All Natural Hoof Care
What minerals are required & what do they do?
Mineral imbalances can effect your horses overall well being as well as their
personalities. Is your horse anxious, high strung or irritable? He could be lacking in
magnesium. Or is he tired, exhibiting joint pain and adrenal exhaustion, or suddenly
showing allergy symptoms? Then he may be low in potassium which can indicate
decreased thyroid activity and low cortisol. How about a swollen tongue? This can be a
sign of cobalt deficiency. I've found that most of the horses in the western Pa area need
to be supplemented with magnesium, selenium, Vit E and zinc. The easiest way to
ensure you horse is getting the required minerals is to provide him with a free choice
organic 1:1 mineral supplement. I personally recommend and have taken the
liberty of copying a statement from Andy at Highland Supply. He simply states "With the
horse being somewhat of a desert animal, he prefers the mineral rich dry grasses
growing around the mineral deposits in the western united states. If the horse has a
health issue he would even eat the mineral rich soil to correct his problem. The demand
for micronutrients in any given horse is constantly changing. Force feeding micronutrients
often overload the liver and kidney's, which need to be at full capacity during high
physical output. The serious horse owner should not guess at the requirements of a
horse but should feed free choice. The more choices a horse has, the easier it is for him
to pick and choose what he needs to correct himself, and he will do so."
The four most important electrolytes are as follows:
CALCIUM-bones and teeth, muscle contraction, insulin, and nerve impulse conduction
MAGNESIUM-energy production, protein synthesis, muscle contraction and NIC
SODIUM-fluid balance, cell membrane permeability and blood pressure regulation
POTASSIUM-cell permeability, intracellular fluid balance, muscle contraction and NIC
If your horse is low in all four this can indicate a mal-absorption/digestion or food allergy
problem. This is similar to gluten intolerance in humans (from sources such as barley,
rye, oats or wheat) and is a chronic stress or "burnout" condition characterized by weak
adrenal glands. Horses who are chronically tired or depressed should have a hair
analysis done to confirm any imbalances that may still be present after a free choice
mineral supplement has been established and is being utilized. Typically a good hay
sample will suffice to ensure your horses daily requirements are being met but in cases
where the hay comes from more than one field this too may be superfluous.
Another area of concern can be the water source. Water with heavy blue-green algae
may contain a toxin that is released after the death of the algae blooms. This can be
poisonous and you must make sure the water is absent of coliform. The presence of
E Coli correlates with other infectious organisms including salmonella and giardia.
Galvanized pipes should jot be connected to copper tubing as this results in the release
of toxic amounts of zinc (activator of enzymes, growth and development, male
reproduction, insulin production and secretion and prevention of cadmium and copper
toxicities). If you need to have your water tested be sure to check for levels on fluoride,
arsenic, lead, selenium and salt.
Balance is the key when it comes to supplementing minerals in your horses diet. It is known that the casual
addition of one mineral can throw off the availability and function of another. This is a detailed description of
critical macro minerals-those that are required in relatively large quantities-and essential trace minerals, which
are needed in much smaller quantities.
CALCIUM(Ca)-More than 99% of the calcium in your horses body is contained in the bones and teeth-bones
being 32% calcium to 17% phosphorus
Calcium makes up about 35% of the horses bone structure and is crucial for blood clotting, muscle function,
bone development and heart rate regulation.
A 1,000lb. horse requires about 22 g of calcium daily-a growing foal needs around 40 g and a lactation may
mare require as much as 100 g daily
Too much calcium can lead to epiphysitis but too little can cause the development of rickets in foals and
mysterious,transient lameness in mature horses.
PHOSPHORUS(P)-Used to metabolize carbohydrates, fats and sugars, the utilization of vitamins, aid in cell
repair and function. The horse has the ability to store phosphorus in the spring and early fall to make up for the
deficiencies in the grass in the summer and winter months. It is found in hay and cereal grains but is better
absorbed by the horse when it is acquired through the hay. A 1000lb horse needs 14 g daily increasing with
work load up to 28 g for hard workers. A lactating mare may need up to 36 g to supply the body sufficiently.
