- 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.
- How much Endura-Max Plus Paste should I give my endurance horse during a competition?
For immediate supplementation or pre-loading prior to competition: ½ to 1 tube
During competition: 1 tube at each vet check
Always provide free-choice, clean water to horses receiving electrolyte supplementation.
- Is daily supplementation necessary for my endurance horse?
Daily supplementation of electrolytes to an endurance horse is discretionary. When horses sweat, they lose electrolytes and fluid. Daily temperature, humidity, and workload should be taken into consideration when supplementing with electrolytes.
Recommendations for daily supplementation with Endura-Max Plus Paste:
Horses in light endurance training should receive 1 tube per day.
Horses in moderate endurance training should receive 2 tubes per day, divided into two separate feedings.
Horses in heavy endurance training require 3 tubes per day, divided into three separate feedings.
Always provide free-choice, clean water to horses receiving electrolyte supplementation. Lack of adequate water in a diet supplemented with electrolytes may lead to dehydration and other serious metabolic disorders.
- How is Endura-Max Plus Paste uniquely formulated for endurance horses?
Endurance horses can accumulate excess gastric acid in their stomachs that can negatively affect performance. Under stressful conditions, such as during long training rides or competitions, plain electrolytes can further irritate the stomach. Endura-Max Plus Paste contains acid buffers that help maintain a healthy level of acid in the stomach, reducing the risk of discomfort that can sideline a horse.
Research has shown that not only do endurance horses deplete sodium, chloride, and potassium, but also high levels of calcium and magnesium. Because electrolyte balance is critical for maintenance of health and performance, replacement of all the lost electrolytes is crucial. Endura-Max Plus Paste is formulated to restore the key electrolytes lost in sweat, such as sodium, chloride, and potassium. Unlike other electrolytes, Endura-Max also replaces much needed calcium and magnesium.
- Can Endura-Max Plus Paste be used for horses other than endurance horses?
No. Endura-Max Plus Paste is a unique formula designed for the special needs of endurance horses. The long duration of work performed by these horses, often in hot, humid environments, results in unique metabolic conditions that are not typically experienced by other performance horses. Endura-Max Plus Paste provides additional calcium and magnesium that are required by horses participating in low-intensity, long-duration work. Kentucky Performance Products recommends the use of Summer Games® Plus Electrolyte Paste for performance horses other than endurance horses.
- 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.
- What causes gastric irritation in endurance horses?
Gastric irritation can be caused by excessive acid accumulation in the stomach. The acid irritates the stomach’s sensitive lining and causes discomfort. Research shows that ulcers can form in as little as three days once irritation occurs. The increased levels of stress an endurance horse faces as the result of shipping, intense training, and competition may increase their risk of developing gastric irritation. Horses with gastric irritation and ulcers may drop weight, become irritable, display a decreased level of performance, and have repeated bouts of mild colic.
- How does the buffer in Endura-Max Plus Paste work?
The ingredients in Endura-Max Plus Paste help maintain normal stomach pH by neutralizing excess gastric secretions. It supports stomach comfort by coating the sensitive tissues in the stomach.
- 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 meet the needs of the endurance horse, such as Endura-Max Plus Paste, 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 Endura-Max Plus Paste. 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.
- How do I know if my horse is working hard enough to require electrolyte supplementation?
Any level of work produces body heat and subsequent sweating. The sweat may be evaporating before you see it. Also 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 Endura-Max Plus Paste is appropriate.
- 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. If a horse refuses or is unable to drink, consult with your veterinarian immediately.
- What is the visible difference in horses receiving electrolyte supplementation?
Horses offered the appropriate well-balanced electrolytes tend to recover from hard exercise sooner, return to feed quicker, and begin the necessary rebuilding phase that occurs after exertion.