"WHEN DO HORSES NEED ELECTROLYTES?" by Buck McColl
August 1, 2015
Electrolytes are lost when a horse sweats. The need for an electrolyte supplement increases when work, stress and heat or extreme cold are added to your horse's daily routine.
Electrolytes are ionic salts that are lost due to dehydration. Electrolytes play a very important role in the health of your horse. Loss causes fatigue, muscle weak-ness, and a decreased thirst response due to dehydration from sweating.
In the summer when the temperature and humidity combine to 150, a thousand pound horse can lose up to one ounce of electrolytes per hour when the horse is at work. Work can be defined in several forms, such as training, eventing, and even the stress of trailering.
Is it necessary to feed electrolytes in the winter? Yes, because often the water is so cold that your horse will not drink enough to keep the gut properly hydrated for good digestion of the hay and grain. Sometimes it helps to warm the water. Horses are like us, they don't care a lot for ice water when the temperature is freezing.
A well balanced electrolyte should consist of approximately 70% salt, 10% to 15% potassium, and never more than 10% sug-ar. Some electrolytes for horses contain as much as 70% sugar. Be sure to look at your label. Never feed an electrolyte with over 10% sugar.
"Gator-Ade" is a good water replacement for people, but it is not fortified heavily enough with salt and potassium for a thou¬sand pound horse. On the other hand, it is often helpful to "flavor" your horse's water when leaving your farm for a show or event so the "new taste" from a new place won't be a concern.
Keep "loose salt", as opposed to block salt available free choice at all times. A horse's tongue is smooth in texture. He will not get enough salt from a block and will end up biting the block and possibly breaking teeth. A cow's tongue is very rough in texture, and when they lick a block of salt it often looks like a piece of modern sculpture.
A good rule of thumb as to when and how to feed electrolytes is the "Two-Two" con-cept. Feed 2 oz two hours before work, two oz every two hours during work and two oz two hours after work.
When electrolytes are in good supply in the gut the horse has an increased thirst re¬sponse, increased performance, rebounds to work sooner, and returns to feed more quickly.
An excellent source of electrolyte for horses is Mobile Milling's EXER-LYTE for daily use at home and EXER-LYTE 'TO GO' for trail rides and events away from home. The EXER-LYTE 'TO GO' is fortified with Speedy Beet for ease of feeding when it is not convenient to have feed or water available as in trail riding and trailering.
Mobile Milling Service, Inc Thomasville, NC 27360
To receive a DVD of "Equine Hoof Nu-trition Lecture with Buck McColl" call the BWFA at 706-397-8047.
Buck has received numerous
awards from the S.H.O.E. Chapter, BWFA, FNRC and many others.
Buck McColl graduated from NC State University in 1961 with a bachelor's degree in agriculture. After graduation, he became in¬volved in animal nutrition with Mobile Mill¬ing Service, Inc. in Thomasville, NC, a family owned an operated business since 1953. Buck is currently the owner and nutritionist for Mo¬bile Milling Service, Inc.
Since 1962, Buck has been developing feed¬ing programs for dairy, beef and equine--with equine being his specialty. He teaches basic equine nutrition at farrier schools across the country and is regularly invited as a speaker at clinics and symposiums. His sessions are designed to help farriers with basic nutritional information so that they can be prepared to answer questions posed by their clients.
Portions of Buck's published works are in-clued in NC State University's Equine Nutri¬tion Short Course as well as other universities. His ability to communicate at various levels and nutritional experience sets the stage for an exciting learning experience.