It is important to check the iron content of your salt block. Too much iron will block the absorption of copper and zinc. Excess iron in your horse’s diet can make the horse more susceptible to infections, arthritis, tendon and ligament problems, and insulin resistance.
Horses that graze on grass that is high in iron are prone to developing laminitis.
Most commercial feeds provide a bare minimum of minerals such as zinc and copper. Your horse would have to eat a few hundred pounds of their feed to begin to meet the minimum daily requirement. Become a careful and informed reader of labels. Vitamin E, which is essential for skin and hoof health, is destroyed when hay is dried.
Salt blocks are not very efficient vehicles for delivering salt to a horse. Many horses don’t use them much, since the blocks are quite rough and irritate the tongue. A horse would have to consume at least a 2 pound block every month to get sufficient salt. Adding loose salt to feed is the best solution. For a working horse, about 1-2 tablespoons per day will keep them in proper balance. Insufficient salt intake leads to dehydration, so sodium levels must be maintained for performance horses.
Good horse care begins with good nutrition. So many times, when a horse needs medical attention, the cause can be traced back to a nutritional deficiency. Most of the mass produced, commercial feeds are deficient in many necessary vitamins. If feed is too high in iron, the vitamin E in the horse’s body will be destroyed. If there is too much salt in a feed, potassium will be destroyed. Horses that work hard at racing, dressage, or eventing are particularly in need of potassium and vitamin E. If a feed is high in phosphorus, the horse will become deficient in calcium and magnesium. When a horse has a balance of nutrients, he will be much less prone to infections, hoof problems, coat problems, and many other diseases.
I heard from a client that her trainer has all horses competing at Preliminary and above (eventing) tested for blood enzyme levels at the start of show season. I was so impressed to hear that such comprehensive care is being given to the horses at her barn. I think it is a great idea to monitor your horses blood when he is in an intensive conditioning program. Two important muscle enzymes can be tested for. By studying these enzymes, veterinarians are basically trying to assess whether or not the horse has tied up, or if the horse has early signs of tying up.Other factors which can contribute to tying-up include vitamin E and selenium deficiency, and electrolyte imbalance. A horse with any of these imbalances is more prone to injury and cramping, as muscles cannot perform efficiently, thus leading to overloading of the tendons.
Now that the show season is getting started, all of us need to be on high alert for a syndrome that can occur when horses go back to work: Exertional Rhabdomyolisis, or tying up. There are complex causes for tying up: nutrition, stress, chemical imbalance, overwork, etc. I will not address those issues apart from mentioning that a deficiency in selenium, Vitamin C, salt, and Vitamin E have been known to bring about an attack of the syndrome.
However,there are two stress points associated with tying up that I can work on offering relief from the extreme pain and immobility in about 5 minutes. The stress point affecting the hind legs is connected to the external oblique muscle, and the stress point affecting the front legs is connected to the posterior pectoral. When tying up, these muscles (and there can be others) contract and do not release. Using Stress Point Therapy and Myofascial release to bring back circulation will relieve pain, restore movement, and avoid permanent damage to the muscles.