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In the past recommendations for electrolytes differed depending on the type of work the horse was doing. For example endurance horses were given acidic electrolyte solution with increased potassium levels to offset the alkalosis that occurred due to losing sweat over a long period.
Now the recommendation is to supplement electrolyte with the same formulation as horse sweat for all horses regardless of the work they are doing, but vary the amount given depending on the amount of sweating that is done.
Horse sweat is 10x the concentrations of human sweat! The main components are sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium and calcium. Horses can sweat 10-15 litres an hour, meaning they can lose a large volume of fluid rich in electrolytes that needs to be replaced in feed.
Horses don’t store sodium, potassium or chloride and so if they are sweating each day need to have these electrolytes replaced daily. Horses that are not involved in regular strenuous exercise and have access to good hay or pasture and a salt block are probably receiving adequate amounts of major elements.
Horses that sweat losing large amounts of sodium have a reduced thirst response e.g. when they should be drinking more, they don’t feel like they need a drink! Most importantly when horses have been working and you want to keep fluid intake up encourage drinking by supplying cool, clean fresh water.