Horse Care Tips for Cross Country Trips and Extra Long Rides

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Purina Animal Nutrition

Whether you’re taking a weekend camping trip or an extra-long trail ride, proactive horse care can help you be prepared.
Here’s how you can get ready for a safe and fun adventure with your horse.
1. Get a full veterinary check-up.
Before you set off on your adventure, you need to make sure your horse is fully healthy and sound. Talk with your veterinarian about your plans. Discuss any possible issues and how you can ensure a safe trip with your horse.
2. Choose the right feed and nutrition program.
Making sure your horse is meeting its complete nutrient requirements is essential for optimal performance. Consult a Purina representative or authorized Purina feed store to make sure you are using the best horse feed for  all of your horse’s nutritional needs, not just calories, before and during your trip.
Will your horse need endurance and stamina? Extra energy? Does he need to gain some weight? If so, choose a feed with high-quality protein to support muscle strength, conditioning and repair, with adequate calories to maintain body weight and condition.
Your horse may also benefit from a combination of fat and fiber for long-lasting energy and stamina. Be sure you consider horse supplements such as  amino acids, vitamins and minerals by choosing a balanced feed ration appropriate for the activity.  Also, consider your horse’s forage needs, including whether to pack hay, purchase hay along the way or choose a complete feed formulated to replace long-stemmed forage.  For a long trip, it may be advantageous to choose products that you can purchase as you travel. 
3. Make any dietary changes gradually.
If you are changing your horse’s feed, gradually mix the new into the old over the course of 7 to 10 days to minimize possible digestive upset. Keep your horse on the new diet for at least two weeks before you leave home to condition him to the new feed ration.
4. Water. Water. Water.
Plan ahead to make sure you keep your horse adequately hydrated. Some horses may be used to the flavor of their own water at home and will balk at the flavor of unfamiliar water. Hay blocks can mask unfamiliar flavors and encourage horses to get the water they need. They are also a great tool to use when you are traveling and your horse refuses to drink on the road but will still eat. Be sure your horse has a chance to get used to it before you leave.  
5. Be consistent.
While you’re on your adventure — whether it’s a couple of days or much longer — keep your horse’s diet as consistent as possible. This may require bringing all the food you will need or calling ahead to reserve specific feeds at retail stores.