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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 2 yr old filly has been eating dirt every time the ground thaws enough for her to do so. She has a red mineral block and gets mixed hay (timothy alfalfa) twice a day, complete feed (12% protein pellets) and a tiny bit of sweet feed for a treat. Fresh water is available 24-7 of course.

Since she is only 2, I am guessing she is deficient in some mineral (calcium and or phosphorus), so I got some Hoffman's for her. I gave her some tonight top-dressed on her complete feed and she didn't want it. She just picked and snorted and eventually went back to rooting through the dirt. I expected her to wolf it down thinking her dirt-eating habit was due to a mineral deficiency.

Am I expecting too much when I thought she would wolf down the minerals? Would she eat dirt because she is teething? Should I keep trying with topdressing the Hoffman's just in smaller quantities? Any other thoughts on why she is digging through the snow to eat dirt?
 

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Does she have free choice hay or pasture? She may be bored, so try to keep her occupied. What about mixing the Hoffmans with some molasses?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Does she have free choice hay or pasture? She may be bored, so try to keep her occupied. What about mixing the Hoffmans with some molasses?
Thanks for the suggestion on the molasses. I'll give that a try or maybe some apple cider vinegar. She may be bored as well. The "pasture" is covered in about 3-4" of snow and ice so the horses don't get to run and play much. This winter has been brutal with little snow and a continual cycle of freeze and thaw. She does have a pasture mate and a Jolly Ball in the pasture with her, but she doesn't pay either much attention.

My daughter suggested tying up a plastic milk jug with a length of rope for her to play with. Do you have any other ideas to keep her occupied during the day? We are at work / school during the day but try to spend as much time as we can with the horses in the early evening and on the weekends, but it is dark by 6:00 here. In the next few months that will change dramatically. Maybe this is just her way of saying "Winter Sucks".
 

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Thanks for the suggestion on the molasses. I'll give that a try or maybe some apple cider vinegar. She may be bored as well. The "pasture" is covered in about 3-4" of snow and ice so the horses don't get to run and play much. This winter has been brutal with little snow and a continual cycle of freeze and thaw. She does have a pasture mate and a Jolly Ball in the pasture with her, but she doesn't pay either much attention.

My daughter suggested tying up a plastic milk jug with a length of rope for her to play with. Do you have any other ideas to keep her occupied during the day? We are at work / school during the day but try to spend as much time as we can with the horses in the early evening and on the weekends, but it is dark by 6:00 here. In the next few months that will change dramatically. Maybe this is just her way of saying "Winter Sucks".
Free choice hay, like I said. Or at least feeding more often. Jolly balls (if they don't get frozen to the ground :lol:), feeding hay in several small mesh hay nets, etc. Also, lickits and other toys..
 

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I have three rambunctious boys so toys are all over my pasture. I have all sizes of jolly balls, old plastic barrels, traffic cones, boat buoys with holes pokes in them and filled with feed. They roll the buoy around to get the feed out really slow.

Mine have hay in slow feed nets so that it takes them longer to eat and they are not as bored that way plus they have no waste. I tie the bag end up and throw it out in the pasture. My guys don't have shoes so they can't get caught on it and they roll it around while they eat on it. I have also tied them to the center rafter of the barn so that it swings around and takes longer to eat.
 

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To be honest she just might not like the smell or taste. Try getting a Himalayan or rocky mountain salt lick (they're a little more natural). That stopped my pony from eating dirt. They're a little different than the red mineral blocks. Also a little vegitable or canola oil might get your horse to want to eat the food with the supplements and it's also good for them. Or maybe just get your horse some sand clear and let her have at it :)
 

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Before you worry too much about this, consider that you may have some good tasting roots around your place and that your horse is not 'eating dirt'. Horses do not graze a pasture evenly; they wonder back and forth eating the most palatable grass first, often all the way to the ground...and beyond. It's not unusual for me to even see a horse pawing the ground to dig up the roots of grass/plants that they have found to be particularly tasty.
 

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Horses eat or lick dirt for 2 reasons - either to get minerals or to get clay. I have no idea what kind of soil you have up there, but if you have clay in the soil, that is likely it...lots of animals eat clay, which is good for them...
 

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Consider this!
How much dirt does a horse eat when it is daily grazing?
Eating dirt is perfectly natural although most people will say it is lack of minerals or salt.

I have noticed many times thee things.
The first is that when a horse is injured and has to stay in the stable for a period of time, if you throw it in a tussock of grass with roots and dirt still attached, there will only be stones left, they will eat the dirt.
Secondly, horses that spend a lot of time in the stables with no turn out, when given the chance to graze in hand, will eat grass but will start to lick or bite the soil.
Finally, horses that are continuously stabled will often be very loose in their droppings, give them the tussock of earth and their droppings are fine.

My conclusion is that horses need a certain amount of dirt in their diet.
 

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Salt is the first thing that jumps to mind for me. Try offering her loose salt.

The red mineral blocks have a few problems with them- horse's tongues aren't really rough enough to get all the salt they need from them (unless the horse is one of those that really enjoy licking things)

I almost bought a horse a few months ago, and when I was researching the Ca/P supplement she was currently getting, I found that horses will self regulate salt, but not other minerals, so other free-choice minerals are not actually beneficial. You're better off making sure your horse is getting the appropriate amount of ration balancer (or a complete feed) and only supplementing minerals you know are lacking in your hay & grain.

Some horses do fine on salt blocks (plain salt- not added minerals), while some have a strong preference for loose salt. If you do try loose salt, don't be surprised if your horse seems to be eating a lot of it for the first few days- she will level off on her own to meet her needs.

Most feed stores sell loose salt in 50-lb bags, but you can also feed kosher or plain salt from the grocery store if you don't want to commit to that much at once :)
 

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Don't know if this would help your horse, but since not all minerals are alike there is another choice of minerals that you could try as a supplement. From all of my research this is the best I have ever found. Only recently become available. Identified after a farmer saw animals eating the dirt in one location, and no where else. Turned out was 15 million year old deposit, that came from the Colorado River picking up pieces of mountains along its 1450 mile length. They were laid of rest over the San Andreas Fault so they were cooked at high temperatures. The 57 minerals are micron size. May be worth a try in some cases because of the high cost of severe cases that could have been prevented.

Type in Ion Charged Horses to find on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias=hpc&field-keywords=ion+charged+horse&x=0&y=0

Have saw do great things. Could try and experiment.

You need to determine for yourself.
 
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