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[RC] Endurance horse rehydration, part 2 - Dream Weaver

Body weight, fluid, electrolyte, and hormonal changes in horses competing in 50- and 100-mile endurance rides.
Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman 99164-6610, USA.


OBJECTIVE: To investigate effects of prolonged exercise on fluid and electrolyte losses in horses competing in 50- and 100-mile endurance competitions, with emphasis on recovery. ANIMALS: Changes in body weight (BW); PCV; serum osmolality; plasma total protein, lactate, aldosterone, and serum electrolyte concentrations; and exchangeable cation content were measured in 12 and 7 horses before and after and before, during, and after successful completion of 50- and 100-mile endurance rides, respectively. PROCEDURE: BW was measured by use of a portable load bar scale, and blood samples were collected during the hour before ride start, at ride finish, and after approximately 2 and 18 hours (overnight) of recovery for horses competing in the 50-mile ride. For horses competing in the 100-mile ride, BW was measured and blood samples were collected at the start; after 50, 67, and 84 miles of the ride; at the finish; and after approximately 12 hours (overnight) of recovery. RESULTS: BW decreased by (mean +/- SEM) 3.6 +/- 0.0% and 4.9 +/- 0.8% in horses that successfully completed rides of 50 and 100 miles, respectively. After the overnight recovery period, BW was 4.3 +/- 0.5% and 3.9 +/- 0.8% lower than preride values for horses performing the 50- and 100-mile rides, respectively. A decrease in plasma volume during the ride was reflected by an increase in plasma total protein concentration, but both measures returned to preride values after overnight recovery. Serum osmolality and serum electrolyte concentrations decreased and aldosterone concentration increased during prolonged exercise. Aldosterone concentration peaked after overnight recovery. CONCLUSION: Despite apparent rapid return of plasma volume and ionic composition to near normal values, substantial depletion of body fluid and electrolyte stores persists after an overnight recovery period in horses that successfully complete 50 or 100 miles of endurance competition.

Effects of electrolyte and glycerol supplementation on recovery from endurance exercise.
Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824-1314, USA.


Incomplete recovery from endurance exercise after an overnight rest period is reflected by persisting weight loss and an elevated plasma aldosterone concentration, even in successful competitors. To determine whether supplementation with high doses of electrolytes, with or without glycerol, enhances recovery, the following were measured in 6 Arabian horses before and after completion of a 60 km treadmill exercise test simulating an endurance ride and after 12, 24, 48, and 72 h of recovery: bodyweight; plasma osmolality; plasma concentrations of protein, electrolytes, aldosterone and cortisol; and urine and faecal electrolyte concentrations. Before and during the exercise test, horses were supplemented with a total of 2.4 ml/kg bwt of water (W); 0.2 g/kg bwt KCl and 0.4 g/kg bwt NaCl in 2.4 ml/kg bwt of water (E); or 0.2 g/kg bwt KCl and 0.4 g/kg bwt NaCl in 2.4 ml/kg bwt (3 g/kg bwt) of glycerol (GE). Although weight loss after completion of the simulated ride was greater (P < 0.01) for W (3.2%) than for E and GE (1.0 and 0.9%, respectively), horses supplemented with E or GE experienced further weight loss by 24 h after the simulated ride (2.2 and 2.1% for E and GE, respectively) while bodyweight with W remained unchanged (3.0%) from the finish value. After 48 h of recovery, bodyweight was not different from the starting values with E and GE but remained decreased (P < 0.01) with W throughout the recovery period (2.2% persisting weight loss after 72 h of recovery). Plasma osmolality and plasma Na+ and Cl- concentrations increased (P < 0.01) and plasma protein concentration decreased (P < 0.01) after the exercise test with E and GE but were unchanged with W. Plasma osmolality and protein and electrolyte concentrations returned to pre-exercise values within 12 h of recovery with the exception of a persistent increase in plasma Na+ concentration with GE. The greatest plasma aldosterone concentration was measured after 12 h of recovery with W (1357 pmol/l) and was greater (P < 0.02) than that with E and GE (24 and 304 pmol/l, respectively). Urine production during the simulated ride increased (P < 0.01) with GE and resulted in loss of approximately 20% and essentially 100% of supplemented Na+ and K+, respectively. In contrast, electrolyte losses in faeces were unaffected by electrolyte or glycerol supplementation. In conclusion, supplementation with high doses of electrolytes as hypertonic oral pastes attenuated weight loss during a simulated endurance ride (by enhancing voluntary water intake); however, it did not prevent development of significant weight loss during the initial 24 h of recovery. Glycerol administration resulted in no benefits, and actually increased urine electrolyte losses, in comparison to supplementation with electrolytes alone.

