Discussion between Gayle Ecker and Bonnie Snodgrass...relayed
through Teddy Lancaster
Teddy: I vote for Perform 'N Win...ask Gayle Ecker
herself....the person who did the research and developed it....
Gayle: Yes, I worked with Mike Lindinger to develop the
Perform'N Win at the University of Guelph as part of the post-graduate
research requirements. I developed this for a very specific reason.
With over five years of research, studying over 500 horses, and
over 15 events, it was blindingly obvious that many, many of
the electrolytes were not doing the job for endurance and eventing
horses. Most of them were not designed for "healthy, exercising"
horses, but rather horses with a disease process. The electrolyte
losses are very different. We tapped into the latest research
on human sports drinks and as important, the oral rehydration
solutions used on children suffering from dehydration/starvation
as quick absorption is paramount for
effectiveness and recovery. With the research we found that the
horses recovered plasma volume faster and the potassium was entering
the muscle faster with the Perform'N Win when measured with radioisotopes
in the muscle. The gastric emptying was also very fast and we
could detect it in the blood in as little as 10 minutes, with
max rates at 30-45'.
Bonnie: I rode in and completed an easy 25 mile ECTRA
ride this past Saturday. The temps were in the 80's by start
time and hit mid 90's by mid-day. The humidity was extremely
Gayle: This is a potentially lethal combination at this
level. Especially for horses that are not highly fit, or are
not acclimatized (few would be), or if remnants of the winter
coat were still on the horse. Plus most people don't cool the
horse out enough as they underestimate the effect of humidity
on the horse. Even a fit, acclimatized horse is unable to cool
itself under these conditions (takes a long time and temperature
increase in the blood is scary!) as we found out with our Olympic
research on heat stress in horses.
Bonnie: There is nothing on the label as to ingredients/quantities
and I'm really wondering if I should switch
electrolyte brands so I am using one with a known content.
Gayle: Contact the manufacturer and ask them for the ingredients
and the research behind the development of the product. That
will help you assess the quality of the supplement.
Bonnie: electrolyte brands, contents, quantities of
contents per oz and your suggestions for dosages during these
hot, humid rides. I live in the sticky mid-Atlantic area and
must deal with this weather in order to compete.
Gayle: This is difficult as there are so many factors
here. Be careful about using "recipes" on any horse
as there are way too many things that are different. Instead,
if you want to learn and progress in the sport and do the best
for your horse, then take time to understand the theory behind
the use of electrolytes. Here are some notes I made for another
Have a great ride season,
Bonnie: My horse is doing realy well on the Perform'N
Win but I wanted to check with you about the dosage.
Gayle: I'm glad that wrote to me and asked this question.
If your horse is doing well on this level of dosing, then carry
on. I would think your horse is eating well during the ride too.
For many horses, one ounce per hour would not be enough as the
PNW has the energy sources in it as well as the electrolytes.
Most horses are doing well with 2-4 ounces per hour depending
on the speed (higher sweat losses,and less time to absorb from
stomach), the heat(higher sweat losses), the humidity(higher
sweat losses, lower gut function), how much they eat during the
ride (good eaters may need less electrolytes), what they eat
during the ride (easily digested forms of carbohydrates like
beet pulp or extruded products mean they are getting more electrolytes
too, except usually not enough sodium just from the feed), and
the type of electrolyte product (how available the electrolytes
are to the horse, not all are bioavailable), and transport stress
(pre-existing dehydration and electrolyte deficit), weight of
saddle and rider (heavier means more work per mile), type and
build of horse (high strung or bulky muscles), were they pre-loaded
with electrolytes prior to starting the ride (start to drink
sooner and absorb more electrolytes earlier in the ride, so less
need to play catch up), etc. etc., etc. So when people ask me
how much, do you see my dilemma? :) If you think about dosing
an amount for the next hour, this can help you keep the horse
balanced. For example, you preload with 2-4 ounces split into
two doses prior to the start. This will get most horses to the
first vetcheck (depending on all those factors). When the horse
comes in and drinks, then give the electrolytes for the next
hour of the ride. If the temperature is going up, or this part
of the ride is through sand, then you may need to give a bit
more for this hour. The horse comes to the vetcheck and drinks,
and you give some for the next hour. During this vetcheck though,
the horse has extra time to eat an extruded product or beet pulp
and the next part of the trail, you are going to slow down for
a bit. Then the horse may not need as much as what you gave at
the last vetcheck, unless you
know the conditions will be getting tougher as you go and then
stick to the same amount. Do you see where I am going with this?
Many people decide that they will give 2 ounces each vetcheck,
but so many conditions change during the ride and if we want
to do better with our horse, we need to be flexible too. Also,
with the PNW, you should see improvements in hydration after
30-45' of consuming electrolytes and water (unless the horse
was A before). This is when the peak absorption should have been
and if there is no change, then there is a need for more water
and electrolytes. If you can guage the one ounce per liter of
water consumed, there is little risk of causing problems, as
there would be if you were giving more than one ounce
for every liter of water consumed.
Bonnie: I'm careful about dosing before a trailer trip;
the night before a race and during (provided regular drinking
takes place and the horse is running comfortably) etc.
Gayle: This is usually a very effective practice for most
horses as it keeps them drinking. When they are drinking well,
there is less risk in giving electrolytes.
Bonnie: But does the 1 oz. of powder an hour mixed
in a syringe sound like too much accompanied by drinking out
of their 5 gal. pails with 1 or 2 oz. mixed in there as well?
Gayle: No, actually, if they are getting one ounce by
syringe and another 1-2 from the bucket, then they are probably
where they should be until you start going faster, or it is hotter,
or food intake, etc.
Bonnie: Can too much put them out of balance or does
it just exit the system?
Gayle: Yes, there can be two problems. I do a talk called
OverElectrolyted or UnderWatered? Both have their problems and
the balance is the optimal situation. Too much water when electrolyte-depleted,
and this dilutes the blood and can cause a horse to have a problem.
I have some case studies where the horse was not receiving much
electrolytes and had a long drink. When I pulled the blood again,
the plasma concentrations had dropped considerably. The rider
chose not to give electrolytes for fear the horse would not eat,
and within half an hour, they were calling for the vet. Fluids
with electrolytes administered and the horse looked just fine
90' later! Balance! Too much electrolytes with a horse that is
not drinking can cause the water
to be pulled into the gut. The water is pulled by the osmotic
draw of the salts, and pulls fluid from the other tissues, namely
the muscles (heart could be included). Dehydrated cells don't
work well, as the water is
critical for the metabolic reactions. Again, Balance is needed!
Bonnie: thanks so much for all the help. It has been
invaluable for me.
Gayle: Your welcome! Hope this was helpful for understanding
the theory behind the supplementation. I know it is a difficult
area for many people, but relying on a "recipe" for
dosing will never take you as far as supplementing according
to the conditions. I have people calling me that say, "Well
I gave him what he always gets, and he got into trouble! It must
be the electrolytes/clover/new feed/maple leaves, (insert your
favourite target here)" What they don't take into account
is the fact that the horse did not drink well on the trailer
because his buddy was not there, the feed store ran out of their
usual feed, so they are using something else, the beet pulp was
low, so they did not use as much, the new groom did not add as
much water to the beet pulp as usual, the weather was not hot
but is was very