J.L. LECLERC* AND C. ROBERT
* Association Française des Vétérinaires d'Endurance Equestre, France,
Ecole Vétérinaire d'Alfort, Maisons-Alfort, France.
To replace electrolytes lost in sweat during endurance competition, riders frequently supplement horses with hypertonic oral electrolyte pastes. Sweat losses in Na+, Cl- and K+ during a 10 hour endurance competition can be grossly estimated respectively to 300g, 550g and 120g. Oral pastes administered to endurance horses usually bring less than 5g of each ion per syringe. Therefore, their utility during long distance endurance rides is questionable.
Material and methods A prospective and retrospective study was conducted on horses from the French endurance team during international competitions. Since 2002, during the 160 km rides, horses received no oral electrolytes except those contained in food and water. The frequency of metabolic troubles and the
performance of the horses (speed, place at the arrival and medals) were compared with those obtained previously when horses were systematically supplemented.
Before 2002, on each international event, at least one horse and most often several horses presented anorexia or stopped voluntary drinking during the ride. In the absence of electrolyte supplementation, no horse stopped drinking or eating; consequently, the horses were considered easier to manage by the
riders. The frequency of elimination or withdrawals for metabolic troubles was significantly reduced (P <>
Electrolyte supplementation in well-conditioned horses is not essential during long distance endurance rides.