Strategies for voluntary rehydration in horses during endurance exercise.Equine Vet J Suppl. 1996 JulEV
To avoid dehydration and a decrease in performance capacity in horses, fluid and electrolyte losses need to be compensated for during long distance rides as well as on other occasions when sweat losses are high during exercise. Thirteen endurance-trained horses, age 5-14 years, were used to compare 3 strategies of voluntary rehydration during prolonged exercise, offering 1) water, 2) water after administering salt paste (3 x 30 g of NaCl) per os and 3) 0.9% saline. The ride covered 62 km and consisted of 3 rounds, of 20, 22 and 20 km, respectively. During the first 20 km, no fluid was offered to any of the horses. Thereafter, fluid was repeatedly offered from buckets at the 'vet gates' and at fluid stations situated in the middle of the rounds. Fluid intake and bodyweight were measured during the ride and up until 3 b after the ride. The low heart rates and unchanged plasma glucose concentration indicated that the work load was moderate. Total fluid intake was significantly higher in the saline group than in the water group or the salt paste group. The total plasma protein concentration (TPP) fell below resting values in the saline group post exercise, indicating an increase in plasma volume. No changes in TPP were seen in the other groups. Plasma sodium concentration during the ride increased in the salt paste group but not in the saline drinking horses despite their higher NaCl intake. The water group had an increased plasma aldosterone concentration post exercise, indicating that sodium-conserving mechanisms had been activated. Plasma potassium concentration decreased in all treatments from pre- to post ride. It was concluded, that drinking saline solution during and after exercise is a good strategy for rehydration since this group showed the fastest recovery of their bodyweight losses. The persistently elevated plasma sodium concentration in the salt paste group during the ride, is indicative of a disturbance in the fluid distribution between the body fluid compartments, which can be exacerbated by the low water intake. To give salt paste immediately before or during exercise is, therefore, not recommended.