Saturday, March 6, 2010

Questions About Salt

I don't know if this was my problem or not, but I started thinking that since my salt block has trace minerals and selenium, when my horses feel like they have enough selenium they might stop licking it, thus limiting their salt intake. Does anyone have experience with this or thoughts?

I've been worried about Red's lack of water the last couple of days which, though he's not as sucked in now, he's still not back to normal. I put him out with the rest of the herd after breakfast. He'd eaten all of his wetted-down-flake of alfalfa and Allegra Senior, and was resting in the sun. I thought it might be good day to let him out with the others. I can pretty much tell if he's drinking enough water at this point by looking at his flank, and I'll lock him back up at dinner so that I can monitor everything else through the evening.

So, I went to Big R to get supplies today and picked up some plain salt blocks so they can have a choice of either. When I threw it in there for them, Red immediately came over and started licking it. Maybe I'm on to something here. Maybe I've unintentionally limited their salt intake!!

Kara, at Must Love Mustangs, did an experiment one time with mineral licks--she had one each of every mineral in a specially built container. The horses had access with the thought they'd take only what they needed. Hmmmm...could this be the same case with the selenium salt block?!?

I asked you all about the outdoor arena a few days ago and learned a lot from your answers. I learned that I want a permanent arena. The idea about keeping the footing in and the aesthetic issue really convinced me. However, it also made me think I'm not ready to build one yet. I don't know how I want it, and it's too big an investment to jump in unprepared.

In the meantime, since I need an enclosed space to ride C'Ya, I'm opting for a portable/temporary system, size 120x96. This will give me time to experiment and learn. Since it's portable, I can move it, rearrange it, and when I'm ready for a permanent one, use it in some other capacity around here (you ALWAYS have use for panels) or sell it. I need to figure out how big I eventually want it, where I want gates, what type of footing, what height I want the rails, how many rails, how high the bottom board should be, and many other things.

While we were buying supplies we went ahead and invested in the panels for a 120x96 riding area. (I won't actually call it an outdoor arena at this point) I went with a panel called Behlen since it matches the Powder River panels we already have. They seem to be pretty well made--6 rails, powder-coated, 64" high--and they were only $75.00/panel with the volume discount.

My husband just left to pick them up. I'll post a picture when we get it finished. Here's a picture of the panel for now.


  1. We use plain white salt blocks, and a balancer pellet that includes minerals and vitamins, including selenium, designed for our part of the country - our soils are low selenium. And our insulin resistant horses get a chromium/selenium/vitamin E/magnesium supplement. My mare who has had two impactions also gets plain table salt (uniodized) added to her feed to be sure she drinks. We also use heated buckets in the barn and tank heaters outside so the water is somewhat warm - some of our horses don't do well with cold water. Keeping fingers crossed for Red.

  2. The barn where Cody is now has automatic waters so it's hard to know how much he is drinking but so far he seems to be alright. He's a drinker, had one of those big muck buckets for his water bucket back in Washington and it had to be topped off daily because if it got too low he would dump it out and decide it was a toy.

    I have Behlen panels that were Cody's initial pen panels and I really liked them. The one thing with the chains though is it's easier for the panels to get out of shape so I got some butterfly clamps to use instead and that worked well.

    Good luck with your arena!

  3. I think you are on to something with the salt block. Horses won't use a salt block enough to get what they need out of them, in terms of selenium and other minerals. My horses won't use a selenium block at all, so they wouldn't get the salt they need. I give them their vitamins and minerals in a supplement and their salt blocks are plain. Loose salt could be even better, if you can keep it out of the rain and keep them from dumping it out. Mine always dump it out.

  4. Yes I agree with Andrea, I worked in feed stores for 8 years, and learned a lot. Horses tongues are not roughe enuogh to get what they need from salt blocks, they were designed for cows. What I learned was to give horses loose mineral salt, or salt, that way they get what they need, and a good vitamin supplement. Its better not to have salt with selenium if you are feeding a vitamin sup. with selenium. Fun stuff huh LOL.

  5. We use a mineral salt block. We feed a vitamin/mineral supplement with selenium in it. Our selenium levels are really low where we live, but have to be careful on how much they get. Too much is dangerous.
    I like your idea about going for the temporary arena for now. Great idea! I love my panels, and maybe some day when I can afford it, I can put up permanent fencing. But for now it is great cuz I really needed a round pen and was able to move the panels around to make one!
    Hope Red continues to improve!

  6. hi linda! need to get to the po this week...looking forward to the book! : ) i use the himilayan salt that i can hang on a rope and the horses love it! my horses tended to ignore the other types of salt blocks. these are smooth and hard to bite on though blue loves to play with his!

    your first commenter is very correct in that some horses will not drink if it is too cold. i always give warm water in the winter since it will cool down quickly, blue loves his warm water! also it is like us drinking some tea or coffee that is warm...makes you feel good inside! : )

  7. Thanks for all the great comments! I've learned a lot by reading them. I really like the idea of a balancer pellet or supplement. I'm going to have to look closer at what everything I'm giving them has--like the Allegra Senior, for instance--I wonder what levels of selenium are in it. I've never really thought about any of this in detail until now. That will be my focus for the next couple of weeks. What am I actually feeding my horses?!?!

    I like the idea of giving them real warm water here and there. Our automatic, heated waterers keep it pretty warm, but I'm not really sure how warm. I should take the temp one day and see about that, too. And, of course, since they're automatic, like Froglander, I never know how much they're drinking.

    Thanks for the ideas about the panels--I have some butterfly clamps left over from a round pen we had a long time ago. We're going to go out today and finish it up--ran out of sunlight yesterday.

  8. I use fence panels for a riding arena as well as pens for the horses. I found that if there were more than three in a row between corners they wouldn't hold their shape. My solution was to pound t-posts in the ground and secure the t post to the fence panels. Worked like a charm.

    Check into a supplement called Millenium Gold. Here in AK the hay is majorly deficient in selenium. I feed rice bran, hay pellets, complete horse, MG and 1000 iu of Vitamin E to each of my horses. I also leave loose sea kelp available for them.

  9. AKPonyGirl--your advice is well-needed. My son and I (my sweet son who bucks bales, sets fence, but doesn't actually ride horses) tried putting up the panels today and had a HECK of a time with them falling over. I was wondering if we were missing some trick and was thinking there is NO WAY these would hold up to a horse. So, your comments are well-timed since I was starting to wonder if that's what it needed. I'm going to try the butterfly clamps as well.

    I'll check into the Millenium Gold since we're deficient in Selenium, too. What does the sea kelp and the Vitamin E do for them? Sounds intriguing.

  10. You probably don't want to do anything this permanent, but wooden posts also make really nice stable attachments for a bunch of panels. And they look kinda of nice too. They are more labor intensive than T-posts, but I also think they might be stronger. Think if a horse crashed into a row of panels, all held up by t-posts - the horse's weight might bring down more than one post, or the whole row. I've seen a t-posts bent by being run into by deer, so I know a horse can do it.


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.