Today I’d like to discuss the importance of salt in the horses diet. A lot of people that I speak to tell me they add a pinch of salt, or sometimes a tablespoon, to their horses feed each day, but is that enough? Did you know that the recommended maintenance amount of salt is 10g per 100kg bodyweight per day? That means that a 500kg horse should be getting 50g of salt every day. And that’s just as a maintenance dose- if your horse is sweating excessively (either through work or heat) they may require more.
Why is salt so important?
Salt (or Sodium Chloride) is the main source of sodium and chloride ions in the diet. Sodium is essential for nerve and muscle function and is involved in the regulation of fluids in the body. Sodium also plays a role in the body’s control of blood pressure and blood volume. So as you can see, salt is super important!
Does it matter what type of salt I use?
In short, no! Table salt that you buy from the supermarket is just as effective as more expensive types such as Himalayan salt, rock salt etc. Salt blocks/licks are great, however it is difficult to monitor your horses intake with these, so adding salt to your horses feed is a more accurate way of ensuring their intake is sufficient, particularly during hot weather.
Obviously we also want to ensure that our horses aren’t getting too much salt, so it is worth checking whether any of the feeds or supplements you are currently using also have salt, and if so adjust the amount that you are adding. Time to get out the kitchen scales and check how much salt your horse is getting!