart.  Massage your horse’s head with an ear rub for the finale – inside and out ending with a slight pulling as you slide your fingers off the tips of your horse’s ears.  Be forewarned – horses given such a body rub are likely to melt in a puddle!

If the cold weather has kept your horse in and he is lonely, he might appreciate a stall companion.  Some friendships just happen and do not have to be arranged.  Cats, chickens, lambs and dogs have been known to voluntarily take up quarters with a compatible horse. The daily treks and routines of both horse and companion provide interest and comfort for each other.  Pigmy goats and other pets or small livestock can sometimes be successfully transplanted in a lonely horse’s stall.

As we know, the holiday season is not complete without family and friends.  And so it is with equines.  A real treat, especially for a stalled horse, is to be turned out with a favorite (compatible!) companion.  There is nothing quite so joyous as two buddies ripping and tearing in the paddock, playing all the bucking and twisting games that are so important in the horse world.  Even though mutual grooming can mess up a lovely mane, it provides unequaled satisfaction and contentment for a horse that is starved for socialization
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If you feel you must give an actual present to your horse, perhaps an innovative stall toy is the answer.  Designed to wile away the hours and discourage wood chewing and other vices, stall toys can channel pent up energies toward  non-destructive play.  Commercial models are often huge rubber balls but a gallon milk container can works too.  Experiment with hanging the toy from various heights.  Note that if your horse becomes obsessed with playing with a toy, you may see some undesirable changes in the curvature of his neck so monitor how he plays and what height is optimum. A variation on this idea is giving a horse a sturdy beach ball to play with in a small paddock or indoor arena.

Horses are appreciative when we make their work easier and more comfortable.  One way to do this is to make sure he is shod for balance, comfort and safety year round.  A consultation with an equine veterinary specialist or a master farrier may turn up some helpful ideas regarding your horse ‘s shoeing.  Besides checking for proper break-over and flat landing, you may be introduced to new ways to provide safe footing for winter riding.

Another way to make a horse’s work easier is to become a more physically fit and athletic rider. Give your horse the gift of becoming a more effective rider.  Promise to stick with the suppling exercises that help you to mount smoothly and ride more fluidly.  Lose a few pounds to ease his burden.  Strengthen your body and become a working member of the team, not just a passenger.  Make a New Year’s Resolution to take some riding lessons to improve yourself so that you are a better member of your horse-human team.

Finally, let your horse luxuriate in some peace and quiet.  Offer him a comfortable place where he can doze or lay without distracting lights and noises.  Let him sigh and whinny in his sleep and wake when he’s ready.  Peace.

 

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Horse Weight

©  2011 Cherry Hill   © Copyright Information

saddlebred horse

Hi Cherry,

My name is Johanei and I’m from South Africa. The horse I’m leasing is a saddlebred and her weight doesn’t look to good for me!!

She’s 15.3 hands and weighs 385kg.

I really hope you can get back to me because some of the ponies are starting to weigh more than she is. She also has leg problems and the owner says she won’t be able to carry the weight which I don’t agree with. Please please please reply Enjoy you day and thanks for everything you do for horses.

Johanei

Cherry Hill's Horsekeeping AlmanacDear Johanei,

Did you read this article on our website? It gives you complete guidelines to evaluate a horse’s condition: Correct Horse Weight

Hi Cherry

Yes I did read the article and I still think her weight isn’t right. She had Colic a while ago and the lady didn’t even let the vet come and she stopped giving her the food she use to get and she only fed her hay.

Even if shes a saddle bred, I asked one of my older friends that knows a lot about horses and she told me she’s too bony.

Please reply. Johanei

Dear Johanei,

For other readers, 385 kg is about 850 pounds. You say the horse is 15-3 hands tall. It would be hard to imagine a horse that tall at that weight, NOT being underweight.

The guidelines in the article indicate that the horse is underweight and your knowledgeable older friend agrees that she is underweight, so my best answer is that from what you are telling me, the horse is underweight. Without seeing the horse in person, I can’t say for sure how MUCH underweight, but I’ve never known a horse at that height and weight to be in healthy flesh.

Horse Health Care by Cherry HillSince you are leasing the horse, you have certain legal rights as outlined in the lease and one of them might be your right to have a veterinarian look at the horse. In that way you can have an unbiased third party determine if the horse is underweight, how severely, and what should be done about it.

