The Scoop On Eating Dirt

Many horse owners have been told that a horse that eats dirt is missing specific nutrients in his diet—but this line of thinking is outdated. Seeing a horse licking or chewing dirt is concerning as the ingestion of soil can increase the likelihood he will develop sand colic.

A horse fed the proper amount of a commercial feed formulated for his age and lifestyle should lack for nothing with regards to vitamins, minerals and nutrients; so ingesting soil isn’t to “make up” for a deficiency in his diet. If a horse was lacking something in his diet severely enough to make him want to eat dirt, he would show other signs of the deficiency, including weight loss or a dull coat.

Horses typically eat dirt because they’re bored. In a natural setting, horses graze nearly constantly—and that time spend chewing is good for their mental health. A horse eating dirt might be seeking the feeling the chewing motion brings, so offering him something like hay in of a slow feeder might give him something to pass the time. Increasing his workload (if possible) or giving him a playful pasturemate may also help ease his boredom.

Read more at EQUUS magazine.

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