Moving your horse can be stressful both for you and them but simply being prepared can help to make the journey a lot easier. One thing often missed off the list of preparations is nutrition. Feeding them the right thing before, during and after the journey can help to ensure your horse is healthy and at their best at the end of the journey.
The level of preparation required will depend largely on the duration of travel. A short trip may mean little adjustment is needed to your horse’s diet whilst a longer trip will require a little more adaptation. As a guide we delve into some of the important elements of feeding for any journey...
Before the journey
Hydration should be top of the list for every horse. Ensuring your horse has enough to drink will help to reduce risks of colic and stomach ulcers. Some horses may notice a change in the taste of the water when reaching their destination which can put them off. To avoid this happening when you get there you can prepare your horse by adding flavour drops to the water and get them accustomed to this. It is important however to choose your flavourings carefully – things like apple juice can give your horse unnecessary amounts of sugar.
Forage will also help to keep your horse hydrated as it helps to hold water in the gut. This also serves as an important source of minerals such as magnesium which are vital to your horse’s general wellbeing. For longer journeys it can be helpful to increase their forage intake 2 to 3 days prior to the trip to help prevent dehydration and any weight loss.
During the journey
On route it is important to keep your horse’s feeding regime as similar to their usual routine as possible. This will help to keep them at ease during the journey and help them settle back into their routine when you get home.
Horses should have access to hay in their trailer during longer trips. To help keep them hydrated a good tip is to wet the hay shortly before putting it into the hay feeder. Try to hook up the feeder in a low position so that the horse has to hang their head to reach the hay. This motion will help to keep their airways clear and avoid a build-up of mucus.
After the journey
When the journey is complete keep an eye on your horse. Whether you’re arriving at a destination or back home continue with your horse’s regular feed. They should show interest in their feed, forage and water within a few hours. On arrival check their temperature and weight and watch for any signs of lost appetite, illness or injury. Washing them down is a good way to keep them cool. Of course, if there is anything untoward seek veterinary attention.