It is good that you are concerned about the horse. You need to get a professional involved and the best bet would be your veterinarian.

Best of luck,


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Good Afternoon!

I am a newly developed horse lover and I just wanted to say I read your book “Cherry Hill’s Horsekeeping Almanac”. It was very informative and I enjoyed your insight.  In our Public Library that’s all we had on you and your books.  The horse selection is very old and few on the shelves here.  In the next few years I plan on having a career, or owning a few horses myself.  Thank you so much for writing the book and living the life you wanted.  Your an inspiration to me and all horse lovers a like.  Keep up the great work! Marilyn S.

 

Cherry Hill's Horsekeeping Almanac

 

Hi Marilyn,

Thanks so much for taking the time to write.  I’m so glad my Almanac has helped inspire you to continue to reach for your dream.  I’m happy to share what I have been fortunate to experience and learn about horses and their care and training. The Almanac, which was published in 2007, was a perfect medium to be able to paint the whole year round picture here at Long Tail Ranch.

And thanks also for your encouragement to keep up the work ! The art of writing is applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair and sometimes that keeps us writers out of the saddle more than we like ! But there are several new books in the works – one which I am just finishing up the final touches on and will be out in a few months.

I’ll post information about the new books when they become available or you can visit Chronology of Books and Videos by Cherry Hill – the newest ones are at the top of the left column.

Keep working toward your dream and best of luck to you,

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Hi Cherry,

I rescued two horses- a large Fell pony and a mini. Both had been abused and were starving. I’ve got their weight up, their hooves cared for, shots, worming etc.
But it has been almost 3 months and they are still very hard to halter, to clean their feet ( both have thrush) and to separate them to work with them ( just the simplest ground work in a nearby round pen)! When I have someone else, we can work it out fairly well but usually I am alone. I have few expectations, maybe short rides or a little pulling a cart ( both had some draft experience) – I’m now 65, and even though i had been a horse professional teaching in riding stables, training and judging in dressage,  I’m having an awful time with them. I need encouragement to keep them. It has been very expensive and wonder if others have rescue horse experience. Eileen

HI Eileen,

Just in my email box this morning was an article from The Horse which states that

Each year there are about 100,000 unwanted horses in the United States, too many for the registered equine rescue and sanctuary groups to handle, according to a recent survey by experts at the University of California, Davis. They found that the 236 registered rescue and sanctuary organizations could only help about 13,400 horses a year.

I have no personal experience with rescue horses but wanted to post your note so that if others want to reply, they can do so here.

I do know that retraining any horse can seem like it takes twice as long as it does to train a horse from scratch. Some of my colleagues say ten times as long !

When I taught in college and university equine programs, one of the ways we would get horses for the training and riding classes was through donations. Well, we received some wonderful horses and also some with interesting previous experiences and challenging behaviors. Some took several semesters to sort out and even then, might not be trustworthy with novice riders.

I do encourage you and applaud you for your efforts. It will take time, repetition and very frequent regular handling to alter their suspicious behavior. But it can be done.

Please refer to the many useful articles here on this blog related to ground training, desensitization and more. Here are some examples:

Head Handling

Horse Training – Handling, Gentling, Desensitization, Sacking Out, Flooding

Horse Behavior – Licking and Chewing

Also visit my Horse Information Roundup where I have posted hundreds of free articles related to behavior and training.

Best of luck and let me know if you have specific questions.

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Dear Cherry,

I recently learned that I was the new owner of a couple of horses. One a pony and the other a brown and white horse. The pony has been broke before. The big horse has not. We have land for them to roam and water and plenty of food for them. But I have never owned a horse and would like to most definitely learn. I just don’t know how to approach this situation. How should I begin this process?

Thanks, Salvador

Hello Salvador,

Well, you have a most exciting adventure ahead of you.

First of all, although you can learn a lot from the internet, books and DVDs, the best possible advice I can give to you is for you to find an experienced, trusted horse owner or trainer/instructor in your area who can help you get started. For example, you will need to find a farrier and a veterinarian and an experienced horse owner/trainer/instructor in your locale so you have people to contact.

101 Horsekeeping Tips DVDAn experienced horse owner will be able to take a look at your fences and pastures and give you an opinion as to if their suitability for horses and if your pastures provide enough of the right type of feed. Even if you have wonderful pastures and water, you will need to provide the horses with salt and mineral blocks. Horses should have access to salt at all times.

