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Minerals and Endurance Horses

What is Equine Endurance Racing?

What special considerations are needed for making sure an endurance horse is fit and has the stamina to participate in an endurance race?

According to Equine Canada “Endurance is a race against the clock that tests a horse-and-rider team over varying and sometimes challenging terrain. The race may be 80, 120, or 160km in distance, and can be completed in one or over several days.”[1] The horse’s welfare is of upmost importance so frequent veterinary check-ins are done throughout a race to evaluate if a horse is fit to continue. In addition to the veterinary check-ins depending on the length of the race there may be rest and feed periods for the horses as well. Given what is necessary to complete an endurance horses diet is very important to its welfare and success.

What an endurance horse needs to be fit and successful for training and races are a source of energy, electrolytes (MINERALS) and water. These needs vary depending on if a horse is in training or if they are actively participating in an endurance race. Energy is provided when the horse metabolizes starch, fat, fiber, and protein in its digestive tract. Water and electrolytes are also very important for endurance horses. During an endurance race, horses may need to cool themselves and this is accomplished by sweating. This helps to disperse heat if the sweat can evaporate but, in the process, fluids and electrolytes are lost which need to be replaced for a horse to be able to safely continue. Simply put sweat loss = fluid and electrolyte loss. While sweating, sodium, potassium, and chloride are all lost, which can cause fatigue, muscle weakness, and dehydration. Other electrolytes such as magnesium and calcium are also lost in smaller amounts. The minerals that are lost are responsible for a remarkable variety of crucial functions in the body. According to Kentucky equine research electrolytes are important for endurance horses because they “play an important role in maintaining osmotic pressure, fluid balance, and nerve and muscle activity.”[2]  The amount a horse will sweat is dependant on factors such as the heat, humidity, intensity of exercise and duration of exercise. Kentucky Equine Research says, “In general, horses exercising at low intensity (12-18 km/hr) will lose between 5 and 10 liters (1.3 and 2.6 gallons) of sweat per hour. During higher intensity exercise (30-35 km/hr), sweat loss levels reach as high as 15 liters per hour.”[3] Replacing lost electrolytes in endurance horses is crucial.

Electrolyte requirements for training:

During training daily electrolyte requirements can be calculated based on the distance the horse has logged during training over the period of a week. Environmental conditions are also considered. For example, a horse will sweat much less and therefore lose less electrolytes while training in cooler weather then it would during hot, humid conditions. According to Kentucky equine research the rule of thumb is 2 ounces of good quality electrolyte supplementation for each hour of exercise in moderate climates.[4] This rate of supplementation would double in a hot climate. This can either be given with feed or given as a paste. Please note that electrolytes can only be given as a paste if the horse access to and will drink water as these pastes are hypertonic (a greater concentration of electrolytes) compared to blood and they will draw fluid into the gut if they are not diluted by drinking water. Which can result in colic, dehydration or even death.

Electrolyte requirements on race days:

On race days competitors give electrolytes in a variety of ways. Pre-ride the horse should be starting out with adequate levels of both water and electrolytes. Electrolyte supplementation during a race is slightly different then supplementation during training. During a race extra calcium and magnesium should be supplemented in addition to sodium, potassium, and chloride. These should be administered at vet check-ins when water is offered. It is common for electrolyte pastes to be used during races. Again, it is crucial that electrolyte pastes be given with water for the same reason as above.  Post race electrolytes are usually given top dressed on feed for a 24-hour period to eliminate any electrolyte deficits.




[1] https://equestrian.ca/sport/endurance#

[2] https://ker.com/equinews/electrolyte-supplementation-endurance-horses/

[3] https://ker.com/equinews/electrolyte-supplementation-endurance-horses/

[4] https://ker.com/equinews/electrolyte-supplementation-endurance-horses/

Lisa Square
Vykon Equine founded by Lisa Pitel-Killah, Hair Mineral Analysis Expert & Educator, Board-Certified Holistic Health Practitioner, Functional Diagnostic Practitioner, and multi-time Kettlebell Sport World Champion.  Her animal study includes Holistic Carnivore and Equine Nutritionist and advanced Animal HTMA (Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis). Lisa is the host of the Human Optimization podcast and the co-host of the annual HTMA Virtual Summit, bringing mineral education to the masses.  The science of HTMA can identify exactly what your body, or your animal’s body, needs to thrive.  Customize, simplify, and revitalize life with Vykon.


Sue’s background includes being a two sport athlete in University and a member of Ontario Field Hockey team. She completed her CIS eligibility in College for photojournalism following 25 years as a photojournalist. Supporting two daughters through competitive hockey, Sue discovered her passion for Holistic Nutrition and returned to study at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition, graduating with her Certified Nutrition Practitioner designation. She has a strong passion for supporting people through chronic stress. Sue enjoys time on the water, has her Level 1 SUP certification and recently started racing.


Kailan spent her youth on her family farm; from a young age she developed an interest in how the mental and physical wellness of animals can impact their bonding and performance. After improving the health of her equine companions, she has had some pivotal moments resulting in multiple national championship titles. Her inherent passion for health coupled with her degree in engineering has led her on this journey to help humans and animals alike realize the benefits of optimized health.  

Kailan’s goal is to enlighten others to the resources available, aid in resolving root cause of barriers and breakdown misconceptions surrounding poor behavioural patterns.


Yielding over a decade of professionalism in design and entrepreneurship, Grace is in charge of the many multimedia projects at Vykon. With an Advanced Diploma in Graphic Design, her artistic eye and a flair for creativity brings a unique touch to every project she undertakes. When she’s not working, Grace enjoys trying new recipes, watching movies and spending an afternoon in an art gallery.