Being passionate about health and wellness means that I not only look after myself with nourishing food and a positive mindset I also workout regularly. During these workouts you will find me sweating up a storm! I know that if I need my towel at the end of a session I have pushed myself to achieve as many health benefits as possible! We have all heard the philosophy healthy mind, body and soul right? Well, as you would know if you have been following me this is my motto in life. After a workout in the heat and after loosing a lot of sweat I know that my electrolytes are lacking. I make sure that I supplement the vitamin and minerals lost in my sweat by putting an electrolyte into my water bottle either during or after. This ensures that I am replenishing my body with the nutrients it has lost to prevent fatigue and muscle soreness. I like to stick to a sugar free electrolyte because some have a high level of hidden sugars. So, enough about me, lets talk HORSE!
How many of us finish off a ride and our horse is sweating? If your like my horse then I know that after a good session he is definitely sweating a lot. Just like us, horses also lose important vitamin and minerals in their sweat. It is important that horse owners give back the lost nutrients to replenish their bodies, just like we would for ourselves.
Common minerals that become deficient are calcium, magnesium and potassium. Once the horse has become imbalanced in electrolytes they can start to become fatigued and weak. Not only fatigue but a large range of side effects can occur.
Signs of Electrolyte Imbalance
- Lack of Thirst
- Elevated Temperature
- Heart Rate
- Respiratory Rate
- Dryness of mucous membrane
- Delayed capillary refill
- Decreased pulse rate
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Muscle cramps
One serious condition that can also occur is what we call the 'THUMPS' or otherwise known as synchronous diaphragmatic flutter. This is a product of an electrolyte imbalance. If related to humans it is almost like us having the hiccups. When a horse gets the thumps they have lost a large quantity of minerals in a short period of time. They may show signs of excessive sweating, diarrhea or kidney/parathyroid dysfunction. When the imbalance occurs there is a nerve that controls the diaphragm, chest and abdominal cavity called the 'phrenic nerve' that is put into overdrive. This nerve runs straight over the top of the heart, so when it becomes hyper excited it places a strain on the horses heart. increasing the heartbeat. Visually you will notice that the horse's flanks will be moving in and out fast, the horse may want to lie down however it is important to keep them walking.
It is common for competition horses, racehorses, endurance and eventing horses to come across the thumps. These activities push their bodies and expel a lot of sweat and energy. As horse owners we need to make sure that before entering for an event our horses have enough fitness. Would you enter a marathon if you have never run before? No, you would train and build up fitness first before competing. Keep this mindset when training and competing with your horse! Some horses have problems with electrolytes in the way that their body always runs in a deficit. These horses will always have to be monitored even if they have enough fitness, watch for signs of their body entering a serious case of electrolyte imbalance to make sure they get the best care.
So how do we treat a horse with the thumps or an electrolyte imbalance? There are many oral pastes out in the market that can be given either during or after an event. Immediate cold hosing and walking is important to help the horse cool their body down. Water and hay can also be provided even though the horse may not want to drink even if it is thirsty. A vet can also be called to administer an intravenous drip to put the vitamins and minerals straight back into the blood stream. Horses may not show any signs on the day of the event however on the days following a competition they need to be monitored to ensure they are still in good health. If you come across signs of the thumps and not sure how to fix the situation give your vet a call, that is what they are there for!
'Healthy Mind Body and HORSE'--looking a horses in a holistic way!