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Clover/nitrogen rich soils/electrolytes
Ellen Tully asked me if her nitrogen rich soil could have contributed
to "tying up"/electrolyte problems such as observed at the Biltmore. She also
noted her horses drank more water when on dry clover than when grazing
fresh clover. My answer to her:
Nitrogen rich soil will result in higher protein the the
forages grown on it, of which clover concentrates the highest levels
(25-30% protein on a dry
matter basis). Fresh clover is only 30% dry matter-the rest water, whereas
hay is 90 % dry matter-horses on dry hay of any type will always drink more
than when on lush pasture. Indeed in a study of three day event horses that
that were on 24 hour pasture during training but fed only dry forages at
were much more likely to have metabolic problems than those adapted to dry
forages at home.
My interpretation: they weren't accustomed to habving to drink so much water.
When protein is fed in excess of amino acid needs (8-10% in the total
ration, depending on
protein quality) the excess absorbed amino acids are converted to
ammonia by deaminazation, primarily in the liver, which releases a bit of
heat in the process.
The ammonia is converted to urea and excreted by the kidneys (resulting in
strong smelling urine). Clover is also very high in calcium and potassium.
Both can be
absorbed in excess of needs and must be excreted by the kidneys (the "milky"
color you have probably noted in some horses urine is actually calcium
Therefore horses on large amounts of clover have a slightly increased heat
must produce more urine to excrete the urea and calcium plus get very
eliminating potassium. When your horses are on a lot of clover (or alfalfa)
they drink more water
-they are making more urine and perhaps are sweating slightly more,
losses are greater. The whole goal of your horse's metabolism is to
maintain balances wherein
excesses or deficits are avoided.
Is this bad? Well, it depends-if they are accustomed to excess Ca and protein
intakes all of their hormonal systems are geared to excrete-hard to
suddenly reverse if losses
are increased (sweating a lot) and intake is down (no clover on the ride).
It is best to
adapt the horses to the feeds they will receive at a ride well in advance
of a competition.
I shie away from high protein/calcium feeds during training and supplement
home in much lower amounts than I would do at a ride to try to get Fling
adapted to conserve rather than excrete.
May not be the total answer but it works for me.
We are a long way from having all the answers. I worry about people
trying to micro manage nutrients (giving single amino acids or just
potassium without sodium)
when we don't know the macro needs!
Bonnie Snodgrass asked about electroltyes: My answer, editted a bit:
Basically I've found that Fling needs a different recipe depending on her
If she's "mind farting" - hyper, white sweat, she needs more potassium and
than is in my "usual" recipe. There was a study done long ago that reported
"nervous" sweat had a high concentration of potassium than heat induced
The "Northern Lytes" from Trish Dowling in Saskatoon seemed to work well
last year but
I haven't gotten any for this year, yet. Most of the talk about potassium
and chloride on ridecamp
is on target-plenty in the grass and hay but losses are also high. But
don't forget the sodium!! It is by
far the mineral with the greatest losses and least available in normal
feeds. My regular electrolyte
recipe is 1 lb NaCl, 11-12 ounces Morten Lite salt, 2 ounces (60 gm)calcium
tablets with about 4
ounces of Blackstrap molasses (high in potassium and calcium) and water
sufficient to make it easy
to draw up in a dose syringe. I double the calcium and molasses for my
"mind fart" recipe.
Not very scientific but it seems to work for Fling, so far this year. Gayle
Eckers brand of
electrolytes also has been reported to be good-She's certainly done the
However, we are a long way, I think, from being able to truly
our horses-blood work, as discussed before, does not reflect whole body
staus for calcium,
potassium or chloride! Hopefully more studies will be done.
The problem is that horses are true individuals, what works for Fling may
appropriate for you horse. There are so many variables-climate,
temperament, genetics...Like some one said on Ridecamp, just thinking about
me a migraine! I think people nowadays tend to over do it-and try to
when we don't even know the macros! My motto: KEEP IT SIMPLE! Emphasize
good quality forage
and feeds, supplement only balanced mixtures of minerals or electrolytes
and avoid adding too
many extraneous things to the horse's feed. The only single nutrients Fling
gets are Vitamin C
and E and then only at competitions...
Hope this helps. Caveat: Remember Fling and I are turtles, therefore what I
have found to work
may not apply to the hares, but I have seen enough top tenners that apply
the same principles to
believe it has some validity.
Fling (Hey, Mom-it took you long enough to even begin to
understand my needs and now you're once again giving advice
to others??? You're nuts but I love you anyway)
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