I have two questions in one. First question--I had a lesson yesterday and its been very hot where I live these last few weeks, like highs in the 100s everyday. My lesson was at 7:30 when it was in the mid 80s and my trainer told me to sponge my horse's chest and neck down with rubbing alcohol and water mixture before the lesson to help keep him cool. I've never heard of this before, does it really work? Will it dry out my horse's coat a lot?
Also, since this heat wave, my horse has been going through salt blocks very quickly. I've had to buy him two already. Can I just contribute this to the heat and him sweating a lot of salt?
Oh, one other question too, we have a show coming up in two weeks and I've heard some people talk about putting Gatorade in horse's water to encourage them to drink more while showing in the heat. My horse is usually good about drinking at shows but I want to be extra safe about it, so would this be a good idea? How much do you add?
Since rubbing alcohol evaporates very rapidly and readily at warm temperatures, it does provide a cooling effect above and beyond what water does. It could dry the coat a little if you went overboard, but occasional use is fine. Most liniments contain some form of alcohol, so they also work well to help cool a horse just a little faster. However, cold hosing all over is probably the most effective and environmentally-friendly way of doing it. All that alcohol and other chemicals poured all over the ground is not something we can afford to just ignore.
Horses (IMO) are better off being left to eat as much salt as they care to, without needless meddling on our part. If they are getting any sort of commercial grain or concentrate, there is PLENTY of salt in that. Forcing more except under REALLY extreme circumstances is probably totally unnecessary. Let him eat his salt blocks, monitor how much, and if he is really going overboard week after week maybe I'd be a little concerned. But a brief period of salt-hogging is normal in hot weather.
You can "flavor" water with just about anything that is palatable to the horse if you're worried about him not drinking "strange" water away from home, but personally I have never had a horse that is even remotely picky about that. Gatorade is 90% sugar and in and of itself not particularly beneficial for a horse (or a human) except as a sweetener.