Why is My Horse Eating Dirt?

Question and Anwser


“I have a 5 year old QH all around mare.  She has been in an training program for about 5 weeks now to prepare her for the coming year show circuit. She is getting Purina Ultium, free choice salt mineral block, Grass alfalfa mix hay and horse guard.  Ive noticed the last week her wanting to lick and eat the dirt.  Shes clearly lacking something.  Suggestions?”

Answer from Ph.D. Equine Nutritionist, Dr. Kelsey Johnson Nonella:

Your mare sounds like she is being fed a good, balanced diet. She may be consuming the dirt out of boredom. Does she have the ability to graze on her hay throughout the day, or is it limited to more of a meal feeding? If you have the option to let her nibble on hay throughout the day, this may curb her appetite from eating so much dirt. However, it is perfectly normal for horses to consumed some dirt.

If you would like to read an article about horses eating dirt, here is a great article written by Dr. Amy Gill.


I wouldn’t change anything in diet unless you need to modify her energy level once you starting showing. Hope this helps.


About Dr. Kelsey J. Nonella Ph.D., P.A.S.

Kelsey J. Nonella, Ph.D. is an equine nutritionist who was riding horses before she could walk. Her love for horses drives her to help educate people on what their horses’ needs in order to have happy, healthy horses. Kelsey went to Cal Poly receiving a Bachelor’s of Science in Animal Science and then onto West Texas A&M, where she got her Masters and eventually her Doctorates in Equine Science. At A&M, Dr. Nonella did extensive research on Selenium within horses. Click here to view her research. Kelsey’s colleagues have mentioned her as an one of the United States equine Selenium experts.
View all posts by Dr. Kelsey J. Nonella Ph.D., P.A.S.

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