Eating dirt!

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Eating dirt!

This is a discussion on Eating dirt! within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • Why is my horse digging and eating dirt
  • What mineral is my horse looking for when she's licking the ground?

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    07-11-2010, 10:32 PM
Eating dirt!

As some of you may know, my mare, Ricci, is on stall rest. I've decided to take her off her Bute early and try and get her back outside sooner. [Yes, I know you have to wait 24 hours for the Bute to wear off.] So it had been almost 24 hours when I fed this evening, so I brought my other horse, Gracie inside so she wouldn't get excited, and let Ricci in my front pasture. Ricci trotted around for a second, then dropped her head and ate some dirt.

This is not typical Ricci. When she's out 24/7 like she's supposed to be, she doesn't do this. She's on the same food now as she would be if she were outside [orchard grass hay, horseshoer's secret, and until recently, alfalfa pellets]. I have a total of three trace mineral salt blocks; one in her stall she's been in, and one in both run-in stalls.

Why do you think she's doing this? I know it's typically because of a nutritional deficiency, but WHAT is the nutrient she's missing? I've been hand-grazing her every chance I get, she gets good hay, fresh water twice a day, and she is using her trace mineral salt block. I had decided to wean my girls off the alfalfa pellets [I've hit a rough patch, I can't afford them and figured they'd prefer hay] a few days ago, and she hasn't had any in about four days. Could that be the cause?

She didn't ingest a ton, and I do have SandClear that they get for a week every month, but that's what worries me most; what if she gives herself sand/impaction colic?

Any ideas? She's back inside tonight, and will be tomorrow. I was thinking I'd turn her out tomorrow night, in the smaller pasture so she can be out but should be "chill" enough to not get all prancy.
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    07-12-2010, 11:55 PM
What? Nobody has any ideas on what to do or what's causing my mare to eat dirt?
    07-13-2010, 04:50 PM
It could be something missing in her diet or it could be boredom. My two Geldings do this in the fall and winter, they dig down and lick mud. I sort of thought it may have something to do with their coats coming in.......?????? They received the exact same food all year round so who knows......Was she healing from a wound?

If it's once in awhile and it's dirt and not sand I would think she'd be fine, but I'm not a vet...
    07-13-2010, 04:56 PM
I would ask your farrier or vet. My farrier told me that my area lacks in selenium and to make sure my horse gets that block. Just before I sold him, my Paint started licking the ground. His selenium block had disappeared. I bought him a new one and he immediately went to it and started licking and biting at it and quit licking the ground.
    07-13-2010, 05:02 PM
You want to be very careful with selenium, even a tiny bit too much can lead to serious consequences.
    07-13-2010, 05:03 PM
Bored, missing something nutritionally, being silly, oh heck, it is a horse, do they need a reason?
    07-13-2010, 11:35 PM
My area is low in selenium too. Before I start supplementing for it, I'm going to get a hair sample tested so she doesn't get too much.

Always, I'm sure she has a reason. Ricci is a very practical mare, lol. I bet she's doing it just to get me worked up. And it's working! Ugh! =P
    07-13-2010, 11:40 PM
Not sure with horses but when a human is pregnant your doctor will ask you if you start to crave dirt (seriously) That you need to tell them as it means an iron deficiency.
    07-13-2010, 11:50 PM
Iron? Interesting. Whatever it is, it's obviously something she gets while she's outside on a normal basis, because she NEVER does it unless she's been stalled for a certain amount of time. I'll have to look into testing for that sort of stuff and how much it costs. It'll be interesting to know what she's getting from her food, grain, and pasture. I do know selenium is a big deal in my area, but that is a tricky thing to mess with without knowing the actual amount in her body.
    07-14-2010, 01:40 AM
Trace mineral blocks don't always provide all the minerals that a horse needs to remain may need to get an actual mineral supplement, that has ALL the trace minerals she needs; especially because she's an older horse, you want to make sure she is recieving all of those everyday...because she's older, she may not absorb enough from a simple salt lick. I prefer a loose mineral, anyway, as I'm not so sure they lick quite enough each time they do, to really ensure their levels sustain. But that's just me rambling...might be worth checking into though, or trying out, especially while she's on stall rest.

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