If you are lucky enough to have a talented horse and are able to take them to international competitions and shows, it can be extremely rewarding. However, it’s important to fully prepare yourself and your horse to make the experience go smoothly. Travelling overseas with your trusty steed, whether by plane, ferry or long distance drive, takes a lot of preparation, especially when taking your horse abroad for the first time.
It may seem like a daunting process with so much to arrange, but with plenty of organisation in advance, you can make the journey as smooth as possible. A huge part of this, of course, is making sure you have the right horse food to hand so your horse stays happy, healthy and at the top of their game for the duration of your trip.
Keeping Your Horse Happy
During travel, hydration is essential, and making sure you always have access to a consistent supply of clean drinking water for your horse will help reduce the likelihood of any unwanted emergencies. In certain cases, your horse may notice the difference in water in a new area and be less inclined to drink it – this is only natural. A good tip is to carry flavourings that your horse is familiar with, which will disguise any potential new tastes and encourage them to stay hydrated.
Throughout the trip, the most important form of horse feed is forage, such as hay, as this provide the fibre required to promote a healthy digestive system. As the digestive system is integral to health and immunity, it is important to keep the gut as healthy as possible as travelling to a new destination will inevitably means the horse comes into contact with new bugs.
Remember, Food Is Fuel
Dependant on the type of exercise your horse is involved in, there are a number of types of horse feed on the market which allow you to tailor their diet according to the requirements of the specific performance being undertaken. Look for products designed by professional equine nutritionists to ensure your horse is getting all of the nutrients their body requires, leaving them in peak condition to face the day.
During competition periods, a suitable diet is needed to provide your horse with the right type of energy for the work they are doing. Dependant on the type of work your horse will be carrying out, considering the proportion of slow and fast release energy they require will ensure they have enough fuel to complete the competition.
For horses who work at speed, fast releasing energy from horse feeds such as oats can be utilised anaerobically ie in the absence of oxygen. If your horse needs to display stamina for show events or endurance, slow releasing energy forms such as fibre and oil will help keep them sustained throughout the day.
Expect the Unexpected
It is always worth being overcautious when travelling with horses, preparing for any unexpected delays or shortages which may occur so that the impact is minimal. Bringing additional feed and hay will mean you are not caught short if you find yourself stuck somewhere for longer than you initially planned and will not cause too much disruption to your horse.
In addition to staying fully stocked, further preparing for any unpredictable circumstances will allow you to handle any accidents or unplanned situations more quickly and calmly. Ensuring you travel with the necessary equipment, plan any rest stops, know the details of local vets and have the appropriate insurance cover will help make sure that you and your horse are kept safe at all times.