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Winter Use of ElectroBalance

by Dr Clair Thunes PhD Nutrition
Consulting Nutritionist for EnviroEquine & PET
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It is probably a fairly safe assumption that when most of us horse owners think electrolytes we think summer. After all that is typically when sweating is pretty obvious on our horses and we know we should be feeding an electrolyte to replace lost sweat. Less considered is the need for electrolytes in the winter months.

As the temperature drops a horse’s natural desire to drink often drops too. Horses are not great fans of cold water, preferring tepid water if they have a choice. In fact a study of water consumption in ponies showed that heating water so that it is above freezing increased water consumption by 40 percent!

Add to that the fact that horses that are on pasture in summer months are often brought in for some or all of the day in the winter and fed dry hay in place of higher moisture content pasture. It becomes apparent that a horse’s water intake can drop quite considerably in the winter months. This is one reason why the risk of impaction colic is higher in the winter. Another is that stalled horses do not move as much each day as pastured horses and this negatively impacts the movement of feed through the digestive tract.

Not all horses work less in winter thought. Some horses especially fox hunters that are working hard in the winter may be sweating more than they do in the summer. Horses may also be sweating more than you think but the sweat may not be visible due to the cooler ambient temperatures.

All this adds up to a need for sodium and chloride to help insure that horses keep drinking no matter the weather. By keeping the circulating sodium level up the horse’s motivation to drink is stimulated.

I am SO excited about ElectroBalance for its many benefits. As we are transition into winter and colder temperatures, I never have to worry about my horses’ water consumption. Both of my horses drink a LOT of water and also lick their pans clean each time I add ElectroBalance to their rations. Very pleased with this product! It gives me peace of mind.

This is most easily achieved through the feeding of salt. However not all horses like added salt in their feed plus those horses continuing to work hard over the winter months may need additional electrolytes to replace sweat losses. In either of these scenarios ElectroBalance is a great choice. Providing about 7 grams of sodium and 13 grams of chloride per 2 ounce serving, ElectroBalance helps to stimulate thirst and replace electrolytes lost in sweat.

While there are many electrolytes on the market to choose from, few provide vitamin D which is vital for bone health, vitamin E for muscle recovery, or sodium bentonite clay for gastrointestinal support. Maintaining healthy levels of vitamin D is vital in winter months where access to sunlight may be limited due to reduced turnout time of because horses are wearing blankets. Reduced turnout also lowers access to vitamin E rich pasture grass. It is vital to have adequate amounts of these key nutrients in the diet.

If you are leaving the colder temperatures behind this winter, ElectroBalance paste is a great choice for horses on the road. This time of year many barns are making a southerly migration to warmer climates such as Florida. It is not uncommon for horses to refuse water during transport which is detrimental to both health and performance. Giving the paste while travelling is convenient and easy to administer and will help keep horses hydrated.

With careful management and provision of electrolytes, you can help keep your horse drinking this winter and reduce the risk of impaction colic.

Consulting Nutritionist for EnviroEquine Dr. Clair Thunes is passionate about her profession—one that she decided upon at the age of 14. After earning a Bachelor of Science with Honors from Edinburgh University, and a Master of Science in Animal Science and a PhD in Nutrition from the University of California, Davis, Dr. Thunes went on to found Summit Equine Nutrition LLC an independent consulting company in 2007. An experienced nutritionist and accomplished scientist, Dr. Thunes understands the vital role that nutrition plays in managing horses today. Most importantly, she believes in making nutrition accessible to everyone and removes the guesswork so that owners have the peace of mind that their horse’s diets are optimal for maximum health and peak performance.  Her clients include all horses from competitors at the 2016 Rio Olympics to retired pasture friends, mules and miniature donkeys. She writes a weekly online commentary for theHorse.com and her nutrition articles have been published in noted publications including: The Horse, Equine Wellness, Trail Blazer, Horse & Rider and The Horse Report. Besides consulting she teaches equine nutrition and equine exercise physiology in the Animal Science Department at UC Davis and equine health at Cosumnes River College.  Clair continues to be involved with The United States Pony Clubs, Inc. and she is currently the Regional Supervisor for the Sierra Pacific Region.

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