When a Mineral Block is More than a Mineral Block

When a Mineral Block is More than a Mineral Block



The mineral block was sitting in a feed pan in the three-sided shelter. The manager and I had just finished walking my two horses along the fence line of the paddock, introducing them to the space they’d be in at night. We were removing their halters in front of the shelter, when I caught sight of the big, red block out of the corner of my eye. I just about had a coronary.

“Holy cow!” I said. “That’s gotta’ go.”

Not terribly tactful, I admit.

But I was so surprised to see the dreadful thing—there weren’t any others on the property—that it just slipped out.

I cringed at the thought of my mouthy gelding licking the nasty thing, explained to the manager about the feed grade minerals tainted with heavy metals and who knows what else, explained that, no, it wasn’t true that only animals who needed minerals would eat it, that the molasses and other flavor enhancers the manufacturer added ensured that every critter would want to spend time with it. I explained that those big red blocks had nothing to do with nutrition, everything to do with profits. Then, having regained my balance, I calmly asked that it be removed.

She said she needed to talk to the woman it belonged to first, which surprised the heck out of me. I mean, I’d explained that the darned thing was poison. Remove it now; talk later, right?

Three days later, and the thing was still there in all of its rusty glory. I’d already chased my gelding off it twice, and who knows how much he was eating when I wasn’t around. Fearing the manager was never going to speak to the keeper of the block, I came up with a compromise: We’d take the block out of the paddock when my horses were in it, and put the block back in when my horses were out with the larger herd during the afternoon. The barn manager approved. Yay, success! And after only three sleep-deprived nights.

The next morning, when I went to feed my horses breakfast, I saw the block outside the paddock. Yay again! A few minutes later, I ran into the young woman who had placed the red monster in the horse shed to begin with. I hadn’t seen her since my horses had been moved in with hers. I said I figured she was probably upset with me about the mineral block being removed, but . . .

She didn’t know what I was talking about.

“Oh, I, uh, thought Heather had talked to you about it. We’re taking it out of the paddock when my horses are in there and putting it back in when they’re out with the herd.” She glared at me. (She’s a little wisp of a thing, by the way, and very young.

“Um, I think that when you learn about what’s in those blocks, you’re not going to want it in there either,” I said, as kindly as I could. “They’re full of toxins. The red coating is iron oxide, rust.”

“I know that,” she said, leaning towards me. And I’m thinking, leaning back a bit, If you know that the block is coated in rust, why are you feeding it? But I kept that thought to myself.

See, the thing is, the young woman’s horses had been alone in that paddock for close to a year, when the previous manager had gotten fired and taken half the place with him. So she’d been doing her own thing, had claimed the space as her own, and here I was cramping her style—and, in her mind, questioning her judgment.

I understood the wanting-her-own-space part. I’d moved to this barn because the property I’d been leasing a piece of for over four years had been sold. It was a difficult transition. But you do what you have to do.

But the defensiveness about choices—choices you thought were good but that turned out to be not so good—I’ve come up against that attitude many, many times over the years, and that part I’ve never understood.

Unable to find the article I’d once had a folder full of copies of, an article about the dangers of mineral blocks that I used to hand out to my clients, I’d emailed biochemist Linsey McLean, whose life’s work is helping people understand the effects of environmental toxins on the bodies of horses and humans. “Please,” I begged. “Send me an explanation I can share with these people.”

The day before my conversation with the young woman, I’d gotten what I was looking for:


Hello Pam,

Here’s the scoop:

1. The minerals are not bioavailable; they are all inorganic and not in correct ratios either. There are minimums and maxes but they don’t tell you what is in them.

2. Colored with iron oxide—rusty nails—bad for the liver.

3. Flavor enhancers added to get them to eat that crap, as in all crap-loaded feeds.

4. They would have to eat nearly a pound to get any substantial minerals at all.

5. Loaded with arsenic from hazardous waste that’s recycled in them.


To your good health!

Vita Royal Products, Inc.

Biochemist  | CEO



I’m guessing you didn’t know that it’s legal to recycle hazardous waste in animal feed. That shocked the heck out of me the first time I heard it, too. And I spread the word to anyone who will listen.

I’d already left a copy of this email in the office for the manager; now I handed one to the young woman. “Here,” I said. “This is from a biochemist who knows all there is to know about the toxins in feeds. I’m pretty sure you won’t want to use the block anymore when you read this.” She glared at me.

