From Endurance to Dressage
Back when I started endurance riding in 1996 - can it be that long ago? - there weren't a lot of electrolyte formulas from which to choose. There was Lyte Now Electrolyte Paste, Endura-Max, and a few other cheaper brands that real endurance riders scoffed at. The selection was still so small that many riders mixed their own electrolytes from table salt and other ingredients. Now, Riding Warehouse has an entire page dedicated to just electrolytes.
I never mixed my own, but electrolytes were definitely part of my feed and maintenance program. For hundred mile events, I found Lyte Now paste to be the most convenient, especially when we rode a single loop 100-miler, meaning we never came back to camp until the finish. It was much easier to toss two or three syringes in your crew bag than to pack all the supplies necessary for administering the powdered form.
For rides where we came back to camp every few hours, it was cheaper to give powdered electrolyte and administer them at the trailer. Like many riders, I stocked up on jars of carrot and apple flavored baby food. I simply dumped the baby food into a red Solo cup, poured in my electrolytes, and thinned it all with a bit of water. Like every other rider, I administered it orally using a catheter syringe which looks like the syringe of any vaccination except it holds approximately 60cc and has a really fat tip.
In those days, my choice of electrolytes was Endura-Max. Even back then its formula most closely matched the ideal combination of elements necessary to actually replace what our horses were losing due to sweat. Many of the cheaper brands contained more glucose/sugar than anything else. There are five main electrolytes required by horses, namely: Sodium (Na⁺), Chloride (Cl⁻), Potassium (K⁺), Magnesium (Mg²⁺) and Calcium (Ca²⁺) and all play important roles within the horses’ body. - Source
Given that my horses no longer work nearly as hard nor as long as when I was training and competing in endurance races, their electrolyte needs are different. They still need them, but not at the same levels required for horses working for 10 - 24 hours at a time. Summer Games Electrolytes is made by Kentucky Performance Products, the same folks who created Endura-Max Electrolytes.
Even though it is hotter than Hades here in the summertime - last year we had nearly 70 days of triple-digit temperatures with lows in the high 70s to low 80s, I don't give electrolytes every day. My horses rarely work for more than 40 minutes a day, especially when it's that hot.
During the summer (which lasts 6 -8 months here), I give electrolytes before or after a lesson, any time we trailer somewhere (my trailer does not have A/C, and it gets HOT back there), and when we show. Since I don't administer electrolytes every two to three hours like I did when endurance riding, the syringe is no longer necessary (although I still keep a few around just in case). Now-a-days, I can mix a dose in with beet pulp or LMF Senior. Since Speedy also gets Flaxseed oil, adding a scoop of electrolytes goes unnoticed.
A few weeks ago I used the last bit of my electrolytes during an unseasonably hot spell. Since Riding Warehouse was running that sale on fly stuff, I tossed in a new bucket of electrolytes. Since summer is now here to stay, I'll be needing them for afternoon lessons and shows.
For those of you who live in more humid climates, do you use electrolytes, and if so, how often?
5/22/2018 08:34:44 am
Here is the South, we've got both high temps and humidity. My favorite really is straight salt and then the Summer Games if I need more. My endurance horse hates anything in his feed so I have to syringe whatever I use and he's sadly learned that I'm short and he's tall...
5/22/2018 09:10:03 am
Height is definitely a problem with horses. Izzy is really tall and knows how to avoid. I've really had to work hard to show him that stuff in his mouth is okay. LOL For Speedy, I spent YEARS coating any type of syringe with molasses. I also used a syringe full of molasses water every week for a LONG TIME to show him that syringes were his friend. :0)
5/22/2018 12:35:01 pm
My whole barn electrolytes starting at real feel 90* which with the humidity happens quite a bit in the summer. It definitely makes a difference with the pickier drinkers!
5/22/2018 12:52:57 pm
That's an interesting approach. Does it hit 90 often? If I used that as my benchmark, I'd have to electrolyte everyday from now through October. We have a really dry heat here, and the horses do really well. They also have salt licks which we replace as needed.Our horsess don't stand around and sweat, so I only feel like they need support on heavy work days.
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
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