Ever wondered why your horse foams up when it sweats?

Horses are unique in the animal kingdom because when they sweat, they produce a creamy foam called latherin. Typically seen between the horse’s hind legs, or on the neck, latherin is often found where tack causes friction with the horse’s coat. It actually has a wonderful job, since it increases evaporation and cools a horses body when he overheats.

Latherin has dissolved minerals (electrolytes) in it. That’s what causes the lather effect, so when a horse is covered in frothy sweat, it is a clear sign he is also losing electrolytes from his body. If he loses too many of these important minerals, he may suffer from heat stress.

Excessive sweating can lead to dehydration

While the act of sweating itself is positive, as it is your horse’s way of regulating temperature and cooling himself down if your horse sweats too much however, he could get dehydrated.

That’s why it is important to monitor your horse and take notice when and how he sweats.
Horses sweat out large amounts of sodium and potassium – much more than a human being does. If your horse is sweating excessively, you may need to replenish lost electrolytes (minerals) in other ways.

Electrolytes can be served to horses in different ways – as an oral paste or mixed in with feed or water.

Horses at Risk for Heat StressSome horses are more prone to health problems associated with heat:

  • Unfit horses.
  • Overweight horses.
  • Old or young horses
  • Horses that cannot digest starch and sugar
  • Horses living in direct sunlight with temperatures over 30 degrees.
  • Horses not consuming enough water and not getting enough salt
  • Horses recently moved from cooler climates that have not had time to adjust to hot weather.

Hydration is key

We know that racehorses can sweat nearly 10-15 liters per hour under conditions of high heat and humidity

That’s why fresh, clean water and salt are crucial to a horse in summer. The average domestic horse will consume 30 liters of water each day. On a really hot day, they will drink double that.

If you have a fussy drinker, try offering your horse water from different sources. Some horses prefer buckets or troughs over automatic waterers – the important thing is that the type of bucket is safe for your horse and clean

Horses can lose up to 12% of their body weight in sweat and electrolytes. The primary electrolytes in sweat are sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, and magnesium. A deficiency in electrolytes can take weeks or months to correct and can seriously affect a performance horse’s recovery time.

Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance

Electrolytes control the supply of water into and out of horse’s cells. They bring good minerals in, and push waste out. Electrolytes are necessary for digestion and bone strength. They get nerves to fire and muscles to contract. Basically, they are essential to a horse’s wellbeing.

Symptoms of electrolyte deficiency may include impaired performance, slow recovery, muscle spasms, tying-up and a high risk of thumps.

For most horse’s free access to a mineral salt lick is enough to replenish lost nutrients, but if your horse is being ridden in a hot climate, the addition of a balanced electrolyte daily is recommended.

If your horse is working hard this summer, it may be a good idea to supplement additional minerals to his diet by feeding a ration balancer feed that contains the required vitamins, minerals, and protein.

Consider Kelpies Balancer – a vitamin, mineral, and trace element formulation that gives your horse more concentrated nutrients in smaller quantities. https://kelpiesgalicia.com/product/balancers/balancer/

Feed For Thought

There are horses that are more likely to suffer electrolyte imbalances the day after they have eaten certain concentrated feeds. This makes them more likely to tie-up or suffer muscle cramps/spasms.

These horses have a genetic inability to metabolize sugars during exercise and should be fed in a way that allows them to adapt to alternative fuel sources such as high fiber, high fat, low soluble carbohydrate diets.

Check out Kelpies No Starch https://kelpiesgalicia.com/product/moderate-low-starch/low-starch-and-high-fibre/

Cristina

Author Cristina

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