Please Pass The Salt: Does Your Horse Have A Preference?

“Salt is the only mineral for which horses have an indisputable appetite, thereby displaying a degree of nutritional wisdom regarding its consumption.”

From Kentucky Equine Research at

Salt is an essential nutrient for horses. They can’t manufacture salt themselves within their bodies, so they must obtain it from their diet. But have you ever thought about what type or form of salt that you horse prefers?

During a recent trip with my horses to a friend’s barn, I noticed that my horse, Shiloh, started licking the Himalayan rock salt that my friend had set out for her own horse. Shiloh licked it like he just found a long-lost friend.

At home, I keep a 50 pound white salt block out for my horse’s in their paddock at all times (I learned to put it in the shade under the awning of their run in shed- those blocks get hot to the touch in the sunlight and Summer weather). I also add table salt to my horses’ ration balancer during Summer. But I had never given my horses Himalayan rock salt.

After seeing how much Shiloh enjoyed that type of salt, I went ahead and bought one to hang in the paddock. The photos show Shiloh appreciatively licking and nibbling his new pink block. Bear was less impressed. He sniffed it but did not taste-test. I have yet to see him do so. To each his own I suppose.

Fortunately, there are multiple options for providing a horse with salt. There is the option of providing free-choice salt (in a salt block or loose salt in a pan) or adding salt to their grain. Some provide their horses with a mineral lick like the red salt blocks or something similar. These licks include salt plus other minerals (note that the Himalayan salt lick seen above also includes some additional minerals besides salt).

Interestingly, there is debate about whether or not mineral licks could imbalance a horse’s diet because of all the mineral additives in addition to the salt itself. Others question if a horse can even get enough salt, much less too many other minerals, from any kind of salt/mineral lick at all. Those folks recommend loose salt instead.

Since I am not a veterinarian or an equine nutritionist, I don’t have much personal knowledge to add regarding the appropriateness of one source of salt or another. I do, however, have a list of resource links from several reputable sources on the subject of horses and salt that I found interesting. Lots of information to mull over and help plan your own equine salt usage.

Have you met a horse with a notable preference for a certain type or form of salt?

4 thoughts on “Please Pass The Salt: Does Your Horse Have A Preference?

  1. I didn’t know that horses couldn’t make salt in their bodies! I have a lamp made from Himalayan Rock Salt. It’s very pretty when it’s switched on. šŸ˜€

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      1. It’s just one big lump (similar to the one hanging in your stable) set on a plinth and with the wiring unobtrusively fixed inside. It gives a gorgeous warm glow when on. šŸ˜€

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  2. Biasini inherited a Himalayan rock salt on a rope when he moved into the stall he is in now. I just noticed today it is about half the size it used to be so clearly he is using it. I will get him a new one.

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