Most horses have access to a lick, but it is often difficult to estimate whether these licks are used. Some horses eat the lick at once, so to speak, and other horses do years with 1 lick. But what do you do with warm weather? Do you need to add electrolytes or is that not necessary?
Lick belongs to the base
In addition to good and sufficient roughage, you can see the lick as a basic element that every horse should have access to. The horse can then choose to use it as needed. Licks come in different types, the most famous being the Himalayan licks and the red licks (nowadays they are white). But there is also a liquid lick of Bering Seawater concentrate and there are licks with a taste.
The licks have in common that they mainly contain salt and, depending on the species, a number of minerals. So your horse can get the daily need for these minerals through a lick. But realize that if your horse is sweating, that a lick is not enough.
Horse loses more than salt during sweating
A horse that sweats loses potassium, chloride, calcium and magnesium in addition to sodium (salt). The well-known electrolytes. A horse can lose about 10 liters of sweat per half hour during moderate work, at temperatures of 20 degrees. That 10 liters of sweat consists about 100 grams of salt, which is impossible for a horse to get in through just a lick. And then the horse also loses the other electrolytes. A horse that loses a lot of electrolytes gets an imbalance in the water balance. If not supplemented, the horse will become listless, develop muscle cramps, dry out and may even develop colic. But if a horse is sweating so much at 20 degrees, how much is it at summer temperatures and heavier effort?
Electrolytes often also contain dextrose, which is a shock to horse owners because they want to feed their horse as sugar-free as possible. But dextrose is an energy source and ensures that your horse can recover faster after a training. If you find dextrose scary to give to your (for example insulin resistant) horse, choose to add a liquid lick to the feed instead of electrolytes. The liquid lick of Bering Seawater concentrate is sugar-free and rich in minerals and therefore a good alternative.
Every horse has different needs
Should every horse be fed electrolytes when it is warm? No, every horse is different and has different needs. One horse is already sweating when it is just grazing in the pasture and prefers to look for shade and the other horse just revives when it is above 24 degrees. It is therefore important to know how your horse can handle heat and whether it is sweating a lot. If your horse sweats a lot, it is advisable to add extra electrolytes. If your horse hardly sweats, it may not be immediately necessary to give electrolytes, but keep an eye on whether your horse drinks enough and uses a lick. Also in horses that do not sweat it is sometimes advisable to give some electrolytes, because this also stimulates the drinking stimulus so that your horse gets enough moisture on hot days.
Conclusion: a lick is a must, electrolytes are a good addition
Depending on the horse, weather conditions and labor, electrolytes are a good addition to the horse’s ration. Look at the needs of your horse and how much the horse sweats. If you want to give your horse electrolytes, make sure you choose electrolytes with added Vitamin B2. Vitamin B2 ensures that the electrolytes are absorbed better and faster. Read in this blog whether it is better to give electrolytes to the horse before or after work. We recommend that you always offer a (liquid) lick to your horse so that the horse always has the free choice to provide itself with important minerals.