Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Electrolyte protocol

In the comments to my last post, Aarene asked what my current electrolyte protocol is. I thought I'd go ahead and post it, so it's not lost in comments - and we can see how it changes over time.

I have some very basic unflavored no-filler powdered electrolytes. I mix electrolytes 2 doses at a time. I start with 3/4 to 1 oz of them and add 3-4 oz applesauce. They say you should taste what you're feeding your horse, so I tried that mix and it's just unbelievably disgusting. If I'm pre-mixing syringes in the house, I heat up a gob of honey in the microwave and stir that in - if I'm doing it in the trailer, I'll just use sugar. Enough sugar takes the edge off the awful salt, and for a non insulin resistant horse, I don't think it's too much carbs at once. There's probably a tablespoon of extra sugar in each 2 oz syringe.

The Internet isn't really very clear on what a dose of electrolytes is, but so far Dixie tolerates this mix quite well. For a 10-25 mile ride, I just give one syringe before the ride and one after. If it's a longer ride, more days in a row, or if I think she really wore herself out, I'll give more - a dose at each stop, one at night, one the next day. They really seem to improve her recovery, but I can't swear to that (because I'm unwilling to ride hard and NOT electrolyte to see if she recovers slower!)

Method of administration - I tell Dixie I need to electrolyte her and show her the tube. (It seems more polite to me than to try to sneak up on her.) Then I shoot a tiny bit of it on the front of her tongue, down where the bit sits. She flings her head around and spits out the elytes, plus all the hay she's got wadded up in her mouth. Then I syringe the rest of the tube as high up in her mouth as I can get. Since there's no wad of hay in there, she's got no choice but to swallow most of the electrolytes.

Dixie doesn't hold a grudge about the electrolytes at all. I usually rinse her mouth out with a syringe of water, again to be polite, but as soon as I quit messing with her she dives back into her haybag.

I really think she drinks slightly better with electrolytes than without. She seems less tired and sore the next day, and I don't worry so much about whether or not she's drinking. She really does drink when she's thirsty, and I don't really worry anymore that she's going to idiotically dehydrate herself waiting to get home. (Ok, honestly, I do worry that all the time, but now I think it's an irrational fear and I ignore it.)

Off to Yerington for the day today. I'm going to do my best to get a picture of The Castle!


  1. So far your protocol is closest to mine :) Plus KCl for his heart.

  2. I was laughing over here reading your descriptions of feeding Dixie electrolytes. It sounds just like me and Rose at worming time. Curious, do most people feed electrolytes through a syringe or do you see people mixing into wet food? Rose has been diving into her soupy beet pulp which I've been mixing her vitamins and electrolytes and I don't think she even notices them anymore. Plus... she's a sucker for anything food like in a bucket.

  3. Caitlin - I think most people end up choosing to syringe for a couple of reasons. The horse might not eat her mash when she's tired and hot, and it's harder to tell exactly how much electrolyte stuff she's gotten in her. But they're all individuals - I've heard of some horses that absolutely refuse to be syringed, and some do fine without elytes.

    I'd keep letting her eat elyted mash but be prepared to syringe her if she needs it. :)


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