This blog has MOVED!

Please visit for the most updated content. All these posts and more can be found over at the new URL.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Electrolyte Protocol

Endurance Granny asked about my electrolyte protocol at the last ride. As I was e-mailing her, I realized that others might be able to get ideas from what I did. Below is what I used at Wild West. I'm definitely a newbie at the electrolytes thing and I would recommend you check out other people's recommendations and ideas (such as Karen Chaton's) before formulating your own protocol! If anyone wants to comment on what you do differently - feel free - I'm constantly tweaking everything I do to try and find the "best" way.

Which Electrolytes?
The electrolytes I buy are the cheap ones you can get at the tack store - just make sure they do NOT contain sodium bicarbonate. You can also make your own by using 1/2 regular salt to 1/2 lite salt (potassium chloride) to 1 part dolomite. I was told you could get dolomite in the health food section - it's adds calcium - some people also use tums instead. I don't make my own because for 10 bucks it's worth it for me to just buy the pre-made stuff (and I'm having problems finding lite salt). Another brand I've thought about using is "Acculytes". It's $25 for 5 pounds versus $10, but because it takes me so long to go through 5 pounds, in the end I probably wouldn't notice an increased cost. Acculytes is a brand used by a lot of endurance riders, but it's hard for me to get anything locally here, and the shipping on some of this stuff is astronomical, so I tend to stick with what I can find around here if it's working for me.

How Much?
The typical dosage is one ounce. That's usually the size of the scoop that comes with the electrolytes. I'm super conservative when it comes to electrolytes and I usually plan on giving 1/2 dose of electrolytes after every water stop (that the horse drinks at). At a vet checks and 1 hour holds, or after the ride, I may give 1 full dose.

Mixing and Storing
I put 1/2 dose of electrolytes in a 60 cc syringe (make sure you get the "feeding syringes" so the tips are big enough to let the salt go through) and filled the rest up with applesauce. Then I dump the syringe out, mix well, and refill the syringe and cap with a wire nut (you can buy at any hardware store - they are used to join wires together - they come in lots of different sizes so bring your syringes with you). After some trial and error, I found out that the volume of my plastic squeezee condiment bottle (found at walmart) is exactly the volume of 4 - 60cc syringes! Which means I put 2 ounces/scoops of electrolytes, fill it up with applesauce, shake to mix, and then squirt the mixture into 4 - 60 cc syringes. Voila! For the ride I made up 4 syringes and then mixed another bottle of electrolytes to refill the syringes at lunch. That way everything was premixed for me on ride day and there was no mess for refilling syringes (I just had to squirt the mixture in the empty syringes).

I'm planning on experimenting with replacing some of the applesauce with molasses. The applesauce/electrolyte mixture is still very salty, even with only 1/2 dose. The molasses will make it a little sweeter and maybe more palatable. If I do, I have a feeling I may have to use a mixer to mix the ingredients instead of just shaking it in the bottle.

Electrolyte Protocol at Ride
I give one dose in her mash for 2-3 days prior to travelling in her ride. Once at the ride, I'll give one dose in her mash the night before riding (I usually arrive the afternoon before the ride). I'd rather give electrolytes in mashes than syringing, but at some point she stops reliably eating her mashes - usually the morning of the ride - this is when I start syringing. The morning of the ride, IF she has been drinking/and or urinating and the urine color is good, I will give her one syringe (1/2 dose). At every water stop where she drinks during the ride, she gets one syringe (1/2 dose) followed by one syringe of water to rinse her mouth. At the lunch check, if she has been sweating a lot and is continuing to drink well I will give 1-2 syringes (1/2 - 1 dose). After lunch I continue with 1/2 dose (1 syringe) after every watering. After the ride is finished I will give 1-2 syringes (1/2 - 1 dose).

You could experiment with putting a full dose of electrolytes in a syringe and only giving 1/2 a syringe - but I don't like the idea of putting a small amount of extremely concentrated saltiness into my horses mouth. I like the fact that I'm diluting it.

Carrying Elytes on the Trail
Four syringes seemed to be the magic number for me - I never ran out of electrolytes on the trail, but my saddle pack wasn't so bulky that it was unmanageable either. If I do the Tevis or any other 100 miler, I will get a couple more (at least 3 or 4 more) of the plastic sqeezee bottles to premix the electrolytes and put at least one at each vet check. I'll also buy one or two more sets of 4 syringes so I can do a quick switch-a-roo at a check, or replace syringes if I lose a set on the trail.

Good luck! I hope this made sense and it helped.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.