For some athletes crisscrossing the United States to compete in their sport of choice is not a big deal. They make sure to stay healthy, take their vitamins, rest when they can and drink plenty of water. However, when those athletes rely on a four-legged equine partner to compete in their sport, the relocation and transportation can become an entirely new challenge.
Successful Grand Prix show-jumping rider and trainer, formerly from California and now located in Lemitar, N.M., Jenni McAllister, is no stranger to relocating her horses for shows. Although she lives in the West, she spent a majority of the winter in Florida competing. However, she also competes along the West Coast, in Texas and through the Midwest, requiring planning ahead to get her horses transported without stressing them prior to the competitions.
Flying the Friendly Skies
McAllister said she likes to be prepared for anything that might come up, and she treats each horse like an individual – one of the definite advantages of being the trainer and shipper and knowing the horses so closely. Although Team McAllister typically hauls its horses via tractor-trailer, there are rare cases like in March, where they flew a mare from Florida to California and back to Florida for a show. Even then, McAllister said, her mare took the trip well, and came off the flight ready to ride and compete.
“In Florida, we had to take her three hours to airport; then they touched down once and then she got to L.A., and then another shipper picked her up and took her three hours to the show, so the trip there was 21 hours or so for her. She handled it really well, she was fresh and ready to go,” McAllister said.
McAllister said she kept her mare fresh on her cross-country flight with the help of Vitalize® Equine Recovery Paste, which she learned about three years ago while at a show in Santa Fe from Lynsey Whitacre. Whitacre told her about the Recovery Paste mentioning that one of its biggest benefits is helping horses that ship poorly; you can give them the Recovery Paste, and you will just see the horse “come alive.”
The Recovery Paste includes Amaferm®, a precision-based prebiotic, impacts intake, feed digestibility and nutrient absorption to help combat stress and support the animal’s own immune system. It also contains MOS to trap and expel pathogens, limiting their ability to do harm.
Hauling Over the Road
“I started using the Vitalize Recovery Paste but was mostly using it at that time for my Grand Prix horses, to help keep their energy up. One of the next times I really tried it, I had two horses shipping to the World Cup in Omaha – a 35 to 37- hour drive from California – in box stalls and should have been comfortable. One was not comfortable and looked sour, so I gave her the Recovery Paste, and she came off the truck looking great,” McAllister said.
When she ships her horses via the tractor-trailer, McAllister likes to make sure that horses are loaded next to other horses they are used to and get along with. She said if the circumstances are right, they have the correct amount of drivers and a good plan in place, she prefers to drive straight-through, since a layover requires extra stress for the horses of unloading, reloading and familiarizing themselves with a place for a very short period of time.
“If we have the right drivers and right set up, we schedule the right stops for gas and water and let the horses stand and rest. Bigger stops we’re down for two hours, and they have time to rest. Even on longer trips, I will stop long enough to give them a small amount of feed. We stop, have breakfast and rest, and they have a small breakfast and rest,” she said.
In addition to using the Vitalize Recovery Paste and driving through, the seasoned competitor and Vitalize Ambassador uses a few other products to keep her horses feeling their best on the long hauls. McAllister uses a product to help keep the electrolyte levels balanced in her horses while traveling and a natural pheromone to keep her horses calm.
Finally, she encourages to always keep an emergency kit of supplies in the truck or trailer with you, “just in case.” McAllister keeps the Recovery Paste, Acepromazine and Banamine on hand.
Home Sweet Stable
Once you reach your destination, regardless if it is your home barn or the next show, McAllister recommends getting everything set up in the stalls for your horses before unloading. She said if it isn’t their home barn, to make it as much like home as possible – if they have water buckets in the corner at home, put their water buckets in the corner here. If they have hay nets at home, hang the hay nets here.
“Horses are funny. I think they acclimate faster than we do. They are like ‘yeah, we’re off the truck.’ They want to make sure the whole herd is there. When they are home, they know. They usually drag you from the truck to the stalls. They are really cute that way. They want to drink, roll, and have hay,” McAllister said.
Keeping your equine partner fresh, healthy and ready to compete takes some preparation, but with some advanced planning and the Amaferm advantage found in the Vitalize Recovery Paste, your horse will be ready to compete after its next long haul.