During this time of year, the weather is (usually..) warmer, the suns rays are stronger, and our horses produce more sweat, whether during work or in a sunny paddock. One of the most important aspects of your horses dietary requirements is water, quite like us, water makes up around 70% of their body weight. Signs of lack of water are spotted as initially a reduced appetite and poor performance, however, longer term a horse can become depressed, suffer bone and cartilage damage and ultimately a severe lack of hydration can become fatal.

Did you know?

Research has now also linked a lack of fresh water directly to an increase in gastric ulcers.

For all these reasons it’s vital that your horse always has clean, fresh water available in both the field and stable. As water is lost through sweat it is essential that we replace it. However not just the water but also the essential body salts, or electrolytes, that are lost alongside through sweat.

When it comes to general maintenance, free access to a salt lick in the field and stable can be a great way to allow your horse or pony access to one of the top and most important electrolytes, sodium chloride. We have some great options for both in the stable and in the field below:

    However, we should not rely on horses self-supplementing their salt intake when in field or stable. For working horses, we should ensure that broad spectrum electrolytes are added to feed or water which provide all essential body salts, i.e. sodium, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and chloride. Failure to replace these body salts can affect the thirst mechanism by failure to replace lost water, thus leaving the horse dehydrated. It’s worth noting that electrolytes must be fed in a way that works with the body, or more damage can be done. For example, using a very concentrated form of electrolytes can actually draw water out of the gut as it passes through, hence leaving the horse more dehydrated than before. Added to that is the abrasive nature of concentrated salt, and this has been identified as a risk factor for gastric ulcers.

    For horses out competing regularly, an electrolyte that can be easily dissolved into water can be a quick way to rehydrate at the end of a competition day. If your horse is not one for drinking when out at shows or away from home, popping electrolytes into a well soaked feed can be a tasty way to re-hydrate your horse.

    Don’t forget to think about you!

    We, as horse lovers, can often neglect our own needs when focusing so much on our furry friends. If you are out riding, or at a show, try to remember to keep hydrated with water and isotonic sports drink to replace your lost electrolytes. This will help you much better than reaching for a quick fizzy drink!