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This is a discussion on Electrolytes? within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category

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  • 1 Post By BarrelRacingLvr

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    07-20-2013, 05:27 PM
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The same questions keep coming up for me whenever I read threads pertaining to electrolytes...so instead of hijacking a thread, I'll ask my questions here:

Basically, what makes electrolytes so much more "special" than just loose salt?

I feed loose salt as a top dressing for my mare's ration balancer [Triple Crown 30%] and, depending on the temperature/humidity of the day, she gets between 1tbsp and 4-5tbsp salt daily.

Do electrolytes really help? Is loose salt just fine on its own? Should I be feeding a 'real' electrolyte?
Or, since she's on an RB, would that get redundant? Are the minerals and such in an electrolyte mix super different than the minerals in an RB?
Seriously, I know nothing. Couldn't tell, could you?

I've noticed a real improvement in her ability to deal with the heat since adding salt and since she, generally, deals terribly with heat anyway...any improvement is great!
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    07-20-2013, 08:05 PM
Green Broke
Salt is just sodium cloride, horses also need magnesium, potassium, and calcium. That's what makes elyte blends better than plain salt.
Can't remember the specifics but pretty sure the horse can't absorb the sodium without calcium.
    07-20-2013, 10:08 PM
Electrolytes are pretty vital because salt is just that...salt. Electrolytes have ALL the other minerals the horses need and they they sweat out. When feeding just loose salt your not putting those other vitamins and minerals back in the body. And my horses have access to salt and a mineral block 24/7 but I still feed Electrolytes because they hardly lick their blocks.
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    07-20-2013, 11:31 PM
Green Broke
Basically what Joe said. Horses lose more than just sodium chloride (table salt) when they sweat. Even with a salt and/or mineral block offered, horses don't lick off enough to fulfill their needs. Horses are very inefficient sweaters compared to people... And basically everything else. Horses can lose gallons of sweat daily, along with proportionally large amounts of sodium chloride, calcium, potassium...

Also, I'm fairly sure ration balancer doesn't contain sufficient electrolytes.

I have Kitty on two tablespoons of normal salt daily. She gets "real" electrolyte if I work her. Baby Girl gets an ounce of "real" electrolyte daily. Apple-a-day. I would do the same for Kitty if I could afford it -- it's preferable. But I play favorites.

If I'm feeling super cheap, I make my own ghetto homemade electrolyte:

2 parts table salt
2 parts Lite salt
1 part Dolomite (natural calcium/magnesium) Tums antacids are also used in place of the Dolomite for the calcium and protection of the stomach.

Better than normal table salt. Not as close to the content of real horse sweat as some "real" electrolytes. But heck.
    07-21-2013, 02:18 AM

I was always told to give sea salt as opposed to table salt due to the iodine in the table salt. I was told by one vet to just give the lose sea salt on my horse's food and I tried that but found she did much better on a commercial electrolyte powder sprinkled on her food. Just be careful that the electrolyte doesn't have a bunch of sugar in it as many do. (unless it is okay for your horse to have sugar). The electrolytes are given separate from the RB because they don't hold up mixed with other things from what I have learned from the Platinum Performance people when I was trying to get it all mixed into one.
    07-21-2013, 04:08 AM
Green Broke
Ever played sports and had a coach tell you to eat a bannana after practice to prevent heat cramps ? Same same, bannanas full of potassium. WHich is one of the elytes you are sweating out. Its very possible your horse is getting all the other elytes in his feed and grass and all he needs extra is the salt. Depends on work load.
    07-21-2013, 08:01 PM
Great responses. Purchasing a tub of electrolytes is quite cheap if you go to your local tack store. You can purchase a tub that will last you 4-6 weeks(if fed regularly), for just $15 or so. Luckily it's not an expensive supplement to purchase and it will include everything your horse needs.
    07-22-2013, 01:34 AM
Electrolytes are minerals that regulate muscle and nerve function as well as blood volume and ph. The principle minerals are sodium, chloride (salt) and potassium. Other minerals that are needed in smaller amounts include Ca, P, Mg, Zn, Cu, Mn and Fe. Forages are high in K and Cl but very low in Na. No naturally occurring horse feed products are adequate or high in Na so one must add salt to the diet. If you are feeding hay with the TC 30, you are going to meet all the other minerals needed so all you need to add is plain old white salt. Plain old white salt runs about $.16/# so for pennies a day, he's got everything he needs. There a reason commercially prepared electrolyte products are as much as 70% salt. That's what they are lacking. You're also paying $2/# for that salt. I would prefer to let him free feed on the salt (as long as he doesn't either eat it like candy or totally ignore it) that to try and figure out what he needs. Some days depending upon workload and weather his demands will change. Let him self regulate. He needs to be in good sodium balance before the heavy workouts and hot weather.

Quick comparison on one mineral K in Apple Dex vs TC 30.
AD is 11%. In a 2 oz portion (56 g) that's 6 g.
TC is 4%. In a 1 # portion (454 g) that's 18 g.
You can do this with all the minerals you are looking at and the RB is going to provide much, much more.
    07-22-2013, 01:37 AM
Originally Posted by Wallaby    
The same questions keep coming up for me whenever I read threads pertaining to electrolytes...so instead of hijacking a thread, I'll ask my questions here:

Basically, what makes electrolytes so much more "special" than just loose salt?

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