Why Sweat It?
By Gayle Ecker and Leslie Huber D.V.M.,
Equine Research Centre, Guelph,
Why sweat it ?
- sweating helps the horse lose heat when body
- sweat is a watery fluid containing salts, also
- it is formed in the sweat gland in the skin.
- sweat contains water and salts.
- horse sweat is about 10x more concentrated
than human sweat!
- the main electrolytes in sweat are sodium
(Na+), potassium (K+), chloride (Cl-), magnesium (Mg++) and calcium (Ca++).
- losses of electrolytes and water affect health
- electrolytes are electrically charged
particles in solution, some have a positive (+) charge and some have a negative
- sodium (Na+) is most abundant in the fluid
outside the cells, whereas potassium (K+) is most abundant inside the cells
(like the muscle).
- Na+ helps balance the bodyÕs water and
maintains blood pressure.
- K+ helps balance the fluid inside the cells
and is important for optimal muscle, heart and kidney function.
- Cl- helps maintain the balance of acids and
- Mg++ is important for many functions in the
body and contributes to the skeletal growth.
- Ca++ builds bones and teeth and contributes to
healthy function of the heart, muscle, nerves and blood clotting.
How do I replace
the water and electrolytes?
- for optimal health, performance and recovery,
replace lost water and electrolytes.
- use a good quality electrolyte designed to
replace sweat losses in the exercising horse, such as Perform'N Win.
- avoid high sugar supplements, check
- encourage your horse to drink frequently.
- do not give concentrated electrolytes to a
- when using Perform'N Win, use about 3 oz. per
hour of exercising, once horse is used to the taste, add to the water in the
recovery period. Amounts needed to replace sweat losses will vary depending on
How does sweat
help heat loss?
- sweat must evaporate in order to take heat
away from the horse efficiently.
- if the weather is hot and humid, the sweat
will not evaporate quickly
- the human sweat rate is only 2-3 L/h.
- the horse's sweat rate can be 10-15 L/h!
- talk about sweating buckets!
Its not the
heat, Its the humidity?
- if a horse is exercising in the heat,
endurance time may decrease by 25%.
- if it is hot and humid, endurance time may
- always be aware of the humidity when
exercising your horse.
- learn how to monitor the temperature of your
- slowly acclimate your horse to exercise in the
Are you a weather
- if conditions include warm to hot
temperatures, help cool down the horse to "save sweat".
- repeated applications of water with a sponge
will help to take heat away;
- continue sponging until the water coming off
the skin is the same temperature as it went on.
- if weather conditions are hot and humid, use
caution when exercising to avoid overheating the horse.
- if weather conditions are very hot and humid,
consider stopping all exercise if more than one hour duration.