Just as humans need electrolytes for everything from muscle function to efficient hydration, horses require even more of these essential minerals when it comes to maintaining healthy performance. Every time a horse sweats, it loses valuable electrolytes, and too much electrolyte depletion may result in a wide variety of ailments, such as extreme fatigue, heat stress or muscle tremors. There are many ways horses can be affected by lack of electrolytes, and there are nearly just as many methods of reversing this effect. Check out why maintaining an efficient electrolyte count is essential to your horse's performance, as well as how to boost consumption of this crucial mineral:
Understanding the role of electrolytes
Electrolytes serve as moving electric charges that play a number of important roles within the body. Minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, chloride and sodium are variations of electrolytes. Once they dissolve in the body's fluids, their purpose becomes to influence a number of priorities, ranging from monitoring the performance of bodily fluids to replenishing nerve and muscle function.
While the importance of electrolytes is essentially universal for all mammals, there is one primary difference between electrolyte production within horses and humans. According to Kentucky Equine Research, electrolytes in humans are more concentrated in the blood, whereas more electrolytes accumulate in sweat for horses. This means that during intense workouts or heat, horses will experience a greater loss of electrolytes than humans would in similar conditions.
This is why hydration is especially important for performance horses. According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners, if your horse is sweating profusely, efficient electrolyte supplementation will increase the quantity of water intake. If you're adding electrolyte supplements into your horse's water supply, you might need to also provide it with an extra tub of water that's supplement-free.
Quality electrolyte sources
Kentucky Equine Research also states that typical commercial feed and the occasional salt block can be plentiful sources of electrolytes with a horse that's in a resting state. It's recommended to begin adding electrolyte supplements to a horse's water supply whenever it has just completed extensive physical activity or if the climate is hotter than normal. If you need to find a sufficient electrolyte source, you can always go with Apple-A-Day™, a flavored electrolyte supplement that tastes great and gets the job done.