Home recipes for electrolytes

We’ve had a brutally hot summer here in the Northeast with lots of humidity. If your horse is in work (and it’s a big if some days), this is the kind of weather where electrolytes might be beneficial.

Keep in mind that electrolytes are mainly used to replace minerals lost from sweat and to encourage your horse to drink. I know that many people feed electrolytes as part of their horse’s daily diet but I’ve never found that to be necessary. It’s something that I might give Freedom after a hard ride on a hot day, although I always add some salt to his diet and have a salt block available to him.

According to an article by Dr. Martin Adams, Equine Nutritionist for Southern States, horse sweat contains the electrolytes chloride, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and a few other trace minerals.

I’ve seen a couple of recipes out there for home-made electrolytes. They call for regular salt, light salt and usually some variation of magnesium/calcium (Tums or Epsom salts are common). The ratios all are different so I will leave it to you which you want to try out. They are all simple and inexpensive alternatives to commercial products and also allow you to control the amount of sugar in them (some commercial electrolyte solutions contain quite a bit of sugar).

Dr. Sarah Ralston of Rutgers University suggests this recipe:

  • 1lb. Salt (NaCl)
  • 12 oz. Morton’s Light Salt
  • 1 roll of Tums (flavored is fine!)
  • ¼ cup molasses

Give 1 tablespoon (1-2 oz) of the mixture orally, per hour of hard work. You may add enough water to one tablespoon of mixture necessary to pull up into a dosing syringe.

This one is from Dr. Kerry Ridgeway. http://www.horse-canada.com/articles/HSequiath.htm

  • 2 parts table salt
  • 2 parts Lite salt
  • 1 part Dolomite (natural calcium/magnesium) Tums antacids are also used in place of the Dolomite for the calcium and protection of the stomach.

Harold C. Schott from Michigan State University presented on The Challenges of Endurance Exercise: Hydration and Electrolyte Depletion at the 2010 Kentucky Equine Research Conference. His recommendations are the simplest: Mix regular salt and light salt 1:1 and feed an ounce of the mixture a.m. and p.m. in grain.

Do you feed electrolytes? If so, do you buy a commercial product or mix your own? Post your recipe in the comments.



One thought on “Home recipes for electrolytes

  1. It is important that a horse’s salt maintenance requirements are met first. Electrolytes should be given to replace sweat losses, not as a substitute for salt. If the horse is salt deprived & you give them electrolytes, you can actually make the imbalance worse. I’m constantly amazed at how many horse owners do not realize the importance of salt.
    If a 1100 pound horse’s baseline sodium requirement of 10 grams has not already
    been met, electrolyte supplementation won’t come even close to meeting the horse’s true
    total requirements. According to the 2007 National Research Council sweat contains 2.8g/L of sodium, 1.4g/L of potasssium, 5.3g/L of chloride (g/L=grams per liter of sweat). Look at those numbers when looking at electrolytes. With moderate exercise at 50-70 degree temperatures sweat loss is approximately 4-5 liters per hour. I wrote an article on salt deprivation last year:
    Sorry for jumping on my soapbox. Salt deprivation sets me off.
    That being said these are the two products I would recommend for a horse being exercised over the 2 hour mark:

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