Electrolytes for Horses
Strenuous work and the physiological stress of travelling and competing increase losses of electrolytes through sweat. The losses can create an imbalance which can ultimately result in the earlier onset of fatigue and in extreme cases serious dehydration and death. Higher temperatures exacerbate losses and so more people contact the Dengie feedline about electrolytes for horses in hot weather but it is something to consider all year round for those in work.
Electrolytes For Horses
Electrolytes are minerals that are found in fluids in the body and their concentration in the fluids found both in and around cells affects neuro-muscular function. Horses sweat to dissipate the heat generated by exercise which can be significant for those in hard work but also those who are working hard relative to their fitness level or ability.
Electrolyte losses and dehydration are linked to fatigue and can ultimately compromise your horse’s performance. Horses that appear to get tired towards the end of their work may well be doing so as a result of electrolyte losses, particularly if they are working in hot weather.
Both electrolytes and water are needed for re-hydration so adding salt or electrolyte supplements for horses to their water is ideal. If you find this puts your horse off drinking then they can be mixed into the bucket feed. It is recommended to make the feed wet and slushy to promote efficient absorption. This is also helpful for increasing water intake as well as electrolytes for horses in hot weather.
What are the benefits of Horse Electrolytes vs Salt?
Table salt is a combination of sodium and chloride and so electrolytes for horses should include potassium and possibly magnesium in addition to make it more effective than simply using table salt! Potassium is abundant in fresh forage and conserved grass forages such as hay and haylage make a reasonable contribution to the horse’s overall requirements. Horses with no access to grass and those on limited forage intakes are likely to benefit even more from electrolyte supplements for horses.
How to Help Prevent an Electrolyte Imbalance In Horses
- Keep Your Horse Hydrated – As the saying goes you can lead a horse to water…… but horses are not always keen to drink, especially when away from home. Ironically, horses often prefer the water from the field tank than fresh from the tap. If possible, take your own “tank” water with you to competitions. Another tip is to try flavouring your water at home with a little bit of cordial or food flavouring and use the same flavour when you stay away to hide the change of water.
- Offering a soaked horse feed is another way to increase water intake that doesn’t require the horse to actually drink from a bucket. Electrolytes can be added to Dengie Alfa-Beet which must be soaked prior to feeding, to increase water intake and help restore electrolytes for horses.
- Fibre and oil based horse feeds provide slow release energy which can be particularly useful for fizzy or over-excitable horses. When they get over-excited they often sweat more losing more electrolytes and wasting energy messing about. It’s not a great surprise that these are often the horses that run out of energy in the competition and run-up light afterwards. Utilising fibre and oil as energy sources and reducing starch intakes may help to reduce the risk of these problems.
For further advice on electrolytes for horses or to receive a personalised ration plan for your horse call the Dengie Feedline on 01621 841188 or click here to complete our Feed Advice Form.