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Take advan- tage of natural grasses when they are available. T is may involve hand graz- ing, hobbling or penning in portable fencing to al- low the horse adequate time to graze.


When using these alternatives, it is important to be aware of the temperature inside the trailer and the length of time the wet forage is sit ing there, as it can go sour over time in higher temperatures. Grain can be off ered in small quantities for horses on extended trips, but avoid large grain meals. Electrolytes are best given well in advance of loading so the horse


has time to drink before the trip. Dosing with electrolytes while the horse is traveling may exacerbate a dehydration problem, especially if the horse is not drinking.


FEEDING AT CAMP Feeding upon arrival at a camp or starting point for a ride can help to


replenish losses from traveling in hydration and gut fi ll as well as energy stores. T e amount off ered should be within the limits of what the horse is accustomed to avoid problems with colic or tying-up from dietary changes. When in doubt, smaller, more frequent meals are always safer than large, less frequent meals. Having the horse fully hydrated when starting out on the trail will give the horse an advantage of being able to tolerate the long day of the trail bet er.


Forage Handling the feeding at camp can vary depending on the type of


a lit le fl avoring like apple juice, vinegar or molasses. When added to strange water, the fl avoring can mask off -put ing tastes or smells.


FEEDING BEFORE THE TRAILER RIDE If possible, have your horse well hydrated when he goes onto the


trailer. T e key to hydration is a hindgut full of fi ber. Because some horses will not eat if they anticipate a trailer ride, try to let the horse have a good hay meal before he even knows he will be loaded. T e presence of low-moisture fi ber in the hindgut stimulates thirst, and horses generally consume a good bit of water within two hours of a hay meal. Some other options for get ing a horse hydrated might be to feed a sloppy mash of chopped forages, beet pulp, and/or wheat bran, but only if such a mash is part of the horse’s usual diet.


FEEDING DURING THE TRAILER RIDE Horses cope with short trailer rides well without any additional feed


or forage in the trailer. Many times a horse won’t eat if a trip is less than four hours if he has been fed shortly before being loaded. Hay can be off ered during a longer trailer ride, but consider rinsing


the hay before put ing it in the trailer to reduce dust. Again, it is best to have off ered the horse hay in this form beforehand so the hay being damp does not put him off . When traveling, feed the same hay that the horse is get ing at home. Good-quality hay should only be fed if this is what the horse is accustomed to get ing. If bet er hay is off ered for the fi rst time in the trailer, the horse may gorge himself and risk the chance of choking on the hay. Water should be off ered at regular intervals during the trailer ride. Alternatives to hay include soaked beet pulp, dampened hay cubes and hay pellets.


44 | June 2012 • WWW.TRAILBLAZERMAGAZINE.US


ride (competition, trail or pack) and the demands on the horse. T e soundest forage feeding for the horse is to take advantage of the natural grasses when they are available. At the camp this may involve hand grazing, hobbling or penning in portable fencing to allow the horse adequate time to graze. Seasoned packers fi nd it adequate to allow one to two hours of grazing in the morning and evening for the horse to get its fi ll of grass. When grazing is questionable or not available, hay is a reliable


source of forage. Off ering hay free choice will assure the horse gets his fi ll. If camping with the trailer, bringing hay may not be an issue, but if packing away from the trailer in an area of sparse natural forage, the horse may need to be fed hay cubes or hay pellets to supply his fi ber needs. Restrictions on hay may dictate what kind is brought into the campsite; for zones that require weed-free hay, bringing certifi ed hay cubes or hay pellets may be the best options for supplying additional forage to grazing. In general, an average-sized horse will need at least 20 pounds of hay (fl akes, cubes, pellets) per day to maintain weight. Most trail horses do well with grass hay, but there are advantages


to feeding some alfalfa while away from home, particularly for com- petition horses. Recent research has shown the benefi ts of feeding alfalfa on preventing or moderating gastric ulceration. It seems that the buff ering capacity of alfalfa is much higher than grass hays and this helps to keep the stomach environment normal. Also, alfalfa is


Keeping hay in front of your horse during an extended camping trip will help him


refuel between long ride days.


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