An increase in body temperature, either as a result of exercise, travelling or high environmental temperature will cause the horse to sweat. The evaporation of this sweat helps the horse to cool down and regulate his body temperature.
Sweating causes fluid loss, together with the loss of body salts called electrolytes, contained in the sweat.
A horse in moderate work, trotting and cantering, can lose as much as 5-7 litres of fluid, and 50-70g electrolytes in an hour, and this will increase as the work intensity or duration increases, and even more if the weather is hot and humid!
The important electrolytes are:
Sodium and Chloride, Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium
Electrolytes play key roles in muscle contraction, the nervous system, and maintaining the fluid balance around cells, and very importantly, the concentration of sodium controls the horse’s thirst response. This is especially notable, as a significant loss of electrolytes can actually reduce the horse’s desire to drink, even when he has lost a large amount of fluid and is at risk of becoming dehydrated.
If the lost fluid and electrolytes are not replaced, the horse will begin to suffer from dehydration, affecting performance and resulting in symptoms of fatigue and reduced exercise tolerance, and ultimately more serious conditions affecting muscles and the ability to perform.
Because horse sweat contains a higher concentration of sodium and chloride than his other body fluids, it is important that electrolytes are provided at the correct concentrations to ensure that the desire to drink is maintained, so fluid balance AND electrolyte losses can be restored to promote recovery, and ensure continued optimum performance. This is especially important during longer show or events, when performance may decline if electrolyte and fluid balance are not restored.
Electrolyte replacement to restore losses and encourage water intake are important for all horses and ponies who sweat – from Pony Club ponies working hard at rallies in the Summer, through to globe-trotting International eventers, showjumpers and dressage horses!
Apple Lytes have been carefully formulated to replace the key electrolytes and encourage drinking to help prevent dehydration and maintain peak performance all season.
Apple Lytes are highly palatable, with an appetising cherry flavour, and should be introduced gradually at home, mixed in feed, building up to the recommended level when required after periods of sweating, with fresh water always available.