“Q: When at shows we’ll be away from home a few days at a time—sometimes longer. How should I manage my horses’ diet during this time to reduce colic and ulcer risk?”
While traveling for competition can be a lot of fun, it can also be quite stressful—not the least on your horse’s digestive tract. Good management and gradual dietary changes help maintain your horse’s digestive health at home. However, when we travel for shows sudden diet changes are often the reality.
The amounts and types of enzymes released in a horse’s small intestine mirror the types of nutrients in the diet. Similarly, the microbial population in the hindgut is specific for the types of nutrients arriving there. When the diet’s nutritional composition changes, these digestive tract environments need time to adapt.
Even hays of the same type can have widely different nutritional profiles that can cause digestive upset, especially in the hindgut, increasing colic risk. This is why veterinarians and nutritionists generally recommended making hay and concentrate feed changes slowly over a period of seven to 10 days.
Forage and Feed
I encourage my clients who travel with their horses to take their feed from home with them whenever possible. This helps ensure against digestive tract environment changes. With so many other things changing for the horse with travel, taking feed from home is a good way of removing a major stressor. Here are some additional feed-related tips.