I told her that I used to think they were OK, too. I said that when I found out they were dangerous (and that most processed feeds were unhealthy as well), I got really angry. “I mean, you trust that companies selling you food for your animals care about their health. I was really glad to find out the truth.”

She was still glaring at me. I hadn’t expected a huge “Thank you!” and a hug, but still . . . She said to just make sure the block was in the shed for part of every day.

For close to a week, every afternoon when she turned my horses out into the pasture, the manager put the block, which weighs about 25 pounds, into the shed; and then every night when I brought my horses back in, I moved the block back out. What a pain, I thought each time I had to lift the darned thing. I wished the young woman would get over herself and just get rid of it already.

Today, the young woman moved her horses to a friend’s property. It wasn’t because of the mineral block although that may have been the last straw. She was really unhappy with the changes happening at the barn. She felt displaced. I know that feeling.


I’d known the move was coming because the day before she left, she’d gathered her things together in a corner of the feed room, and a couple of her saddles and bridles were already gone. In the midst of her belongings was the 25-pound red monster.

This evening, when I went to feed my horses dinner, her horses and all of her things were gone.  Well, just about all of them. She’d only left two items behind in the feed room: the copy of the email I’d given her and . . . the big, red mineral block.

I assumed she’d decided not to poison her horses with arsenic. “Good for her,” I said to myself. I’d opened the door, and she’d walked through much more quickly than lots of folks do. But the manager thought she just hadn’t wanted to heft the darned thing into the truck. Guess we’ll never know for sure.



What about you? How good are you at opening your mind and heart to new information? Do you find you get defensive or angry? How long do you stay that way?

Conversely, how good are you at sharing information?

Wondering what these questions have to do with the title of my blog: Healing is Possible?




5 Replies to “When a Mineral Block is More than a Mineral Block”

  1. Hi Pam! Yeah, it’s one of the most unfortunate things in our society that we can’t trust companies to have the best interests of their clients, their employees, our environment, or even their own long-term self-interest at heart. It is so hard to get true, unbiased facts from anyone.
    I grew up in the old school horse industry. I was fortunate in that the first job I had was working for a highly experienced, highly intelligent woman who had been on the Olympic 3 day team ( this was circa 1965 ). She trained all the horses in basic dressage, regardless of their show specialty. Her husband did the actual competing, as he was a better rider. What I remember about her more than anything was the way that she managed the barn of 35 horses. They were all fed with good hay, whole oats that were crimped in our own machine, corn for some, and a few basic supplements for some. The horses were always in good health, in spite of minimal turn-out. Maybe it was just that oats and hay were better then…sometimes it seems like we make it more complicated than it has to be. I do remember that we never fed sweet feed, or pre-packaged feed of any kind. All horses had at least minimal grooming every day. These same horses would regularly bring home championships from Devon or any other top rated show they competed at. I do know that if anyone involved with horses wants to give the horse its best chance at a sound and happy life, that one must at all times be open to new information of every kind, must be willing to do due diligence in verifying the veracity of the info, and must apply it with all the art at their command. Because while science is of course very important, horse care is above all an art, and the dedication and skill of the artist and the love and care that is delivered through that art is what makes the difference.

    1. Hi Brent. How fortunate you were to learn a natural way of doing things. Unfortunately, the environment is so terribly toxic now, that many of the old ways no longer work. It’s necessary to both detox the body and to give it extra assistance in maintaining its health. Biochemist Linsey McLean has taught me a huge amount in this regard.

      And I of course use Reiki treatments in conjunction with any detox and wellness program because the treatments help the body to regain its balance and find its natural rhythm–it recalibrates the body’s healing ability.

      The problem comes when people are wedded to their way of doing things, defensive about learning how the world has changed, defensive about considering new approaches. I used to try to convince people. I learned that this is not a wise approach.

      Now, I just open the door and then step out of the way.

  2. I believe I’m pretty open minded to new things but maybe slow to implement them…if left up to me!! There are times when I didn’t have a choice (I probably took too long..LOL) and I had to change what I was doing (or not doing as the case may be). I do try to be flexible in all areas of my life so when change is required, my whole world doesn’t become stressed….and horses do help with that area in my life….

  3. Absolutely both…they compliment each other …. by trying to have a mindset that things may not always go according to my plans, then when something does happen where I need to adjust or rethink a situation, I can do so more clearly because I’m not upset or stressed about it. Not sure I’m explaining it clearly but it was and still is horses that teach me these lessons…

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