Too much causes and interaction with calcium and poor bone production. Excess amounts have been reported
to cause "big head" disease in foals (typically from overfeeding bran). Too little can cause bone
demineralization and lead to spontaneous fractures.
IRON(Fe)-is critical to a horse endurance potential as the bonding agent for oxygen transport and hemoglobin
production. Typically a 1000 lb horse will need 40mg/kg of diet. Ample supplies are provided forages as the
horse has the ability to absorb more in times of need.
Too much iron can cause iron toxicosis but I have only found reports of that occurring through injections of iron.
These horses are prone to bacterial infection and large amts. supplied to foals can cause coma and death. Not
enough iron usually occurs only in horses who have had chronic or severe blood loss or long term parasite
damage. Iron is stored in the liver , spleen and bone marrow,; iron deficiencies will cause anemia.
SELENIUM(Se)-works hand in hand with vit E to destroy free radical and aid in muscle development. Soil
levels vary from region to region so it's a good idea to have a soil sample done in your area before you
supplement. Some regions-like Colorado and Montana are at toxic levels. In contrast Pa. and Florida are
deficient. A 1000 lb horse requires .2ppm (parts per million) daily
Too much selenium can occur when a horse's blood levels reach 72ppm and will exhibit colic like discomfort,
increased heart and resp. rate and staggering. Long term grazing on high level plants can lead to chronic
toxicity and anemia, lameness, rough coat and brittle malformed hooves. Too little can result in reproductive
problems and white muscle disease, especially in foals.
SODIUM CHLORIDE(Na Cl)-salt is the only mineral for which the body has a natural appetite. It is critical for
regulation of the body fluids and conduction of electrical impulses in nerves and muscles. A 1000 lb horse
requires that .1% of the diet be salt.
Too much can cause colic, diarrhea and paralysis of the flanks. Too little leads to decreased sweating
abilities, appetite loss, weakness and dehydration. A rapid decline can result in uncoordinated muscle
VITAMIN E(tocopherol)-vit e and selenium combine to protect the body tissues from free radicals, oxygen
molecules that steal electrons from other molecules, setting off a chain reaction of destruction in cells. A 1000
lb horse requires 50 IU per dry weight kilogram of feed per day and growing , lactating or ill horses may require
as high as 100 IU dry weight kilogram daily.
Too much has never been reported but the suggested upper limit for q 1000 lb horse is 37,500 Iu daily. Too
little causes equine degenerative myeloencephalopathy (EDM), equine motor neuron disease and other
COBALT(Co)-a component of B12 vitamins and is readily supplied through hay
COPPER(Cu)-used in bone formation, immune function, hemoglobin production and maintaining the elastic
strength of blood vessels. A 1000 lb horse requires 10mg/kg of dry matter per day and as high as 50 mg.kg
daily for mares in foal to avoid orthopedic disease.
MANGANESE(Mn)-used in cartliage formation and carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. Mn also has some
antioxidant properties and no toxicities have been reported.
MAGNESIUM(Mg)-used to digest starches and synthesize proteins. Too little exhibits as muscle tremors and
no toxicities have ever been reported.
IODINE(I)-supports proper thyroid function. Too little causes goiter-a rare condition whereby the throatlatch
area will swell. This has only been reported in foals born to iodine deficient mares. Free choice salt blocks
POTASSIUM(K)-is important to regulate the fluid content of cells. It serves in muscle function and nerve
impulse reception. Too little will cause muscle fatigue and weakness.
SULFUR(S)-making up 3% of the horses hooves and hair-this mineral is present in the vitamins biotin and
thiamin and is a crucial component of insulin and chondrotin sulfate, which makes up cartliage and connective
tissues. Requirements are unknown.
VITAMIN K-produced in the gut, horses use K for blood clotting and activating a number of proteins so they
can be used by the body. There are three forms of vit K but the ones most important to your horse are K1 found
in leafy green plants(dried) and K2 which is produced in the hindgut. It is estimated that horse need .5 mg/kg of
dry weight per day which is amply supplied in hay. Too much can occur through K3 injections when a horse is
not deficient leading to renal failure, laminitis and death within 12 hours.
resources-Christine Barakat EQUUS Mag. issue 263 Sept. 1999. Print.