As a horse exercises its muscles generate heat. To prevent its body from dangerously overheating, the horse sweats to allow evaporative cooling to dissipate the heat being produced. As a horse sweats, water and electrolytes, including sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium and calcium are lost from the body.
For effective sweating to occur, the horse must be well hydrated and have an ample supply of electrolytes in its body. The electrolytes and water lost through sweating must be replaced during exercise to prevent electrolyte depletion and dehydration. This newsletter will look at what electrolytes are and why they are important, how much ‘electrolyte’ a horse needs, where horses get electrolytes from in the diet and when to use an electrolyte supplement.