Did you know the #1 way to induce ulcers in horses for clinical trials is putting them on a trailer and driving them around?
The bumpy roads, strange environments and routine changes that come with hauling only mean one thing for horses: STRESS! Whether you are going across the pond—like Team Vitalize®’s 2020 Olympic Silver Medalist Laura Kraut and her mount “Balou” — or just a few hours down the road, travel stress and anxiety plays an enormous role in equine health and performance. Here are four tips before your trip to keep that good gut feeling:
1. Hydrate Early and Often
While traveling, it is important to stop every few hours for water breaks. However, horses are often hesitant to drink stressed, so providing both familiar water and buckets from your farm will help your horse be less finicky.
Dehydration is the #1 threat since it not only affects performance, but also the digestive tract, which can lead to colic. So, it is crucial to ensure traveling horses have access to clean, cool, fresh water 24/7 prior to hitting the road. By fully hydrating your horse before the trip, he will be in better condition both on the trailer and when he arrives at his destination.
There is one problem: horses do not know when they are going to be traveling. To encourage your horse to hydrate efficiently before the trip, you can offer an electrolyte or heat stress product, like Vitalize Blazin’. Blazin’ has been shown to increase water intake and encourage proper sweating during times of stress, such as hauling or competition. While utilizing a product of this nature, be sure to always have clean, cool, fresh water available. Your horse will be drinking more water in no time.
3. Yes Forage, No Grain
Before loading up, see if your horse will graze on any grass that is available at your farm. Grass is more saturated than dry hay and allows for further lubrication in the gut. We suggest that you avoid feeding grain before a long trip, due to the nature of starches, which are often not digested fully under stress and may lead to episodes of colic. It is also important to keep hay in front of your horse at all times to encourage him to keep munching and creating saliva, which buffers stomach acids and helps prevent the development of ulcers during this transition.
4. Prepare a First Aid Kit
Horses get stressed, and things happen. So how can you prepare for those instances? Always have a first aid kit ready in your trailer. Inside the kit, include items like self-sticking bandages, a thermometer, antiseptic wound cleaner, scissors, clean standing wraps, Zinc Oxide cream and Vitalize® Equine Recovery Gel. The stress of traveling causes horses to have digestive upset, colic and weight loss during or after hauling. Digestive upset not only can cause colic, but it also makes the body vulnerable to harmful pathogens that make horses sick.
To help give your horse a boost during travel, administer Vitalize Equine Recovery Gel before and after trailering. The proprietary formula contains vitamins, organic minerals, amino acids, antioxidants, Amaferm® and MOS—all which work together to combat digestive upset, illness, stress, and even colic. In fact, Vitalize Recovery Gel has been known to reverse the signs of digestive distress in horses in as little as 20 minutes.
“I have a horse that doesn’t always want to drink on the road. After using Vitalize Equine Recovery Gel, within 2-3 minutes they go to the water. That stuff works like nothing I’ve ever tried.” – Marcos Costa, World Champion Tie-Down Roper
Although traveling can be stressful for our animals, taking preventive measures will help to ensure their well-being and help them win the game against heat and stress. By following these four tips before your trip, you can rest assured you will be prepared for your next journey.