In addition to looking after yourself in this hot weather it is essential to look after your horses. Access to plentiful fresh water is essential but for those in work especially it is also important to supplement your horse’s diet with electrolytes.
Electrolytes are more than just normal ‘salt’ (sodium chloride) with the most important elements being Sodium, Potassium, Chloride, Magnesium and Calcium. In normal weather your horse will generally intake enough of these elements through their daily diet. In hotter weather when your horse will not be acclimatised they will sweat more and when sweating will lose a good proportion of these elements creating an imbalance.
Electrolytes are important as they help regulate the correct balance of fluids within the body which is effectively the hydration level. If electrolytes are incorrectly balanced due to excessive sweating then just providing water will not be sufficient to rehydrate.
The easiest way to keep electrolytes levels balanced is with a supplement that can be added to either feed or water. Our supporters Equimins produce an Electro Salt supplement Revitalyte which contains a balanced combination of the essential electrolytes. Pastes including Equimins Electrolyte paste are also available when a horse has experienced particularly heavy work and electrolyte loss although it is important to carefully follow the dosage instructions as too large a dose can short term increase the symptoms of dehydration.
It is sensible to provide additional electrolytes in hot weather before and after exercise as per the advised dosage to help maintain the balance as effectively as possible. They shouldn’t to be confined to use only in hot weather though and it is sensible to provide them as part of the regular diet to horses in heavy exercise. Additionally you can provide salt and mineral licks which a horse can choose to lick on an ad-lib basis. Generally only a horse with an electrolyte deficiency will choose to lick a salt lick in the same way humans get salt cravings therefore it can be telling that a horse’s diet is lacking and should be adjusted accordingly.