Electrolyte Primer

The equine body requires electrolytes; their levels govern functions ranging from muscle contraction to fluid transfer between cells to hydration.
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Electrolyte Primer
The average pleasure horse or light competitor can replenish most of his depleted electrolyte stores with a balanced diet along with fresh water and loose or block salt. | Photo: Thinkstock

Not every horse requires supplementation with these molecules that regulate water content, but some steeds do–here’s what to consider.

The equine body requires electrolytes; their levels govern functions ranging from muscle contraction to fluid transfer between cells to hydration. The average pleasure horse or light competitor can replenish most of his depleted electrolyte stores with a balanced diet along with fresh water and loose or block salt. However, “extreme athletes” such as racehorses and endurance mounts might require help getting all the electrolytes they need to perform and recover effectively.

It Does Their Bodies Good

There’s an essential difference between naturally occurring electrolytes and electrolyte supplements provided to horses, according to Elizabeth Carr, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, ACVECC, associate professor of large animal medicine at Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

“Electrolytes, in ther simplest form, are just molecules that regulate water content within the body,” says Carr. “They’re also important in generating electrical potentials (charges) across membranes, which are responsible for nerve conduction and muscle function as well as transport of molecules

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