How to replace your horse's electrolytes

Jane Buchan from Baileys horse feeds advises on how to aid your horse's recovery and replenish its electrolytes.

What are electrolytes?

Electrolytes are minerals in your horse's body that have an electric charge. They are found in body fluids and maintaining the right balance of electrolytes is important to help muscle action and to ensure the body keeps functioning correctly.

What are the signs of electrolyte deficiency?

  • Dark urine
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Lethargy
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite

Baileys say: “Electrolyte inefficiency can lead to general and muscle fatigue as well as inability to concentrate and reduced co-ordination, all of which are not good news for a horse who is expected to perform over long periods. Consider the effects of a hangover in humans, which are in the main due to dehydration (fluid loss) caused by alcohol consumption, and you can appreciate how a horse could feel!”

Take care of your horse

During exercise, electrolytes are lost through sweating. Lack of electrolytes causes dehydration and can impair performance. Providing your horse with water alone could make things worse as the water will dilute sodium levels further. Instead, give your horse a solution made of water and added electrolytes to help him recover.

If your horse won’t drink water containing electrolytes, they can be administered in feed or via a syringe directly into the horse’s mouth. However, feed must be made wet and the horse must have access to water.