Is Pasture Enough?


I own a 13 year old Morab mare that is out on pasture. I have not been riding much lately. She has her worming, vaccinations and feet and teeth up to date. Should I give her any free choice mineral and if so what would you recommend. The horses do have access to a cobalt salt lick. Thanks. – Elly O. from AAEP Ask the Vet

There are a couple of key pieces of information missing from your question in order for me to give you the best advice, such as what part of the country you live in, how much and what quality of pasture she has access to, and if she is a an easy keeper or at an ideal weight (she could be a hard keeper but guessing from her breeds that is less likely). Depending on the answers to these questions, your horse “may” be getting a complete and balanced diet just from the pasture, but most horses don’t, as—you got it—minerals can sometimes be lacking or in the wrong ratio in some areas.
I’m not a big fan of licks for horses, whether they’re white salt licks, red trace mineral licks or blue cobalt licks. These blocks were made for the rougher tongues of cattle and while some horses don’t mind licking them, others scrape them with their teeth or don’t bother with them at all. So loose minerals as you suggest would be a better choice, but rather than asking her to select what she needs or doesn’t need (horses don’t have a craving for anything but sodium) why not top-dress salt or minerals onto something she likes, like a handful of oats, hay pellets or beet pulp? By separating the horses just once a day to supply their individual minerals, you’ll be ensuring that each horse gets his or her daily serving of essential nutrients.

Lydia Gray, DVM MA, is the Staff Veterinarian for SmartPak. Prior to joining SmartPak, Dr. Gray served as the first-ever Director of Owner Education for the American Association of Equine Practitioners. She has authored numerous articles in publications such as The Horse, Horse Illustrated, Western Horseman and a variety of veterinary journals and magazines. Dr. Gray is also a frequent speaker at horse expos, veterinary conventions and other events. After graduating with honors from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and receiving her Master's Degree in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication, she practiced at the Tremont Veterinary Clinic for several years. Dr. Gray is active in the American Veterinary Medical Association and Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association. She enjoys training and showing her Trakehner, Newman, in both combined driving and dressage, and is a USDF “L” Program Graduate (with distinction). Find Dr. Gray on Google+

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One comment on “Is Pasture Enough?
  1. Cindy L. says:

    The timing of this question is great, as I have the same question, especially with winter coming up. Thank you!

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