Nutrition Strategies for Your Horse When Traveling

Nutrition Strategies for Your Horse When Traveling

Nutrition strategies to remember when you are traveling to a competition or anywhere that is a different environment for your horse

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Content provided by Nutrena

As many AQHA members are participating in the upcoming Farnam AQHA World in November, now is a good time to discuss some nutrition strategies to remember when you are traveling to a competition or anywhere that is a different environment for your horse.

We all know that traveling and showing can be stressful to us humans but think about the stress it puts on your equine partner. Horses are animals that thrive with routine. When we take them to a show or anywhere out of their environment, these changes can cause emotional and physical stress. Some horses are outwardly anxious, others internalize their nerves and we may not realize there is anything wrong. Thus, it’s in our best interest to try and keep things as normal or routine as possible when traveling – whether it’s for one day or one month, the following are some important guidelines to follow to help maintain a consistent routine for your horse.

First and foremost, it is critical to maintain water intake while traveling and while stabled away from home. When trailering, horses should be offered water on a regular basis. It’s recommended offering water every 2 hours while hauling but use your judgement and stop more or less frequently if needed.

Remember that the water may taste different at various locations so your horse may be reluctant to drink water that smells different due to chlorination or where the water is sourced. To prevent this, if possible, bring some water from home or begin flavoring your water – some people use vanilla or flavored gelatin – and you can do the same when traveling.  If you are going to flavor the water, do it well in advance of travel so that the water at home smells and tastes like the water while traveling.

Horses should have fresh, clean water available at all times when stabled at shows and should be offered water as needed between classes. If horses get dehydrated during a show, the risk of impaction colic may increase, particularly during hot weather. It may also affect your horse’s performance, particularly in multiple day or multiple event competitions.

Second, maintain your feeding schedule as close as possible to routine followed at home. You may have to adjust slightly to accommodate classes.

If for some reason you miss a feeding, do not double up at the next one. Just feed hay before the next grain meal. Be sure to use the same forage as you feed at home as a sudden change in forage can be a potential cause of colic.

It’s also important to remember to offer free choice salt when traveling. However, sometimes salt is not enough, so additional electrolytes may be used prior to, during, and following a competition. But don’t add electrolytes to your horse’s water as this may impact water intake. Add electrolytes to the feed or use a paste variety.

Be sure to monitor body condition carefully and adjust feeding rates to avoid excess weight loss while traveling. A horse can tuck up badly if it goes off feed and water.

When it comes to nutrition, select a horse feed that will help reduce the risk of metabolic issues and will help maintain intake to sustain body condition and bloom. Added fat, controlled starch & sugar products with balanced amino acids and added key vitamins work well for virtually all classes of show horses.

It’s also a good idea to feed a digestive supplement that helps with stressful situations that can cause gastric upset in horses. An example of this is Nutrena’s® Empower® Digestive Balance that can be fed at meal time or in advance of riding. With marine sourced calcite, it helps sooth sensitive stomachs.

Finally, remember that pre-season preparation is important to achieve desired body and coat condition but managing the horse during competition is essential to maintain the competitive edge!