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  #1  
Old 09-05-2008, 03:40 PM
Javid Farm Javid Farm is offline
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Default Horse eating dirt

Hello all. Have you ever known of a horse that would rather eat dirt than graze on grass? My cousin has a gelding that will pick a spot, then pull grass up by the roots, then continue to just eat mouthfulls of dirt. He's on a high quality diet & also gets a mineral salt added to his food. She's tried to put a grazing muzzle on him to help prevent him from ingesting dirt but he figures out how to manipulate it so he can get to the sandy areas.
He has kind of a sad existence of being constantly in a stall because of this - was just wondering if anyone here has come across this & if they found some sort of deficiency, or way to correct.
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Old 09-05-2008, 03:45 PM
eemc20072007
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I was going to say mineral deficiency but it seems you have that covered.

I have seen some horses that will pick up dirt and eat it, even though they are on minerals as well. So, I don't know.

Hopefully someone else can give you something to go on...good luck.
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Old 09-05-2008, 03:54 PM
Tikigator Tikigator is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Javid Farm View Post
My cousin has a gelding that will pick a spot, then pull grass up by the roots, then continue to just eat mouthfulls of dirt. He's on a high quality diet & also gets a mineral salt added to his food.
#1 I would make sure he's got adequate forage to graze. Right now, I can tell you my pasture has very little (or not) grass and often times when they do try to graze on what is available it'll just come up by the roots instead of tear off at ground level. They get stuck with a mouthfull of dirt and would rather try to eat the couple blades of grass they have than to spit it out. So first I would make sure that there is ADEQUATE pasture, hay, etc infront of the horse.

#2 mineral salts....such as salt/mineral blocks (the brown ones) and some "salts" that are feed additives do not have the adequate vitamins and minerals they need. A "mineral block" is mostly salt, and if the horse is not lacking SALT, they won't lick/eat it...therefore they won't consume the needed nutrients it has to offer. I would switch from a "mineral SALT" to a loose vitamin/mineral supplement, I have ALL of my horses on GroStrong by Mormons. They each get a scoop (one ounce) in their feed daily. That way I am assured they are getting what they need.


Those are the 2 things I would check for. The only other thing I could suggest goes back to #1.....the #1 way to get sand out of the gut (if the horse is eating sand anyway regardless of grass or whatever) is roughage going thru the system, so I would maybe put lots of hay or a round bale out for the horse to eat. So at least if the horse is eating sand there at least is a sand colic prevention going on to help prevent sand buildup.

Good luck!
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Old 09-05-2008, 04:54 PM
dustyshoes dustyshoes is offline
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I ran across this website when researching thrush and white line disease. Apparently, some horses eat dirt because they lack silica.

If you don't want to read the whole article, skip down to the part on Mineral Deficiencies.

http://www.natureshoof.com/worming2.aspx
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Old 09-05-2008, 06:12 PM
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KissingOak KissingOak is offline
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I had the same issue.

My gelding was a very hard keeper and would eat dirt like crazy.

I finally switched to alfalfa blocks and Buckeye feed and he quit eating dirt. I assume there must be some mineral or vitamin he was lacking that the alfalfa and feed is giving him.
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Old 09-05-2008, 07:21 PM
stanley stanley is offline
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Some things to consider: ulcers, power packing - running a fecal, minerals that are made for free choice use (check out ABC minerals), probiotics. What kind of grain and hay is he getting?
What is the horse's condition? Is his coat and weight good? Is he in work?
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Old 09-06-2008, 08:59 AM
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RuggedJack RuggedJack is offline
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a horse in my barn loves to eat his shavings... does that mean he may be lacking something as well?
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Old 09-06-2008, 06:55 PM
Javid Farm Javid Farm is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stanley View Post
Some things to consider: ulcers, power packing - running a fecal, minerals that are made for free choice use (check out ABC minerals), probiotics. What kind of grain and hay is he getting?
What is the horse's condition? Is his coat and weight good? Is he in work?
He's on the same mineral/salt that Tikigator mentioned.

She feeds him Seminole Wellness. He also gets free choice tifton along with soaked alfalfa cubes & beet pulp.
His coat is excellent. He's what I would consider to be mildly obese with poor body condition (jiggly with no muscle tone). He is coming to my farm tomorrow for 30 days of work.
Currently he is in a stall 24/7 with mats to keep him from pawing holes to access dirt. She said she hand grazes him once every 2 or 3 days just for a few minutes because he eats grass for a short period of time, then goes for the dirt.
Seems like a very sad life for a horse....
She has done everything her vet has recommended & nothing seems to make a difference.

Thank you to everyone who has replied. I find myself fascinated with this problem. I've never seen a horse act this way.
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Old 09-06-2008, 06:56 PM
Javid Farm Javid Farm is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dustyshoes View Post
I ran across this website when researching thrush and white line disease. Apparently, some horses eat dirt because they lack silica.

If you don't want to read the whole article, skip down to the part on Mineral Deficiencies.

http://www.natureshoof.com/worming2.aspx
Thank you for the reference to this article!
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Old 06-09-2010, 10:01 PM
outfox outfox is offline
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Have discovered that my horse is also eating dirt. Not constantly, but I have found a couple of bowl like indentations in his pasture that I thought were odd, today I actually saw him do it, takes his teeth and scrapes the ground, then licks it smooth.

Great coat, healthy, but I think there must be something missing in his diet for him to do this. Will check out the link above.

In the mean time, Javid, how is the horse you were posting about doing? Does he still eat a lot of dirt?
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