Protect your horse's digestive health while traveling

Here's how to keep your horse's gut functioning properly when you're on the road.

It’s fun to expand your horizons by taking your horse to shows and trail rides, but travel can increase his
risk for digestive upset. Trailer rides, changes in routine and the stress of just being in a new environment can lead to the develop of ulcers, episodes of colic or other gastrointestinal woes. 

Three horses looking out of the side of a slant-load trailer
A few simple managrment changes can help protect your horse’s digestive health on the road.

Here’s how you can help keep your horse’s digestive system functioning well when you’re on the road.

• Take along your horse’s usual feed. Any change in diet can upset your horse’s gut flora. This goes for hay as well as grain, so pack enough of your horse’s usual ration to last for the duration of your trip.

• Keep his stomach full. Empty equine stomachs are prone to ulcers. Keep a full hay net in front of your horse during trailer rides and during “down-time” between activities. 

• Encourage him to drink. Dehydration can lead to impaction colic. Offer water multiple times throughout the day if you can’t keep it in front of him continually. If your horse is picky about water, fill jugs from home and bring them along. 

• Let him graze, if possible. If your horse isn’t sensitive to grass, allowing him to graze at an event can help keep his digestive system working as well as providing a chance for him to relax. You don’t need turnout space to do this —hand grazing at the end of a lead line can provide the same benefits.

• Consider preventive ulcer medication. Research has shown that trailering to a different location and staying overnight can induce gastric ulcers in horses, even in those who are seasoned travelers. Talk to your veterinarian about the benefits of treating your horse with a preventive dose of omeprazole the night before your trip.

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