Thehorse.com - Full Article
by: Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc
December 21 2011, Article # 19307
Like the old saying goes (or similar to it), you can lead a horse to an electrolyte replacement fluid but you can't make him drink. As most equestrians know, balancing a horse's electrolyte and fluid intake with the sweat they produce during exercise is an ongoing challenge.
"When horses sweat they lose more electrolytes per liter of sweat than humans do, which means that horses do not develop as strong of a 'thirst stimulus' as human athletes do," explained Hal Schott II, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, professor of equine medicine at Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, during his presentation at the 12th Congress of the World Equine Veterinary Association held Nov. 2-6, 2011, in Hyderabad, India. "They simply do not have the same drive to drink while competing as humans."
Another reason that sweating competitive horses don't drink when their riders and veterinarians think they should is because of the fluid reserves in their gastrointestinal systems.
"Approximately 5% of their body weight is extra fluid--called a fluid reserve--in their intestines that can be used to replace fluid during endurance exercise," relayed Schott.
But what happens when this fluid reserve is drained and excessive electrolytes are lost during competition?...
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