Frequently asked questions about Summer Games® Electrolyte

Why is electrolyte supplementation important?

Electrolytes perform critical functions within the horse’s body. They help regulate nerve and muscle functions by carrying electrical impulses between cells. In addition, they assist the body in maintaining fluid balance. Under normal circumstances, well-nourished, sedentary horses have little trouble keeping electrolytes at appropriate levels without additional supplementation. This does not, however, hold true for equine athletes or horses maintained in hot, humid environments. Horses cool themselves through sweating. Those that are exercised regularly at moderate to high levels of intensity may lose more electrolytes through sweat than their bodies are capable of replacing. In these instances, electrolyte supplementation is important. Adequate electrolyte supplementation also prevents dehydration by increasing the thirst response.

When significant losses in electrolytes and fluid are not prevented through adequate electrolyte supplementation, neuromuscular disturbances such as muscle cramping, muscle fatigue, tying-up, and synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (thumps) may occur. Even in mild forms these conditions can have a negative impact on a horse’s ability to perform at optimal levels and recover from exercise.

 

Some electrolytes contain a lot of sugar. Does Summer Games?

No. Summer Games is a concentrated source of both the electrolytes and trace minerals lost in sweat. It contains a minimal amount of sugar. Summer Games electrolyte was specifically formulated using the results of extensive research studies investigating the composition of sweat.

 

When do horses need Summer Games?

Electrolyte supplementation is indicated anytime a horse sweats repeatedly in a day or consistently over the course of several days, regardless of season. Supplementation is appropriate if sweat appears:

  • during or after training sessions or competitions
  • while being transported, regardless of the length of trip
  • when a horse is placed in unfamiliar surroundings such as temporary stabling
  • when a horse is standing in his stall or turned out in his paddock on hot and humid days

In very dry climates or during cold weather, sweat may evaporate quickly, allowing riders to underestimate the amount of sweat loss. Always take humidity levels and temperature into consideration when supplementing with electrolytes.

During the cold winter months, 1/2 to 1 oz of Summer Games can be supplemented daily to stimulate a horse’s thirst response. Proper hydration in the winter decreases the risk of impaction colic.

Important Note:

Always provide free-choice, clean water to horses receiving electrolyte supplementation. Do not offer electrolytes to a horse that cannot or is unwilling to drink without first consulting a veterinarian.

 

 

How do I know if my horse requires electrolyte supplementation?

Any level of work or stress produces body heat and subsequent sweating, so any horse that sweats needs to replenish lost electrolytes. In some cases the sweat may be evaporating before you see it. Take into consideration factors such as the time your horse spends in a trailer or tied to the trailer at an event during the heat of the day. The stress of unfamiliar environments alone can cause your horse to sweat. Under any of these circumstances, the electrolytes that are lost in sweat cannot be replaced from the daily ration of grain and forage alone, and supplementation with Summer Games is appropriate.

How much and how often should I supplement with Summer Games?

Summer Games can be used as a daily supplement. Because of its concentrated formula it is easy to adjust the level of supplementation to meet your horse’s individual needs. The amount of supplementation will depend on the level of work and the intensity of the heat and humidity the horse is working in.

Below is a chart that will help you to estimate the workload your horse is under. Always take temperature and humidity levels into consideration when supplementing with an electrolyte. Horses will sweat more in hot, humid climates. When it is very dry or cold, sweat may evaporate quickly and be less noticeable.

Level of workNormal
Environment
(oz/day)
Hot,
Humid Environment
(oz/day)
Rest01
Light Work11-2
Moderate Work22-3
Heavy Work33-4

Administer no more than 2 oz in a single offering.

Guidelines for determining workload level

Light Work:

Visible Sweat (up to 5 liters sweat loss)

For example: dressage, western and English pleasure, trail horses, equitation, etc.

Moderate Work:

Dripping Sweat (5-10 liters sweat loss)

For example: jumping horses, racehorses, barrel racing, cutting, roping, etc.

Heavy Work:

Dripping Sweat for Extended Periods (more than 10 liters sweat loss)

For example: upper level three-day event, western performance horses, polo ponies

Is there another way to estimate electrolyte loss?

Electrolyte requirements can be determined by measuring sweat loss. Fluid loss can be estimated by measuring body weight loss with this simple formula: 1 kg (2.2 lb) body weight loss = 0.9 liters (approx. 1 quart) body water loss, so an 11-lb body weight loss = approximately 5 liters sweat loss (light work) = 2 oz per day of Summer Games.

