Are salt licks beneficial for your horse?

Zijn likstenen voordelig voor je paard?

After our blog on electrolytes, our nutritionist thought it would be a perfect time to talk a bit more about salt licks. They can be found in almost every stable and are therefore a popular way to supplement your horse’s salt deficit. Although there is a wide choice, not all salt licks are equally healthy for your horse. In this blog, we give you some tips on how to decide which one offers health benefits for your horse.

The functions of salt

While people often eat too much salt, this is not the case for horses at all. Especially in summer, horses lose large amounts of salt through sweat, and they cannot replenish it themselves. A salt-lick can help the horse to make up for its deficiency.

It is of great importance that a shortage is replenished quickly. Salt is responsible for various processes in the horse’s body.

  • It reduces excessive acidity in the body’s cells (particularly the brain cells).
  • Salt is essential to bring the sugar level of the blood in the right balance.
  • It is indispensable for the energy management of the cells.
  • Without sufficient salt, muscle cramps can occur.
  • It helps with the absorption of nutrients.
  • Salt is vital for the nervous system and for the transmission of information between nerve cells.

As you can see, salt plays a major role in your horse’s body. Therefore, offering a salt lick offers many health benefits as long as you choose the right lick!

Likstenen voor paarden

Which salt lick should I choose for my horse?

If you go into an equestrian sports shop, you will be overwhelmed by licking stones in different colours and scents. All very nice, but are they all equally healthy? Unfortunately the answer is: no. We go through the different types of lick and tell you what you should definitely look out for if you want to buy one.

1. Himalayan lick

A Himalayan lick is the perfect salt block for your horse, as it contains not only salt but also other minerals and trace elements. The pink colour comes from rust particles (oxidised iron) and gives a flavour that many horses like. It is a good choice, on a natural basis and without unnecessary additives.

2. Regular white licks (usually 10kg)

The most common licking stones for horses. They are an excellent source of salt and, like the Himalayan lick, contain extra magnesium, zinc, copper, iodine and selenium.

3. Red mineral licks

A red mineral lick contains salt and other minerals, but is less suitable for horses because of the added iron. Iron deficiency in horses is rare, but iron poisoning does occur. This licking stone will therefore slowly disappear from shop shelves.

4. Flavoured salt licks

These licking stones are often intended as a tasty treat for your horse or against boredom in the stable. They offer little advantage, as your horse is not going to absorb salt according to its needs, but simply because he likes the taste. They are therefore completely eaten in a short space of time and often contain additional unnecessary sugars.

5. Special licks with added magnesium, garlic or biotin 

This type of lick contains the necessary salts and minerals, but the added elements such as magnesium, garlic and biotin are often present in small quantities. It is therefore wiser to supplement these elements and choose a standard lick.

Does your horse need extra elements such as biotin? Then choose Global Medics Hoof & Coat with added biotin. Biotin has a beneficial effect on healthy hoof growth and a beautiful coat, mane and tail.

Hoof&Coat

The advantages and disadvantages of a salt lick

Whether a salt lick is a good choice for your horse or not depends very much on the licking behaviour of your horse and the type of lick you choose. In the table below you will find an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of salt licks.

ADVANTAGES DISADVANTAGES
Your horse can decide on the own salt intake. Some horses tend to nibble at it, taking in large amounts of salt over a short period of time.
It encourages your horse to drink. Salt licks do not always contain a high amount of sodium. Choose one that contains at least 38% sodium.
With a sufficient intake they provide the right amount of salt. Some salt licks contain strange proportions of minerals. So always pay attention to the composition.
There are several variants available that contain a high amount of sugar.

Additional supplements to a salt lick

Not every horse will make up for a shortage of salt by hanging a salt lick in the stable. It may be that your horse does not look after it or even refuses to lick it. In that case, it is advisable to add salt to the feed yourself in the form of electrolytes. Global Medics Electrolytes is a complete product which ensures rapid recovery after salt loss thanks to the addition of numerous active ingredients.

More information?

Not sure wether your horse nees extra electrolytes? Then feel free to contact us. We at Global Medics are always ready to provide advice.