Horsekeeping On A Small AcreageAs far as taking care of the horses on your land and managing your fences and buildings, I’ve written a book specifically for that. It is called Horsekeeping on a Small Acreage and discusses all you need to know as far as the care of the horse on your property.Horse Health Care by Cherry Hill

Horse For Sale by Cherry HillWhen it comes to specific health care skills such as feeding, deworming, vaccinations, hoof care and so on, you can ask your farrier and veterinarian to help you somewhat and you can also refer to Horse Health Care and Horse Hoof Care.

Now when it comes to handling the horses, ask your experienced new friend to help you assess what the pony and the horse know and what they need to learn. Then you can make a plan as to how to proceed from day to day. It is probably best for the horses and your safety for you to have help with both the pony and the horse until you have developed the confidence to handle them on your own. I have posted much information on my website about ground training, manners and so on which will be very helpful to you. And I’ve written many books on all levels of training. You can look through a complete list of books by topics in the Book Barn.

Once you get started, you will have a hundred more specific questions, so feel free to write again.

Best of luck and be safe,Cherry Hill horse trainer and author of 30 books and DVDs

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Where is the summer going ??!! I can’t believe August is nearly half gone.

But no matter what month of the year, we horsekeepers are busy ! Here are a few things pertinent to August here on Long Tail Ranch.

These are excerpts from my book Cherry Hill’s Horsekeeping Almanac.

©  2010 Cherry Hill © Copyright Information

Cherry Hill's Horsekeeping Almanac

Dental Work

Fall is a good time to have routine dental work completed: floating teeth, removing wolf teeth if necessary, and removing retained caps. Because a horse’s upper jaw is wider than the lower jaw and horses chew from side to side, as their molars wear, they form sharp points on the outside of the upper molars and the inside of the lower molars. To keep these sharp points from cutting your horse’s tongue or cheeks as he eats, they should be filed (floated) regularly with a special file called a float that attaches to a long handle.

At the same time, your vet can remove caps and/or wolf teeth. Caps are temporary premolars (baby teeth) and molars that have not completely dislodged even though the permanent ones have erupted. In between dental visits, monitor your horse to determine if he needs more frequent visits.

Here are some sign of necessary dental work:

    • Bad odor from mouth
    • Quids (wads of food around feeding area)
    • Feed falling from mouth during eating
    • Weight loss
    • Sharp points

Remove a Loose Shoe

Use the following procedure to remove a shoe that has become bent, dangerously loose, or has rotated on your horse’s hoof. Necessary tools include : clinch cutter, hammer, pull-offs, and crease nail puller.

  1. Using the chisel end of the clinch cutter, open the clinches by tapping the spine of the clinch cutter with the hammer. A clinch is the end of the nail folded over; this needs to be opened so that the nails can slide straight through the hoof wall when pulled without taking large hunks of hoof with them.If the shoe has a crease on the bottom, you may be able to use the crease nail puller to extract each nail individually allowing the shoe to come off.Nails with protruding heads can be pulled out using the pull-offs. If you can’t pull the nails out individually, then you will have to remove the shoe with the pull-offs.
  2. After the clinches have been opened, grab a shoe heel and pry toward the tip of the frog.
  3. Do the same with the other shoe heel.
  4. When both heels are loose, grab one side of the shoe at the toe and pry toward the tip of the frog. Repeat around the shoe until it is removed.Never pry toward the outside of the hoof or you risk ripping big chunks out of the hoof wall. As the nail heads protrude from the loosening of the shoe, you can pull them out individually with the pull-offs.
  5. Pull any nails that may remain in the hoof.
  6. Protect the bare hoof. Keep the horse confined in soft bedding.

Blister Beetles

Four to six grams of blister beetles (whole or part, fresh or dried) can kill and 1100 pound horse. That’s because they contain cantharidin, a toxic and caustic poison. There is no antidote. Research has shown it is the striped blister beetle that is the source of cantharidin.

Typically, blister beetles will appear after the first cut (mid June or later) and disappear by October, so usually first cut and last (late 4th) cut hay is safer than 2nd or 3rd cut. Blister beetles tend to cluster in large groups often in the area of 1-2 bales but hay growers know that if left alone after cutting, most blister beetles evacuate the field. You need to know your alfalfa hay grower; ask him what he did to eliminate blister beetles in the field.