Weighing your horse before and after a work session will give you some idea of how much weight or fluid loss has occurred.

Important Note:

Always provide free-choice, clean water to horses receiving electrolyte supplementation. Do not offer electrolytes to a horse that cannot or is unwilling to drink without first consulting a veterinarian.

 

Can I use Summer Games in the winter to keep my horse drinking?

Yes, during the cold winter months ½ to 1 oz of Summer Games can be supplemented daily to stimulate a horse’s thirst response. It is extremely important that horses have an ice-free source of fresh water at all times during the winter. Proper hydration in the winter decreases the risk of impaction colic. Research has shown that horses prefer tepid water during cold weather. The average horse should consume about 10-12 gallons of water per day; more if they are working. A typical water bucket holds 5 gallons of water.

What are electrolytes?

Electrolytes are substances that dissociate in solution into electrically charged particles called ions. The major electrolytes are sodium (Na), potassium (K), chloride (Cl) and magnesium (Mg). Calcium is a mineral that is important in the proper function of muscles during exercise.

What is the role of electrolytes?

Electrolytes play an important role in maintaining osmotic pressure (which regulates the flow of water in and out of the cells in the body), fluid balance, and normal nerve and muscle activity.

How does exercise cause dehydration?

Horses generate a tremendous amount of heat in their bodies when they exercise or when they are stressed. When the core body temperature rises, the sweat response is triggered. Sweat is nature’s way of cooling the horse’s body through evaporation off the surface of the skin and it helps keep his core temperature at normal levels. Sweat is made up of fluid and electrolytes, so when horses sweat they lose both water and minerals. Exercise can lead to dehydration when a horse is unable to rehydrate adequately during and after exercise. Dehydration leads to a change in osmotic pressure that signals the metabolic system to begin shutting down. It also decreases the thirst response so horses stop drinking, making matters worse. We have learned that proper hydration is extremely important not only to optimal performance but to the overall well-being of the horse. The administration of a well-balanced electrolyte developed to replenish the electrolytes and trace minerals lost in sweat, such as Summer Games, will lower the risk of exercise-induced dehydration.

How do electrolytes keep horses drinking?

Thirst, the desire to drink, is stimulated when electrolyte concentrations in the blood rise, signaling the body to get a drink. That is why you are thirsty after a salty meal. In the horse, when large proportions of electrolytes are lost due to sweating, the concentrations of electrolytes in the blood remain static and even though the horse is dehydrated he does not get the physiological signal to drink. By replacing the electrolytes lost during sweating, the signal to drink remains “turned on.” Since the ratio of electrolytes is critical to maintaining the correct electrolyte balance, it is important to offer an electrolyte that provides the correct electrolytes in the proper ratios, such as Summer Games. It is also very important to always provide free-access, fresh water when a horse is being supplemented with electrolytes.

What happens without electrolytes?

Loss of electrolytes causes fatigue and muscle weakness, and decreases the thirst response. Horses are at high risk of developing dehydration that can lead to neuromuscular disorders, colic, and other life-threatening conditions.

What will happen if I give my horse too much electrolyte supplementation?

The most important thing to remember when supplementing a horse’s diet with electrolytes is to provide free-choice, clean water. In situations where electrolytes are given in excess of requirements, the horse’s system will filter the unused minerals and excrete the excess in the urine. As long as plenty of water is provided to wash away the excess, the potential for harm is minimal. Do not offer electrolytes to a horse that refuses or is unable to drink without first consulting with your veterinarian.

What is the visible difference in horses receiving electrolyte supplementation?

Horses offered the appropriate well-balanced electrolyte and trace mineral supplement, such as Summer Games, tend to recover from hard exercise sooner, return to feed quicker, and begin the necessary rebuilding phase that occurs after exertion.

How is Summer Games different from Endura-Max?

Summer Games was developed as a multi-purpose electrolyte for use in all types of horses, from weekend warriors to highly competitive Olympic-level athletes. Because it is concentrated it is easy to adjust the level of supplementation to meet each horse’s individual needs.

Endura-Max was formulated specifically for endurance horses. The amount of sweat loss in an endurance horse far exceeds that of any other sport horse. During long rides, calcium and magnesium may be lost in amounts high enough to cause metabolic disorders. Endura-Max contains added calcium and magnesium in highly available forms.

 

 

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