The BHS has received disturbing evidence that horses have died from severe colic after swallowing so called "horse licks". The molasses blocks are designed to be put in a horse's stable, for horses to lick on an occasional basis. When eaten in quantity the molasses may impact food in the gut and cause a blockage.
The BHS is recommending that owners should only use these products when they are placed in a suitable container that cannot be opened by the horse. Ideally, there should be only a small area of the block accessible encouraging the horse to lick rather than bite and chew. Blocks should not be left loose in the feed manger or on the floor of the stable.
Kerstin Alford of the BHS Welfare Department said: "A horse that is fed a properly balanced diet, designed for the type of animal and the work it is doing, should not need supplements. However horse licks are useful in providing amusement for the stabled horse. As such it makes more sense to use them on an occasional basis, rather than all the time. They should always be placed in a suitable container. They are meant to be licked, not eaten, but unfortunately horses cannot read the instructions. The deaths of these horses is a tragedy for the owners concerned, and we are desperately anxious that the message gets out to horseowners so that this type of appalling accident does not happen to anyone else."
"The British Horse Society would like to confirm that the severe colic caused from swallowing "horse licks" is not a reference to "Horslyx". Horslyx are designed to be fed with ad lib access and Caltech, the manufacturer, have a cooking process which ensures they can be consumed safely by the horse. Horslyx come in a suitable container which should prevent accidental ingestion."