Electrolytes or not? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 08-14-2013, 12:49 PM Thread Starter
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Question Electrolytes or not?

I've been debating back and forth for quite some time now about whether or not to give my horse electrolytes or not. He currently is getting 2 tablespoons of salt a day. I have read various different articles about it on the internet, and some recommend them while others say they can be dangerous to a horse.

I was thinking of just giving him some on days we work really hard when its hot out(i.e: going xc schooling, long trail rides, horse shows). What do you guys think? And are there any recommendations? My current trainer isn't any help, if she had it her way he would only be getting 4 flakes of alfalfa a day.
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post #2 of 11 Old 08-14-2013, 12:57 PM
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It depends on your horse. Some horses need it while others don't. I would say if you work your horse in a regular basis (5-6 days a week) and your horse is a heavy sweater, then yes. Is your horse getting loose salt in addition to a salt lick?

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post #3 of 11 Old 08-14-2013, 01:08 PM
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Just plain water for our horses and we've never had a problem.
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post #4 of 11 Old 08-14-2013, 03:17 PM
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I agree it depends on the horse.

I have one who never has been much of a sweater. Last year, when he was 18, he had a mild anhydrosis attack. I started him on electrolytes right away and he was fine the rest of that brutally hot/humid summer.

This year, I didn't wait, I went ahead and started him on electrolytes soon as the temps got above 80. He drinks more, eats more salt, and he's been fine all summer. I will take him off when the weather cool down.

If your horse were to develop diarrhea from the electrolytes, he's getting too much and cut him back until his manure becomes solid again

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post #5 of 11 Old 08-15-2013, 01:55 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, he gets 2 tablespoons of salt a day in his grain. He has a salt lick, but I've never seen him use it so I decided to start feeding loose salt instead.

Thanks for the advice, everyone. He does get worked 5 days a week, but I wouldn't call him a heavy sweater. I think I'm going to pass on the extra electrolytes for now. Thanks again :)
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post #6 of 11 Old 08-15-2013, 03:21 PM
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horses need more than salt. other compounds make up electrolytes.
There is some in grass and various feeds. Comercial horse elytes are not that expensive, look for ones without sodium bicarbonate, also on your lick get the ones made for horses, Those big solid red ones are made for cattle.
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post #7 of 11 Old 08-15-2013, 10:32 PM
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I only use electrolytes when competing in the heat. Cross country in summer is not fun for either of us if we are dehydrated.

My horses have 24/7 access to a mineral salt lick for horses. One uses it more than the other - he is the heavier sweater.

I have never had a problem using that method. :)

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post #8 of 11 Old 08-15-2013, 10:50 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe4d View Post
horses need more than salt. other compounds make up electrolytes.
There is some in grass and various feeds. Comercial horse elytes are not that expensive, look for ones without sodium bicarbonate, also on your lick get the ones made for horses, Those big solid red ones are made for cattle.

I have done a lot of research on the topic after posting on here, and the majority of articles I came across said that salt is the MAIN electrolyte horses need and that too many horse owners go over the top with giving electrolytes. There are other electrolytes that horses have readily available to them (phosphorus and calcium are the only ones I can remember now). They don't need as much of the other electroytes as they do sodium chloride (AKA salt, but technically phosphorous and calcium form salts too). However when horses don't have enough sodium chloride in their diet, then their body resorts to using the potassium and calcium for jobs that NaCl would do if the horse had enough of it. This is the time when horses need salt and additional electrolytes in their diet - at least according to the online research I have done.

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Originally Posted by NaeNae87 View Post
I only use electrolytes when competing in the heat. Cross country in summer is not fun for either of us if we are dehydrated.

My horses have 24/7 access to a mineral salt lick for horses. One uses it more than the other - he is the heavier sweater.

I have never had a problem using that method. :)
I plan on purchasing a jar of powdered electrolytes for days where we do strenuous activity (i.e: cross country schooling) in the extreme heat. I just won't be giving him them on a daily or weekly basis. I've purchased a mineral (yes, one made for horses...according to the feed store anyways) lick for him but I never saw him actually using it! I'm interning at a vet clinic and I brought it up with the tech - she recommended either getting a vitamin/mineral supplement or using a grain that was fortified with essential vitamins and minerals (I think she recommended Strategy, but I'm still trying to figure out if which route will be more cost effective)

In all honesty this horse was my trainers horse, but now I am taking him with me to college. He was mainly used as a lesson horse, never anything too serious, and all he got was 4 flakes of alfalfa a day (no salt, no vitamins/minerals, nothing extra). I know that diet sounds cringe-worthy, but he has had issues requiring vet care only twice in the 10 years I have known him (for a sarcoid to be removed and the second time he got a deep cut on his coronary ban). But now that I am taking over his care and am going to be asking a lot more of him, I want to make sure his body has everything it needs so he can comfortably perform the best that he can.
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post #9 of 11 Old 08-15-2013, 11:24 PM
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Can you chuck a mineral salt lick in the bottom of his feed bin? That way as he is eating dinner he will be getting salt too? :)
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post #10 of 11 Old 08-15-2013, 11:34 PM Thread Starter
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I give him 2 tablespoons of salt in his grain and he eats it. He just wouldn't LICK the salt lick, haha. I'm still looking into getting him an additional vitamin/mineral supplement and adding that to his daily grain. He only gets grain once a day, otherwise he is just gets WAY to hot.

I just wish my trainer (she also owns the property and is in charge of the barn/feedings of where he is kept) was up for more suggestions on what to give him.
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