The effect of ambient temperature and saline loading on changes in plasma and urine electrolytes (Na+ and K+) following exercise.
Department of Animal Physiology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden.


In this study 4 Standardbred geldings (age 3-8 years, weight 431-531 kg) were used. The horses were fed a hay and oat diet and the total sodium intake was about 32 mg/kg bwt (690 mmol/day). An exercise test (ET) which contained 3 phases was performed. Phase I consisted of 23.5 min of mainly submaximal exercise, Phase 2 of 2 h of box rest and Phase 3 of 26 min of exercise including an intensive trot over 2600 m at 90% of VO2max. The ET was repeated 3 times: the first at 20 degrees C (30-40% RH), the second at 35 degrees C (30-40% RH) and the third at 35 degrees C (30-40% RH) after a nasogastric administration of 10 litres of 0.9% NaCl solution (35 degrees C and saline load [+ F]). Blood samples were taken before, during and after exercise. To measure fluid loss, horses were weighted before and after the ETs. Total urine output was determined 2 days before the ET (control), throughout the exercise day and for 2 days after (recovery days). There were an increase in blood and rectal temperatures after both exercise phases and a significant higher blood temperature was observed after exercise at 35 degrees C compared to 20 degrees C. The horses lost about 2% of their bodyweight (bwt) during the ETs. The plasma protein concentration increased during the exercise phases and remained elevated 2 h after exercise at both 20 degrees C and 35 degrees C, even though the horses had free access to water. The plasma protein concentration had returned to pre-exercise levels 26 h post exercise. After the saline load, total plasma protein concentration fell and increased only at the end of each exercise phase. The major mechanism regulating fluid balance after exercise seemed to be a lowered urinary excretion since water intake did not increase significantly. Urinary potassium excretion was positive throughout the experiment. During control days there was a positive sodium balance, shown by a urinary sodium excretion of 260 mmol/day. Post exercise urinary sodium excretion fell and remained very low until the second day of recovery, except after saline loading. In addition, plasma sodium was lowered 26 h after exercise at 35 degrees C. This study shows that with a daily salt intake of 38 g it will take several days to compensate for a sodium loss caused by sweating. Therefore, it is recommended that extra salt be given during the exercise day. In the experimental situation, pre-exercise saline supplementation was beneficial since the recovery time was shortened.

Restoration of water and electrolyte balance in horses after repeated exercise in hot and humid conditions.
Agricultural Research Centre, Ypaja, Finland.


Nine adult riding horses performed on a treadmill a competition exercise test (CET) and 24 h later a standardised exercise test (SET) at mean temperature 28 degrees C and relative humidity 58%. Each horse performed the tests 5 times at 2 week intervals. The horses were given isotonic glucose-electrolyte solution via a nasogastric tube 30 min after the CET, except after the last trial when water was given. Blood lactate, plasma concentration of aldosterone, arginine vasopressin, protein, sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium and calcium were measured. Heart rate at blood lactate concentration 4 mmol/l (PLa4) in the SET, plasma volume (PV) and red cell volume (CV) were determined. Mean weight loss after CET was 3.1% and did not change significantly during the study. Bodyweight loss (BWL2) before SET (-1.8% after the first trial) decreased linearly with time (P < 0.05) and was -0.8% after the fourth trial. After the fifth trial, when only water was given, the weight loss was -2.5%. PLa4 correlated significantly (P < 0.001) with BWL2 when BWL2 was greater than -1.2%. The horses acclimated to exercise in hot and humid conditions as indicated by better recovery of bodyweight, increased PV, lower peak lactate concentrations and heart rate and attenuated decrease in the concentrations of sodium and chloride. It is concluded that changes in bodyweight provide a good indication of recovery of horses after exercise in hot and humid conditions; and administration of an isotonic glucose-electrolyte rehydration solution after exercise helps to overcome dehydration better than water alone.

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