What Are Electrolytes?
Basically, electrolytes are solutions of acids, bases or salts. Electrolytes are imperative for normal nerve and muscle function. Typically, electrolytes are distributed throughout the body, but any depletion can result in severe bodily dysfunction causing problems with your horse’s heart, gastrointestinal system, muscle cramping or even affecting normal brain function.
Does My Horse Need Electrolytes?
Horses lose valuable electrolytes when they work because the loss of electrolytes primarily occurs through the loss of water. As your horse sweats, concentrated amounts of electrolytes are being lost as well (more concentrated loses than with human perspiration). In fact, for endurance riding, electrolyte supplementation is a valuable component in helping to maintain performance and ensuring your horse’s health because of the likelihood of severe electrolyte losses. This loss can also occur with trail riding, polo, racing or any other sport where your horse sweats more profusely than when in your field at home. Because electrolytes are primarily lost through perspiration, the loss of electrolytes is commonly associated with dehydration.
Can I Give My Horse Too Much Electrolytes?
Yes! Electrolytes, just as with most additives to your horse’s diet, can be toxic in excessive amounts. Please follow directions on the label of your electrolyte supplement and be aware of your horse’s signals. One way that you can tell that you’ve given your horse an over-dosage of electrolytes, is that you will notice that your horse is urinating frequently and drinking much more water than usual.