In the winter horses sometimes get problems with sand in the intestines. This leads to diarrhea or even painful sand colic. Of course it is important that you treat a horse that has sand in its belly against this. But it is of course even better to address the cause. Do you know why your horse eats sand?
Sand eating and sand colic seem to occur particularly in autumn and winter. One reason for this is that horses sometimes stand on a short or bare pasture and still graze, bringing a lot of sand with the grass roots. The transition from pasture to stable and (boring) paddock can also lead to a higher sand intake.
Six reasons for licking sand
If your horse is deliberately licking sand, there could be six possible causes:
- Silicon deficiency
- Deficiencies in other minerals
- Too little roughage throughout the day
- learned habit
Silicon deficiency leads to eating sand
Silicon deficiency is common in horses. Silicon is an extremely important mineral for the production of collagen and therefore for the tendon tissue, connective tissue, bones and cartilage. Your horse cannot absorb silicon from sand for use in its body. It occurs naturally mainly in absorbable form in green plants. But a horse with a silicon deficiency will try to solve that deficiency by eating sand. He knows he needs it, but not that sand won’t help! You can safely supplement a silicon deficiency by giving your horse a hydrolyzed, liquid silicon supplement. That is quite absorbable. Silicon is extra important for pregnant mares and young horses that are still growing.
Your horse may also be deficient in other minerals, such as zinc or iron. A horse needs small amounts of many different minerals. We call these trace elements. Because a lot of pasture land in the Netherlands is poor in minerals, many horses are deficient in some of these substances. They are simply no longer all in sufficient quantities in our roughage. A great way to supplement these types of minerals is to use a liquid concentrate of Bering Sea water. It contains more than 85 elements and fulvic acid from the Bering Sea, which is very clean. Most of the salt is removed from this concentrate. It contains much more minerals than regular licks. Especially if you see that your horse digs holes in search of special layers of soil, such as black soil or red sand, a mineral concentrate can be a good solution.