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Re: [RC] Electrolytes - Jen

OK, so we have only done one at a "longer" distance - 25 miles.  So far her 
appetite was JUST FINE!!! (I like to call her "Chunky Monkey", it suits her 
looks and personality!) She drank OK on the trail and ate everything in front 
of her - just grass hay, some apples and alfalfa pellets for treats (at halfway 
hold and after ride).  Gotlands can get fat on thistles and air - so they are 
on a pretty restricted diet - usually just grass hay, and careful of amount of 
grazing she does - the breeder had a mare founder on too much grass - and so is 
very careful.  She ate probably equivalent hay to 1-2 flakes (from a small 
square bale). 

She sweated a lot, so that is why they recommended giving her some electrolytes 
(they being other riders, and vet said OK to give since you cannot overdose on 
electrolytes, will just excrete extra - so long as is otherwise fine!)  She 
wasn't at all tired, just wet and hungry and thirsty after the ride.  Her gut 
sounds decreased to a B after the ride (A's at beginning and hold).  What does 
this indicate to you? Tiredness, therefore gut shutting down, not lack of 

I do understand you can overdo electroytes, especially if dehydrated.  What 
other damage can high levels cause?

You said there are electrolytes in forage, are there still high enough levels 
in hay?  Or is it stronger in grass?

So, would a good plan be to not buy any, ride a few rides, see how she does, 
and borrow some if needed on a ride?  Are they that expensive?  Or should I 
have some on hand, just in case she might need?  My personality is a "just in 
case" kinda girl, I'd rather spend a bit extra, and have something on hand (I 
hate mooching!)  And if I never need, that's just fine with me!

Oh, this electrolyte thing is confusing me!  Sorry if I am asking too many 


From: Steph Teeter <stephteeter@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
I want to heartily second what Heidi has said here!! While horses can  
and do develop electrolyte deficiencies in our sport, the most common  
metabolic problems are exhaustion (lack of energy) and dehydration.   
And often the reason a horse quits eating is because of exhaustion -  
when energy is low and muscles fatigue, blood is shunted to the  
muscles, at the expense of the stomach and intestines and the gut  
will 'shut down'.  

If you are new to the sport, learn about your horse gradually - and  
with fitness and experience you will develop a better feeling for  
your horse's capability and needs.  


On Apr 29, 2008, at 10:47 AM, heidi@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:

What is unfortunately NOT pointed out often enough is that  
electrolytes are present in food (especially in forages) and that  
horses that eat well consume more than enough electrolytes to  
replenish all but the worst of electrolyte losses.  

Allowing some time for your horse to get used to the excitement of the 
sport and to learn to eat well in spite of it is key. 

While there are a few horses that truly need supplementation in  
most conditions, and many that benefit from supplementation in  
extreme conditions, you need to first get to know your horse before  
you start using supplements.  Electrolytes are NOT completely  
innocuous--they CAN be overdone and cause problems.  


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