In a former article, I spent some time talking about planning for your vacation with your horse and things you should think about to have a successful trip. Now I am going to visit about things you should do to plan for your horse’s trip.
If this is your first horse, and your first trip with them, you need to know that you are going somewhere that can support your horse’s needs and is safe for them to be there. For instance, if you are part of a timeshare that you regularly pay into but it does not have any horse-friendly additions, then you may want to look at getting rid of it with one of the top timeshare exit companies available to you which can free you up to plan a great vacation for you and your horse.
Here are some helpful tips to help even seasoned travelers have a great vacation.
Do your best to get your horses in condition to do whatever you plan to do when you get to wherever you’re going. Put some time on your horse so he has the stamina to do his job. Don’t back up to the pasture in Minnesota on June 1st and head to the Hills for a week of hard riding and expect your pony to be ready for the job.
Get your horse shod a few days before you get to your destination. If you use boots to make sure they fit and are in good condition. If you use boots have spares with you, most places you go may not have your size or the brand you have, so don’t plan on anyone being able to take care or your need. If you use shoes have your farrier give you some extra shoes so you or someone else can replace a lost shoe. Another option is to contact your camp host to make sure you have access to a farrier at their location.
Do your best to know your horse and how he handles feed. If you have to change hay, grain, or you decide to use hay cubes on your trip get your horse used to those feeds before you leave home. Get your horse on the feed program you plan on using at least a week before you leave home so he gets used to the ration and has no transition when you get to your destination. Make sure that your horse has plenty of salt and mineral available all of the time. When you travel, do the same. If you do your horse will be more ready to drink the water he has available at your destination. You will also have less chance of colic and other tie up issues.
Get to your destination before dark so you have time to let your horses settle into their new environment in daylight. This will be good for you and your mount.
When you travel to locations at higher elevations than your home remember that your horse is able to make that transition in a few hours. It may take you a few days to feel like running up a hill and not passing out, but your horse can do it with ease the day after you get to your camp. The key is to have ole Dobbin in shape before you leave home.
Pack a vet pack with your gear so you have what you MAY NEED. The first aid kit can have a lot of stuff or it can be very basic. Just build your kit to fit your needs. Vet wrap, some 4×4 gauze pads, hydrogen peroxide, a good ointment/salve, knife or scissors, are a good start to a kit that will serve you well in the event you need it.
Don’t forget about your needs in this planning. A first aid kit for your- self is a good idea, too. If you have special needs make sure you have whatever those needs are. Don’t expect someone else to have an Epee Pen for you if you’re the one that’s allergic to a bee sting.
Talk to your vet about where you’re going and see if they have any special guidance for you and the care of your horse. Make sure there aren’t any issues along the way. If there are take the precautions necessary to be safe. Always have your vet get you set up with some Banamine and Bute for your trip. You more than likely won’t ever need to use either one but if you do it’s best to have it available the instant you need it. There are some good colic remedies available, too, so if you have a horse that you have had issues with in the past get a product that you and your vet are comfortable with.
Visit with your camp host about access to a local vet and have their number at your disposal. Remember, emergencies only happen after hours and on the weekend. Have a plan.
When you reach your destination and are settled in getting out and enjoy your horse. When you’re on the trail take every opportunity to let your horse drink and let him drink as much as he wants every time. Your horse knows how much water he needs to stay hydrated a lot better than you do. If you let him drink he will have far fewer problems than horses that don’t drink.
Be aware of your location and the practices implemented in that location. A good example is one used here in Arizona. Unlike the Midwest and in South Dakota, where I spent most of my life, Arizona has a lot of sand. When horses eat in an environment where there’s a lot of sand they end up with sand in their gut and that’s not good. A simple management program here in AZ is to use a regiment of Psyllium and oil once a month for about a week in the horse’s ration of hay and some supplement. The Psyllium helps flush the sand from the gut and everything’s good.
In past articles, I told you that the best thing you can do for and with your horse is to ride, ride, and ride some more. When it comes to making sure your horse and you are ready for a trip time in the saddle will be the BEST thing you can do to assure your travel is fun and successful. In most cases, horses that have problems on a trip are the ones that are not in condition and have not been prepared for being away from home. Horses that have miles under the saddle are the ones that go on their vacation and have as much fun as their partner.
“It’ll Be Fine” when you get prepared for your vacation and you get out and ride before you travel. YOU’LL HAVE FUN AND YOUR HORSE WILL TOO…
Doug and Jody Lindgren own and operate Hay Creek Ranch, Nemo, SD and HCR-AZ, Oracle, AZ. Both camps focus on guests vacationing with their own horses. Doug rides year-round, training horses to be great trail horses.
Visit www.haycreekranch.net for more information about both locations.
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This article was printed in Performance Horse Digest, Volume 9, Issue 2