Here are a few things to remember as you and your horse prepare to travel to competitions.
Prevent Stress to Keep Your Horse Healthy
It’s important to realize that transport to shows, even if your horse seems like a calm traveller, puts stress on their bodies and immune system. Stress can play a large role in the development of gastric ulcers, so prevention is ideal. An in-depth article with the newest ulcer information will be coming soon, but here are some general management guidelines you can follow if you’re concerned about gastric ulcers in your horse:
Increase turnout and decrease stall time to minimize stress
Increase the amount of time feed is available using a hay net or slow feeder system
Feed smaller meals more frequently throughout the day and overnight (ideally 4-6 meals daily)
Feed hay before feeding grain – this will create more saliva, which is a buffer of stomach acid
Feed more forage and less high concentrate grain
Include up to 25% alfalfa in the diet – this can act as a buffer in the stomach
Do not exercise on an empty stomach
Avoid use of non-specific non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as phenylbutazone (bute) or flunixin meglumine (banamine) unless directed by your veterinarian
The respiratory system is another area vulnerable to stress while traveling. Horses have to stay stationary with their heads elevated for abnormally long periods of time and air quality may not be ideal while trailering. Signs of respiratory disease that you can watch out for include the following:
Increased respiratory rate
Increased respiratory effort
Pack an Equine Emergency Kit While Traveling
One way to be prepared for unexpected situations should they arise is to have an emergency kit with you while traveling. Some of the things we recommend you keep in such a kit:
Digital thermometer (sold for people) or equine thermometer
Supplies for a pressure bandage – a combine, brown gauze, vetrap, elastikon, white kling, and a non-stick telfa pad – to apply while waiting for a veterinarian
Triple antibiotic ointment
Dose syringe to administer oral medications
Stall card with all pertinent horse information (see our main Resources page)
We also recommend consulting with your regular veterinarian on any prescription needs to have on hand in an emergency – for example, we often recommend having a tube of Banamine paste on hand in case of a colic episode to administer if your veterinarian gives you instructions to do so. Other supplies can be added based on the individual horse and horse owner.
Stay Up to Date on Rules, Regulations and Paperwork
Some competition organizations like USEF and USHJA require that your horse be microchipped.
Those of you traveling out of state or out of country are aware of the paperwork that you should be carrying with your horse, but here is a reminder to keep an up-to-date Certificate of Veterinary Inspection or CVI (commonly known as a ‘health certificate’) and a negative Equine Infectious Anemia test (commonly known as a Coggins) on hand when you cross borders. CVIs must be issued by an accredited veterinarian within 30 days before crossing state lines, while an up-to-date EIA test done by a USDA-approved laboratory is required within six (6) or twelve (12) months dependent on the individual state.
If you have any questions regarding your horse’s health prior to showing, please contact the clinic.