Why do horses eat mud? Causes and Dangers

Some horse owners worry when they see their horse or pony eating mud. They may notice their horse nuzzling in muddy puddles or licking muddy patches of earth while turned out in the field to graze.

Assuming that eating mud is a symptom that the horse is lacking in minerals, advice is often given to provide the horse with a mineral feed block - but a horse will often consume this as well as the mud!

Although eating mud and dirt can often be a sign that a horse isn’t receiving sufficient nutrients in his diet, it may be totally unrelated.

Eating mud can be due to boredom or just a habit that a horse has acquired.


If your horse is ingesting dirt and sediment while he eats mud he is liable to get sand in the gut, which can often lead to colic.

if the horse is lacking in salt and minerals it will try to get them from other inadequate, and sometimes dangerous sources.


Horses that are deficient in minerals or salt will lick or chew on fences, mangers, dirt, rocks and other objects.

They can also develop depraved appetites, and suffer from reduced growth and a rough or poor ooking coat.

Chewing on wood can also lead to vices like crib biting or windsucking

Mares with foals can experience reduced milk production.

Horses and ponies with a severe salt, caused either by a dietary deficiency or excessive sweating become easily fatigued and exhausted.

Another common result of a mineral or salt defiency is Azoturia


There are changes you can make to your horse’s ration to ensure he’s receiving a balanced diet of vitamins and minerals which may stop him from eating mud.

A horse needs a regular supply of vitamins and minerals and, as there is no way of regulating or monitoring how much of a salt or mineral lick he is consuming, it is much easier to provide them in the concentrate ration.

If a horse is a good-doers you would need to use a low-calorie source of nutrients to ensure that your horse doesn’t put on too much weight.

You could use a low-calorie balance, or a vitamin and mineral supplement.

An equine feed balancer could be used instead of the coarse mix if you are currently feeding this, or the supplement could just be added to a coarse mix.

It’s important to ensure that you are feeding the correct amount of balancer or supplement, otherwise your horse will not be receiving a balanced diet.