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During a ride, whether it is days or weeks, the amount of feed off ered to the horse should match the level of work. If the horse has a long day on the trail, it is acceptable to off er a full concentrate meal at comple- tion. If the horse is rested a day or two, the amount of concentrate may be decreased or eliminated.


Cashel Company, p.9 Horse Health USA, p.19 JT International Dist., p.2 T e Natural Feeder, p.26 Smartpak Equine, p.15 Triple Crown Nutrition, p.5


creek on the trail), the horse should have ample opportunity to drink, particularly if it is hot. Drinking on the trail is always recommended, and horses should be taught to drink from natural water supplies. It is important to off er water within two hours of feeding the horse because of the link between thirst response and fi ber fi ll in the hindgut.


for pound, dried beet pulp has nearly the same number of calories as oats but is fed as a replacement for forage. Calorie-per-pound ratio will be higher in a concentrate or grain than forage, although it is not wise to replace all the forage in the diet with a concentrate. Oil is the most energy-dense feed, supplying 2.5 to 3 times the calories for the same volume of a feed. Horses with high energy needs can tolerate up to two cups of oil per day once adapted. For a multiday ride, refueling during the night’s rest can be impor-


tant, especially for competition horses. Proper feeding will restore some of the depleted glycogen. For horses that have worked intensely, like at an endurance competition, they will mostly benefi t from starch and sugar to rebuild glycogen. T erefore, they should get small, frequent grain or concentrate meals throughout the night along with free-choice forage. For the trail horse, the concentrate may not be as important, depending on the individual and workload, but free-choice forage is appropriate. During the ride, whether it is days or weeks, the amount of feed off ered to the horse should match the amount of work. If the horse has a long day on the trail then it is acceptable to off er a full concentrate meal at completion. If the horse is rested a day or two, the amount of concentrate may be decreased or eliminated.


Supplements T e supplement of major concern for trail horses is electrolytes be-


cause of their vital role in bodily fl uid balance. Electrolyte replacement occurs from consumption of forages but it is accomplished slowly, so supplemental salt or electrolyte mix can speed up replacement. Pro- viding electrolytes is usually a major concern for endurance horses. Preloading and then dosing at each pit stop will help replace some of the electrolytes lost in sweat and keep the body’s electrolytes in bal- ance. Having access to a salt block in camp or tossing 0.5-1 oz of salt or electrolytes into the horse’s feed should be adequate for typical trail or pack horses unless they are sweating heavily. If a horse requires other daily supplements, packing enough for one


feeding in individual sealable plastic bags will simplify feeding time and will assure that there is enough to get through the trip.


Water No discussion of feeding the trail horse would be complete without


mentioning the importance of supplying adequate water to the horse. Regardless of its source (from home or at camp, or from a stream or


46 | June 2012 • WWW.TRAILBLAZERMAGAZINE.US


Feeding on the Trail Feeding on the trail may or may not be necessary, depending upon


forage availability and the type of ride. It could be as simple as allowing horses to graze when grass is available or as complicated as bringing along a nosebag with a meal for the horse to eat on the trail. It is accept- able for a horse to nibble on the trail, especially if the ride or competition is a long one. It is tolerable for an endurance horse to snatch a bite and go while traveling along the trail, but this habit can be annoying for the trail rider concerned with keeping pace with a group. Snatch-and-go behavior should not be tolerated from pack horses because it creates havoc within the string, and chronic off enders may be bet er off with a muzzle to keep chaos at bay.


FEEDING AFTER THE EVENT Treatment of the endurance horse may diff er signifi cantly from


that of the pleasure horse aſt er the event. Following a competition, the endurance horse’s metabolism may still be in high gear and the energy requirement quite high. If the horse has had a very strenuous or long work, it is important to feed lots of small, frequent grain meals for a couple of days aſt er the competition to help the horse recover weight lost during the race and rebuild spent glycogen stores. In contrast, a pleasure trail horse that is idle aſt er the ride may experience cramping if the meals remain as energy-rich as they were during the ride. T e grain or concentrate should be tapered off to the size of a normal meal given before the ride or completely cut if the horse was not on grain before going to the ride. Free-choice forage is still advisable, regard- less of whether the horse was used for an endurance competition, trail ride, or pack trip. With a lit le planning and preparation, along with a healthy dose


of common sense, your trail horse can weather the stresses of travel, camping and trail riding with lit le aff ect on his health and well-being.


Kathleen Crandell, PhD, received her MS in Equine Nutrition and Reproduction from Virginia Tech and is a nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research, one of the world’s leading equine research and consulting fi rms. An avid trail rider, Kathleen has competed in competitive trail riding and endurance since 1989.


FMI


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