The show season is in full swing, and horses are subject to the stress of going down the road on a regular basis. This travel schedule imposes additional requirements for managing the feeding program. Horses like consistency. Changes can cause emotional and physical stress. The more we can keep the routines the same, the easier it is for the horses to cope with the challenges of travel and competition.
The following are some suggestions that may be useful to help maintain the body condition, appearance, and performance required to maintain a horse's competitive status.
Maintain water intake
First and foremost, it's critical to maintain water intake while traveling and while stabled away from home. Horses should have fresh, clean water available at all times when stabled at shows and should be offered water as needed between classes. We also recommend watering at least every 2 hours while hauling.
Keep in mind that the water may taste different at different locations. If horses are reluctant to drink water that smells different due to chlorination or an unfamiliar water source, it may be useful to flavor the water at home with something like wintergreen or vanilla so that you can do the same when traveling. This helps mask the difference between water obtained from different sources. Just be certain that any additives you put in the water do NOT contain caffeine or anything that might trigger a positive drug test! And if you're 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.
Beware of dehydration! If horses get dehydrated during a show, the risk of impaction colic may increase, particularly during hot weather. Horses may also perform below expectations in their events, particularly in multiple-day or multiple-event competitions. Judges and announcers may detect a significant difference in horses between days one and three of an event if they aren't receiving enough water.
Maintain your feeding schedule
Ideally, you want to keep your feeding schedule on the road as close as possible to the routine followed at home. You may have to adjust slightly to accommodate classes.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- If for some reason you have to miss a feeding, don't "double up" at the next one!
- Use the same forage as you feed at home. A sudden change in forage can be a potential cause of colic.
- Salt should be offered free choice while traveling.
- Additional electrolytes may be used prior to, during, and following a competition, but should not be added to the water as this may impact water intake.
Monitor body condition
Pre-season preparation involves achieving desired body condition, coat condition, hoof condition, and the required training. Managing these during competition is essential if you want your animal to maintain its competitive edge! And since body condition is a sign of overall health, you'll want to monitor this 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 for long.
You'll want to select a horse feed that will help reduce the risk of metabolic issues, and you'll want to help maintain your horse's intake to keep up its body condition and bloom. Added fat, controlled starch and sugar products with balanced amino acids, and added key vitamins work well for virtually all classes of show horses.
Not sure which horse feed is right for your animal? We can help with that! Just call or stop by one of our stores today, and our experts will be happy to take care of you.