top of page

Hot weather alert… Is your horse missing these key minerals?

Updated: Jul 9, 2023

It’s the peak of summer and while us humans might reach for an electrolyte daily to make sure we are hydrated and to ward off any headaches, what about our horses? Do they need electrolytes? The simple answer is yes, horses need electrolytes just as we do but the key detail is when to administer them and which ones to give as well as ensure your horse has the correct nutritional support for maximum electrolyte retention.

Key minerals for a horse during hot weather

Salt is king!

Salt (also known as sodium chloride or NaCl) is an electrolyte and it is the most important electrolyte for your horse's health. Unlike the other electrolytes (potassium, magnesium and calcium), salt must be supplemented. What differentiates salt from the other electrolytes you might ask? Salt plays a vital role in healthy nerve and muscle function and adult horses need at least one ounce of salt per day (2 level tablespoons), no matter what the season. However, in warmer weather, the amount of salt needed daily can double to two ounces per day (4 level tablespoons).

Horses need salt daily.

Did you know that as many as 60% of horses aren’t receiving the correct amount of salt in their diets? This is partly due to hay, concentrated grains and pasture containing a low sodium chloride content. To compensate for this, many owners provide a salt lick for their horses. Unfortunately, salt licks have proven to not be the most effective way to supplement salt as some horses don’t give their salt lick the time of day whereas others may lick excessively or even bite off chunks making it difficult to monitor if they are consuming the correct daily amount.

Key minerals for a horse during hot weather
Daily salt requirements: A full-sized horse (1100 lbs or 500 kg) requires a maintenance level of one ounce (two level tablespoons or 30 ml) of salt each day.

Which salt is best?

There are many different types of salt to choose from, some better than others. Let’s take a look at the most common salts:

  • White table salt: White table salt tends to be heavily processed to remove minerals, leaving behind pure sodium chloride. It is also the most economical way to supplement salt. Iodized table salt is also an option, although not recommended as it contains iodine which is easy to over supplement and can lead to damage of the thyroid gland.

  • White salt blocks: These are compressed white salt but, as discussed above, make it hard to monitor how much salt your horse is ingesting daily.

  • Mineral salt blocks: These are more of a marketing ploy than an actual nutritional source. They offer a few minerals which are quite bitter tasting and may deter your horse from licking the block altogether. In order to cover the bitter tasting minerals, some brands may have molasses as an added ingredient which can encourage horses to bite off chunks, resulting in an increase in their sugar intake. This type of salt block is not recommended for horses with metabolic issues.

  • Mined salt rocks: This is usually the most nutritious salt you can offer your horse. Mined salt often provides a vast variety of trace minerals (which plain table salt can not offer due to processing). However, just like with the salt blocks, it is hard to monitor daily consumption when providing a mined salt rock only.

  • Loose (ground) mined salt: This is perhaps the most beneficial salt option to supplement your horse. This loose mined salt still contains all of the trace minerals that the mined salt rocks do, except its broken down so that you can easily measure how much to give your horse daily.

Bottom line…we recommend giving your horse a mined salt rock or a white salt block in their pen along with daily supplementation of 1 ounce (for a regular-sized horse) of some form of non-iodized loose salt.

When should I give my horse an electrolyte supplement?

Other than salt, the other electrolytes essential to a healthy horse are potassium, magnesium and calcium. Electrolyte supplements are designed to mimic and replace the electrolytes your horse loses in sweat. So, unless your horse has had a rigorous workout (or any other experience that has caused them to work up a sweat) an electrolyte supplement is usually not needed. Unlike salt, horses are able to pull their daily electrolyte requirements through forage, pasture and concentrated feeds. However, if your horse has worked up a sweat, has been sweating for a prolonged period of time or has diarrhea then it might be time to administer an electrolyte supplement. Here are some other vet-recommended situations where an electrolyte supplement may be beneficial:

  • Before and during trailering.

  • Before and after a strenuous/stressful event or competition.

  • During hot, humid, or extreme weather conditions.

  • At the first sign of colic.

Which electrolyte supplement is best?

Now that you know when your horse may need electrolytes, how do you go about choosing which product is best? There are 3 key factors to consider when selecting an electrolyte supplement:

  1. Make sure it is high in salt content, potassium should be the next main ingredient.

  2. Avoid any supplements that are high in sugar. Glucose may be an ingredient on the list, which is acceptable only in small quantities as it can help water and electrolytes absorb.

  3. Any electrolyte supplement that is isotonic to sweat is ideal. This means that the nutrient content in the supplement is similar to the nutrient content lost when a horse sweats.

*Added note: If you’re feeding an electrolyte in water, make sure to add an extra pure and fresh water supply. Don’t allow the electrolyte water mix to be the only water source.

Electrolyte retention is just as important!

Proper nutrition is key to helping a horse retain electrolytes (i.e. not lose as many nutrients in their sweat) which provides a competitive edge by battling against dehydration, increasing performance and improving recovery time. The Inner Glow Booster is a highly recommended whole-food based performance supplement that was not only designed for electrolyte retention but also to provide a potent dose of omegas that help to lubricate joints, ease inflammation, soothe the stomach, promote strong hooves and a healthy skin and coat. The main ingredient within the Inner Glow Booster is chia, which is a renowned superfood. Chia absorbs more than 30 times its weight in water which helps to regulate body fluid levels and prevent dehydration. Chia is also a natural source of electrolytes which are more bioavailable to the horse than manufactured and processed electrolytes. Being rich in amino acids and antioxidants, the Inner Glow Booster can defend against free radicals and jumpstart recovery making it the ideal daily supplement for any horse, especially those who are used in performance.

There you have it! The ins and outs of when to feed salt and when to feed electrolytes. No matter what season it is, daily nutrition should focus on salt and a supplement that aids in electrolyte retention while providing other health benefits. If a horse works up a good sweat due to any circumstance, that would be the time to consider supplementing an electrolyte which is why during the summer months it is always smart to keep some sort of electrolyte supplement on hand to administer when needed.

To learn more about the Inner Glow Booster and read testimonials from real customers, visit the Twenty Four Carrots website where first time buyers can enjoy 15% off their first order and a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee.

To find out which of our products suit your horse best click the button below!

Key minerals horse hot weather

545 views0 comments
bottom of page