Respiratory and Immune Support for the Traveling Horse
We all know a lot more about disease spread lately… and the principles of keeping your horse healthy are similar. We know we can reduce the risk of illness in our horses by reducing contact between unknown horses, maintaining a clean and controlled environment, establishing routines that support both a healthy body and mind, providing a steady diet and water intake… and then we go to a competition and throw all that out the window.
To compete means to travel to new places where a variety of horses gather, all with variations in their disease exposure and undetermined vaccine protocols, to have new housing with novel allergens and often atypical bedding, with disrupted turnout access and altered feeding schedule with new water sources. Not to mention the stress from the hustle and bustle of the show barn, crowded gates, unique arenas, variable schooling schedule, long days, and interrupted sleep schedules. Your horse is not only exposed to other new horses at the show but also to the horses who recently used the same stall, the visitors who walk by and may touch your horse or barn supplies, the ring stewards and facility workers who maintain the show grounds, and in some cases even the judges who are inspecting horses or staff who hand out ribbons.
Despite all these risk factors, many can be averted or reduced with careful planning for the competition. Ensure your horse is vaccinated, limit unnecessary exposure to other horses and people, keep your tack and barn supplies separate from others, bring your own bedding from home, acclimate your horse to the feeding and turnout schedule they can expect at the competition, bring your own water if possible (especially for short-term travel), and be sure to allow your horse time to de-stress, have some peace, and take a nap. You can also support your horse’s immune system function and respiratory health with well-formulated supplements to give an added layer of protection against the challenges of changing environments. Not only can all this help your horse feel more at home on the road, but you can reduce your worry about your horse and both of you can focus on the competition.