Your Horse's Nutrition and Long Distance Horse Trailering - Part I
Your Horse’s Nutrition and Long Distance Horse Trailering– Part I
As summer fast approaches, many will be hitting the roads and traveling long distances with their horses. Lengthy trailer rides can take a physical and mental toll on your horse. A good way to prepare him for this stress is to boost the nutritional value of his meals prior to your departure.
To learn more, we spoke with Dr. Juliet Getty, Ph.D., about measures to take that will improve a horse’s immune function, and protect the nervous system against stress before embarking on a long trip of 12 hours or more. Dr. Getty is an equine nutritionist who offers one-on-one consulting services for horse owners as well as a free online forum and a supplement store. For more information, visit Dr. Getty’s Web site at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com.
Dr. Getty advises that before any long trailer trips, it’s important to first assess your horse’s condition. Even healthy, fit horses that are accustomed to trailering long distances need help preparing for the rigors of travel. If your horse isn’t healthy, is aging, or is inexperienced with shipping, you need to address these issues well before it’s time to depart.
A balanced diet is essential to good health so before you begin supplementing for your long trip, you might want to review what your horse eats daily and make adjustments if necessary. Dr. Getty provided guidelines for what a balanced diet should include.
• As much good-quality grass hay and/or pasture that your horse wants.
• For horses exercised regularly, feed a concentrated feed source to provide extra calories. Depending on the horse, you may or may not need to feed according to the manufacturer’s directions.
• A comprehensive vitamin/mineral supplement to fill in the gaps potentially not covered by the commercial feed.
• Additional Vitamin E if your horse’s diet is not already providing 1500 to 2000 IU per day. Be careful of Vitamin E supplements containing Selenium. Too much Selenium can be toxic. Review how much Selenium your horse gets from his overall diet; it shouldn’t be more than 3 mg per day. An equine nutritionist can help you with these calculations. If your horse already receives enough Selenium, be sure to supplement with pure Vitamin E, not a Vitamin E/Se combination.
• A commercial, stabilized flaxseed meal product if it’s not included in the commercial feed. Flaxseeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which boost immunity, reduce inflammation of joints and muscles, and help keep the coat and hooves healthy.
• Clean water free from algae, insects, and bird droppings. It should be available at all times.
• Additional salt if your horse doesn’t consume a 5 lb. salt block within two months. Add 2 tablespoons of plain, white, iodized table salt (the kind you buy at the grocery store) to his feed daily; in hot weather, increase to 4 tablespoons per day – but not all in one meal. This can replace any commercial electrolyte products you might be using.
Next week, we continue our interview with Dr. Getty. We’ll discuss when you should begin supplementing your horse’s daily ration in preparation for your trip, and what nutrients you should add to boost his immune function and protect his nervous system against stress, so watch for us in your inbox!