Feeding horses when travelling away DL Equine

Feeding horses when travelling and away from home

Feeling the excitement of competition this year?

Or are you stressing because your horse is stressing? Have they suddenly lost that glutinous bottomless pit appetite they have at home and seem to have swapped it for a Jenny Craig meal plan?

When you travel away for competition does your horse have poop that would put a cow to shame by producing something that shoots thru the eye of a needle??

So what is happening here is the same as when you get nervous or worried, remember when you had to sit an exam last time? Your stomach did flip flops and you couldn’t eat right? That is essentially what is happening in your horse’s stomach.

Except this is a little worse as the horse’s stomach needs to have a constant supply of forage going thru because of many factors but the most important being there is actual acid in a horse stomach. If there is no forage in the gut to soak it up, then the acid will eat into the lining of the gut creating ulcers and that just plain hurts!

Did I mention there was a major highway of communication going from the gut to the brain and back again? So if the horses stomach hurts it tells the brain I don’t want to eat or signals can come thru that change the horse behaviour (and not usually for the better!).

Much of this is comes with an easy fix! Feed forage and then feed more forage!

The very first thing you need to do is consider “what is my horse going to eat when you are away?” If you are having to pen your horse at a show, even for only one day, they are not having that continual supply of pasture forage. So you need to give something else to keep their tummies and brains happy, like hay or haylage. And I’d recommend a good probiotic too.

But remember those bugs that hang out in the horses’ gut just doing their job of creating energy for the horse’s body? Well think of them as wee fragile little beings that have a bit of a meltdown when things change, and they aren’t ready for it. So introduce into the diet a small amount of that hay or forage that you are taking to the show at least a week before hand, then its all happy days for your horses gut bugs 😉

Feed your horse some hay before you get them on the truck or float, to fill those stomachs with forage. Imagine your stomach when you go on a windy, bouncy ride, things slosh around in there, and again imagine if it’s just acid sitting in there then gut ulcers can start.

Give them access to hay while travelling too.

Then when you are at the show make sure you are feeding 2% of the horse’s bodyweight in forage per day.

If we sum all that up its:

  • Forage
  • More forage
  • Feed it before you need it
  • Gut bugs rule (but only when happy)

Best of luck with competition and happy feeding!

Dale Logan

BSc, Post Grad Dip, Equine Nutrition, Cert Animal Welfare Legislation, Cert Equine Herbal Medicine

DL Equine