RECHARGING THE BATTERIES
Electrolytes are minerals---calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, chloride, bicarbonate and phosphate --- that play a role in most of the electrochemical processes that sustain life. And all are lost in prodigious quantities when a horse sweats. Fortunately, a horse can replenish his internal mineral supplies as he grazes or eats his normal feeds. Sometimes, however, administering an electrolyte supplement may be advisable to help a sweaty horse recover faster. Which of these horses is the best candidate for electrolyte supplementation?
a. the fit athlete completing a 50mile endurance course
b. the fretful traveler coming off a trailer after a long ride to the show
c. the “weekend warrior” finishing a trail ride on a humid day
d. all of the above Answer: d. all of the above. The common denominator among these horses is that all are likely to have been sweating for an extended period of time—at least an hour or two—without the opportunity to eat or drink. And all could deplete their internal electrolytes to critical levels, potentially causing fatigue, muscle tremors, heat stress and other problems. Equine athletes such as eventers or endurance horses are obvious candidates for electrolyte supplementation, but any show or pleasure horse who works and sweats extensively in hot weather can also benefit.