Feeding Traveling Horses: Prepare in Advance

Whether you’re taking your horse on a back-country vacation, moving out of state, or traveling to the World Equestrian Games, don’t assume your horse’s feed will be available at your destination.

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feeding traveling horses
Don't wait until the day before you move your horse to a new location to consider his diet. Start planning well in advance to give yourself time to formulate a well-thought-out plan. | Photo: iStock

Whether you’re moving your horse across the county due to a work relocation or flying him across the world to compete at the World Equestrian Games, feeding traveling horses can be a challenging endeavor.

When a Horse’s Regular Diet isn’t Available

One of the most common issues is what to feed if your horse’s normal diet isn’t available at your destination. I’ve recently been asked this question twice: Once from a client moving out of state to a situation very different than the one she is leaving and again from a top international rider taking her U.S.-based horse to compete at last weekend’s Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, in England. My approach to both situations was similar.

In both cases the horses had been consuming diets that were meeting their needs for at least a year, if not longer. Obviously, both owners felt concern about making a change. In the case of the horse moving out of state, the barn style and management was going to be very different, and her regional concentrate feed would no longer be available. The horse had had a history of gastric distress, which the current diet had resolved, so understandably the owner had concerns about making significant changes. The good news was that she had reached out for advice two months prior to her expected move date so she had time to formulate a well-thought-out plan

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Written by:

Clair Thunes, PhD, is an equine nutritionist who owns Clarity Equine Nutrition, based in Gilbert, Arizona. She works as a consultant with owners/trainers and veterinarians across the United States and globally to take the guesswork out of feeding horses and provides services to select companies. As a nutritionist she works with all equids, from WEG competitors to Miniature donkeys and everything in between. Born in England, she earned her undergraduate degree at Edinburgh University, in Scotland, and her master’s and doctorate in nutrition at the University of California, Davis. Growing up, she competed in a wide array of disciplines and was an active member of the U.K. Pony Club. Today, she serves as the district commissioner for the Salt River Pony Club.

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