Buy only first cut or October hay. Inspect alfalfa hay before you buy and again before you feed.

Protect Riparian Areas

Riparian refers to the vegetation and soils alongside streams, creeks, rivers, and ponds. These are precious areas that can easily be damaged by horses.

Manure, urine, overgrazing, destruction of trees, and the creation of muddy banks all can lead to less vegetation, warmer water temperatures, more algae, less fish, and decreased wildlife habitat. Monitor and limit horses’ access to natural water sources so that a natural buffer zone of grasses, brush and trees is preserved around the edges of ponds and creeks. This buffer zone is essential for filtering nutrients from excess runoff before it enters the water.

Choke Cherries

Choke cherries are ripe during August. Although horses don’t eat the berries, the leaves are poisonous to horses and the berries attract bears.

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I have a mare that just recently decided that she will eat grass and by golly she will eat! She’s my first horse and I’ve owned her for two years now and we just moved her to our own property about a month ago.
I’ve been training her, as she hadn’t been trained very well and I can’t figure out how to make her stop.  Every time I go out for a ride she throws her head down and eats.  No matter what I do I can’t bring her head up, and if she does, then it goes right back down again.  Riding her has become a fight that I can’t really win and she’s no longer a joy to get on.  I don’t want to be cruel and tug on her mouth and kick or use severe corrections, because I know those just put fear into the horse.
I would really appreciate it if you could give me a pointer or two if you have time.  Thanks for reading this!
Katie

Hi Katie,

You can approach this situation with ground work or when you are riding. In either situation, make sure the horse has just eaten her full feed of hay and any supplements or grain she gets. Or if she is a pastured horse, be sure she has had her usual time on pasture.

For example, our horses are turned out for 12 hours overnight to graze. When we lead them out to pasture in the evening, if I would stop on the way to the pasture in spot with lush grass, it wouldn’t surprise me if my horse would start salivating and looking at that grass with an intent to dive down and grab some. But in the morning, when I jingle the horses, the last thing on their minds is to eat grass on the way back to the barn. They’ve had their fill.

So as soon after your horse finishes eating, begin your training session. You will have better chance for success on a full stomach.

First a few pointers and tips.

If you don’t feel confident doing this yourself, ask for someone to help you. Sometimes just the confidence of having someone nearby will help things go better. And its a good safety precaution.

If you feel unable to perform these exercises in a grassy area, first practice them in the arena or a pen just to get your timing down.

I suggest you review all ground training exercises to see where your horse’s strengths and weaknesses are so you can build on her strong points and work on improving her weak areas. You can see an In-Hand Checklist here.

I’d start out with ground training. I’d outfit the horse in a rope halter and you could consider putting a grazing muzzle on the horse for the early lessons. A grazing muzzle will prevent your horse from eating even if she DOES get her head down. You see, each time your horse even snatches one blade of grass when she dives down, she has rewarded herself for her behavior. Each time she does this, it becomes a more deeply entrenched habit, one that will require more persistence on your part to change. So if you can first eliminate the reward, no grass, even if she does dive down, she won’t get the grass !

How to Think Like a Horse by Cherry Hill

How to Think Like a Horse by Cherry Hill

Now you have several choices as to how you want to approach this.

1. Establish rules as to when a horse can and can’t eat elsewhere and then here. Like you train dogs to wait until you give them a bowl of food, teach your horse to wait until you give him the signal to approach his grain. You’ll need to develop a clean distinction between when it is fine to eat and not eat. You should be able to dump grain in a dish on the ground and your horse should wait until you give her the signal it is OK to move forward to eat. You should also be able to back your horse away from that dish while she is eating.

2. When the horse is most likely to snatch grass, be ready to give the horse something else to do. When she starts to lower her head, make her move forward right away – if ground training, send the horse out on the longe line. If riding, use your method to get the horse to move forward – use as little as you need to get the job done but as much as it takes from leg pressure to clucking to kicking to a tap with a whip to spanking across the hindquarters with a rope. The object is to get the horse to move her feet forward and raise her head. As soon as she does, stop your cues.

3. Whether you are ground training or riding, when a horse starts to dive down, turn the horse rather than pull straight back on both reins. Pulling back or up doesn’t accomplish much more than isometric arm exercise for you and banging on the horse’s mouth ! Instead turn the horse one way or the other. When riding this is best done in a snaffle bit, a side pull or a bosal using a leading rein. Bend the horse and send him forward at the same time and once you gain control, “bait” him again by giving the horse a slack rein.

