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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

September 7, 2010


I've really been thinking about Phebe's unwillingness to eat on our breaks at training rides. She never was a "good" eater, but always had interest in her hay which the past few rides she has not. Of course I surf RIDECAMP, and have been reading the topic concerning electrolytes with interest. I think that I'm giving her an upset stomach with the recommended dosage of Endura-Max. I'm also thinking that maybe in this case, less is more. Dyna-Spark was interesting....much lower in everything than Endura-Max but it seems a number of riders out there like the product. Doug researched it a little and should be quite easy to make a homemade version based on a veterinarian approved recipe in the blackstrap molasses base. Just to see if she'd find the blackstrap palatable I sucked some up in a dosing syringe and took it out to her stall. At first she smelled it and started flipping her head, NO NO NO! YOU CAN'T MAKE ME!!! Me being me ...she gets to taste it anyway. Phebes makes an incredibly funny face with her lips, then she wants to grab the syringe with her teeth. She in fact thought it to be pretty yummy when all is said and done. Doug crunched the numbers on this and that and we will be able to mix up our own very, very close to the serving size / dosage. We just need to pick up some lite salt, we have everything else on hand. The dose for this is actually about a fifth of the dose she takes now. We'll see if her appetite remains intact, and if less is in fact more to her overall good. After this past weekend I wonder if I should just hold my nose and have some of her's. I'm almost back to normal (three days later). ~E.G.


  1. I am not sure if you are or not, but do you electrolyte her on a daily basis? My vets don't encourage a daily regiment of electrolytes for the risk of what I think you are describing. The horses get an upset belly from it. Ofcourse, we don't have the humidity where I am at, so unless I am competing or riding in the heat, electrolytes aren't part of the daily feeding routine.

  2. No, I only give her e-lytes on long ride days or hot humid days when she's visably sweating heavily. But I think the dosage recommended on my Endura-Max may just be too much for her. Going to experiment with a lighter dose using blackstrap molasses as the carrier and see how that goes.

  3. I also have to wonder why you are electrolyting her so frequently? I don't mean to sound harsh but I don't think you are doing enough miles to necessitate electrolytes nor are you risking electrolyte imbalances when she is standing in the pasture on hot days. We see far more problems in over-electrolyting than under, and one of those such problems is decreasing the horse's appetite due to belly aches from the excess elytes. I prefer my horses to get the appropriate amounts of vitamins, minerals and elytes through actual forage, even at endurance rides where they are doing 50-250 miles in 1-5 days. If you are dead-set on using elytes, you should plan a post-work blood draw to see what she is lacking, if anything. I think you are way over-thinking this aspect of your training. ~ Amanda

  4. The electrolyting has been done on a vet's recommendation. She is a very heavily sweating horse, wasn't drinking, and we were riding in extremely hot & humid conditions. My protocol has been a half dose pre-ride, a half dose mid ride, and a half dose the evening after (for hot & humid rides). I did notice that she began drinking after I began using electrolytes. But as my training rides have become longer, and with more frequent riding in hot and humid conditions she started showing less interest in her feed on rirde day. When comparing Endura-max to some other electrolytes I noticed it has as much as 5 times the stuff in it as some of the others. So I don't think I was over-thinking so much as over dosing :( I'm going to back it way down and see if she does better. Please do keep in mind that for short pleasure rides she doesn't get them, and most normal days standing around she doesn't, but when the humidity is so high that she's sweated her body wet and I can see pink skin instead of white fur, she's getting some salt!

  5. I agree that salt should be fed free-choice. I don't agree with electrolyting a horse that doesn't drink, but to each his own. Glad to hear that she has started drinking, perhaps that has been a newly learned behavior that has become the "norm" for her. Have you tried offering free choice salt or just using lite salt in her grain? Hope you figure out what works for you guys. And perhaps you should consult your vet to determine appropriate formulas/amounts/brands to use? Good luck, Amanda

  6. The endurance people I've worked for over the years never used electrolytes at all (some maybe put a scoopful of them in the feed a few days before a ride), so I never got used to using them. And I always think back to the 'old days' in endurance - like those early Tevis rides - where the riders used Western saddles and wore jeans and fed their horses hay, and they seemed to do just fine (though I guess we wouldn't have heard if they hadn't done well).
    but then, all horses are different and I'm not a vet!
    - The Equestrian Vagabond

  7. Just to clarify, I don't give Phebes elytes if she "isn't drinking." I gave them pre-ride to encourage drinking and that worked well for her.

    Using Karen C's handy dandy electrolyte chart:

    ENDURAMAX (single dose)
    5528 mg / oz Sodium
    3657 mg / oz Potassium

    DynaSpark (single dose)

    1800 mg / oz Sodium
    565 mg / oz Potassium

    We are talking a huge difference per dosage as far as burning the mouth or digestive tissues. I eat more sodium than that when I hash down an entire jar of kosher dills.

  8. Just curious? Are any of you from the midwest? Or are you riding in the western states?

  9. I did not mean to offend you, Jacke, I am sorry. You did validate my point, however, when you said you get more sodium out of a jar of pickles. That is exactly what I am saying- electrolytes ingested through actual food is far easier on the body and much more beneficial, IMO, than concentrated doses of commercial or even homemade blends. Even feeding a dose of electrolytes in a bucket of beet pulp is going to be safer for the horse than squirting it down their throat. Hope you find a solution that works. I will never forget being told during my first year of endurance to KISS. Keep It Simple, Sunshine ;-)

  10. I am in Montana.. little to no humidity here but from what I have read, with electrolyting , I think less is more, especially in the case when a horse is exhibiting lack of appetite.Maybe you have already been down this road but I would try experimenting with going off electrolytes altogether and just add a little loose salt to her stall so she has it free choice, give her her multi vitamin, plenty of forage and see how she does for a week to two weeks with your conditioning without the added electrolytes. Then you can maybe find a happy medium in there.