Blog 4 - Tips for Travelling and Feeding Away from Home



Horse of the Year is finally upon us and most competitors will be busy packing and planning their trip. In this final edition of nutrition management tips from NRM and McMillan nutritionist Luisa Wood, we focus on dietary support and management to provide your horse with the best care during travel and away from home. Some minor tips and tricks can make a significant difference to maintaining optimum health and give your horse every chance to perform at their best on the day.  


The most important points for horse owners to focus on prior to travel, during travel and at the event, are forage intake, hydration, electrolytes and maintaining a healthy gastrointestinal tract.  



Planning your horse’s nutrition for the duration of the trip to and from Hawkes Bay and while you’re  away from home is essential. Keeping their diet as consistent as possible is the key to maintaining digestive health and keeping them eating throughout the competition. Making sure adequate feed is brought from home including hay, fibre products, compound feeds and supplements can take some time, as well as room in the truck or float!


Regardless of whether your journey is short or long, hydration is highly important when preparing horses for travel, especially in the hotter months. Increasing forage intake several days before the journey will help to ensure the horse remains hydrated, as fibre acts as a reservoir, storing water and electrolytes in the hindgut. For every kilogram of forage eaten, a horse will drink approximately 4 litres of water. 


Super fibres such as beet pulp and soy hulls are ideal for including in the diet of a performance horse prior to travel and when at an event. They are perfect for providing both highly digestible fibre and hydration, as they require soaking in twice their amount of water. McMillan Grain Free is a blend of beet pulp and soy hulls with a fully balanced premix, ideal for this situation. 


Travel can be stressful, causing inappetence in some horses. Consider adding a B vitamin supplement to the horse’s diet before travel to help boost appetite. An antioxidant will also help support immunity and electrolytes will help improve hydration status. 


Forage also helps the gastrointestinal tract to maintain normal digestive function. During travel, ensure regular breaks at least every four hours to offer water and hay or chaff for fibre. Gastric ulcers can begin within four hours, especially in stressful conditions and regular fibre is essential to buffer gastric acid and prevent this. Lucerne is the preferred choice for ulcer prevention due to its higher buffering qualities. However grassy or meadow hay is also ideal. 


On arrival ensure fresh water and forage is provided and give the horse time to settle into their new surroundings. Electrolytes such as McMillan Electrolyte should be provided in the evening feed, however once they have had time to have a drink, extra electrolytes can be given on arrival to replace nutrients lost during travel, especially if the horse has sweated throughout the journey. 


During the event the horse should be provided the same feeds and supplements as at home, however additional forage and hard feed through increased meal sizes or providing an extra meal in the day may be required to keep energy levels high. Be aware of the risk of digestive conditions (discussed in the previous article) that can occur through stress or dietary changes and monitor for symptoms such as loose manure or mild colic.   


The team at NRM and McMillan, including nutritionist Luisa, will be available for nutritional advice during the event at their site between the two main arenas. For assistance with all aspects of feeding, including diet design, hydration, providing adequate energy and avoiding digestive conditions, head along for a chat. 


For more information or questions on feeding for travel and away from home get in touch with your local NRM and McMillan Equine representative. 


Article supplied by Luisa Wood 


Equine Nutritionist