4. As with many training situations, when you are riding a grass snatcher, you must always be “on” – always ready to react.

101 Longeing and Long Lining Exercises by Cherry Hill

101 Longeing and Long Lining Exercises by Cherry Hill

Best of luck and let me know how your horse training program progresses.

Cherry Hill

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Copper Dun wrote:
Can a horse eat too much of the plain stable salt? Will it affect their coronary health as it is purported to do in humans?
Good question and cute play on words “stable salt” !
The answer is yes. Does it happen often? Well yes and no.
In the vast majority of cases, providing a horse with free choice salt blocks satisfies the horse’s salt needs. If a horse exercised heavily and frequently, he likely might not take in enough salt from a regular salt block. Options then include providing loose salt or adding salt to a horse’s feed. Both of these methods need to be planned carefully and monitored closely.

The way a horse could eat too much salt is if the horse is housed in individual quarters and is provided with a supplement block or mineral block, such as one with protein, molasses, or other flavor enhancer to carry the calcium, phosphorus, salt or minerals. Some horses gobble up these blocks, literally, eating a 40 pound block in a matter of a day or so. In a case like this, the horse has ingested excess salt and other nutrients. It might indicate that the horse and/or the horse’s ration is lacking in salt or a certain mineral OR it could, more likely, indicate that the horse just has a taste for the flavor enhancer or carrier in the block. Rescue and underweight horses might chow down on salt and mineral blocks at first if they had been deprived of those nutrients through neglect. With a block gobbler, the best management is to only allow the horse access to the block for a few hours each day and remove it for the rest of the time from the pen, stall or pasture. In these few situations, free choice is not a good thing.

Overeating of salt doesn’t happen very often with plain white salt blocks that are just sodium and chloride. It is usually the opposite – horses don’t get enough salt. But if a horse is housed and fed individually and you find his white block disappearing quickly, you might want to use the same tactic described above and also confer with your vet.
Another way a horse can get too much salt is if you add too much salt or electrolytes to his grain ration (perhaps in an attempt to give a hard working sport or performance horse the proper balance or electrolytes). Know what you are doing and confer with a nutritionist before force feeding salt or electrolytes.

If you pasture your horses and have only a few horses yet find the white blocks disappearing, it could be due to wildlife grazers (deer, elk, antelope) sharing the block with your horses.

Too much salt often leads to a higher water intake, frequent urinating and/or a loose stool.  As far as excess salt being a coronary risk factor? I have no information or knowledge to answer that.
Hope some of this is helpful and come and visit again with more questions.
Cherry Hill

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It is starting to get hot, yes, even here in the foothills of the Northern Colorado Rockies. The horses are sweating more, drinking more and eating more salt.

Horses should have access to salt at all times. I provide each of my horses with two salt blocks. One is a plain white salt block that is simply table salt; sodium chloride. The other is a calcium/phosphorus trace mineral salt block. It is sometimes called a 12:12 block because it contains 12% calcium and 12% phosphorus or an equal ratio of calcium to phosphorus, which is good for most adult horses. Each of my horses shows a preference for one block or the other but all choose different blocks at different times.

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Dear Cherry,

I’m confused by all of the deworming rotation plans out there. Can you help me find the right one? Thank you, Betty


Dear Betty,

You and your veterinarian need to determine what is most appropriate for your horse’s parasite control program. The next step is knowing what to use and when.

Well that answer will depend on your climate and what types of parasites you are targeting. The rotation programs that you have probably seen assume that you need to deworm for all parasites and that deworming has successfully rid your horse of those parasites. However, you might find, through fecal testing, that your horses don’t ever have certain parasites OR that even though you deworm regularly for strongyles, for example, your horses still have a strongyle problem.

With that in mind, realize that the rotation programs you will find in your vet catalogs or on line might likely be highlighting certain products, whether you need them or not. In fact, if you search “deworming rotation” at http://www.google.com most of the results on the first page are recommendations from vet catalogs. They list products by brand name rather than by ingredient and give little information as to why you should use a particular product when. But even among experts, there are various opinions of what you should use and when. The best rotation plan is one that takes into account your climate, the density of the horse population on your farm, and fecal test results.

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