Spring has officially sprung, and that means two things to horse show addicts: horse and travel. Unless you live at the center of a major show circuit, chances are that if you want to compete with your horse this year, you are going to have to travel.
Depending on your equine friend, the combination of horse and travel is either a piece of cake or a complete horror story. Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to get your horse ready for show season and travel. Here, we cover numerous products for the various situations you might encounter during the season. You probably won't need all of these remedies and supplements, but this might serve as a "just in case" reference guide to keep on hand as you go down the road!
Aside from the training aspects of getting your horse ready for the upcoming show season, consider these horse health care aspects before you and your horse hit the road:
1. Protect Your Horse's Immune System
Immunity is always an issue when traveling to show grounds that have a constant stream of horses traveling through. To protect your horse's immune system from respiratory tract infections, allergies, and other possible irritants, consider adding Simplexity Health Essentials or Equilite's Equinacea to your horse's daily regimen. Both of these support your horse's immune system and lungs, both of which can be stressed while traveling.
2. Keep Your Horse Calm
Show nerves, a new environment, constant noise and lights, and travel can all make show horses flighty and nervous. Fire and Water horse personality types are especially prone to nerves, while Wood horses may became bored and destructive when confined to a small stall (learn more about horse personality types on the Horse Harmony website).
To keep your horse calm at a show, consider feeding Valerian Free Relax Blend. For horses who may tip into their "fight or flight" sympathetic nervous system, two to four capsules of the herbal supplement Eleviv can be useful to help them deal cope with stress, and stay in an open and willing frame of mind.
3. Protect Against Wear and Tear
Competition and travel can both be hard on a horse's bones, tendons, and ligaments. To protect against wear and tear, consider adding antioxidants and natural anti-inflammatory supplements to your horse's diet during show season. Good antioxidants include Coenzyme Q10 from Comal or Simplexity Health, concentrated wheat sprouts from Simplexity Health, blue-green algae, and Citrus C/Q from Equilite. These antioxidant sources help protect against cellular damage and work to enhance healing and connective tissue construction. These supplements also provide horses with the nutrients they need to support their respiratory system and immune system.
4. Support Lung Health
Depending on your horse's career, it may be very important to support your horse's lung health during show season. Some horse's have weak lungs, and may develop lung irritation, cough, allergies, or skin conditions, all of which are related to the lungs, while traveling.
These horses can be well-supported with Garlic+C from Equilite. This combination contains garlic, vitamin C, Astragalus, Schisandra, and Zinc. In combination, these help keep insects away, and provide immune and respiratory support. This combination is also helpful when shipping horses long distances, when treating skin fungus, or for upper respiratory conditions.
For horses who have more severe lung conditions, such as Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage (EIPH), or bleeding in the lungs, Bleeder's Blend from Equilite is extremely supportive. This blend of tonifying herbs helps provide healthy and strong lungs in high performance equines. Use this formula to help protect lungs from stress or hemorrhaging so they may better endure the rigors of training. This formula also contains bioflavonoids and vitamin K.
5. Provide Digestive Support
Many horses stop eating when stressed, or eat but don't digest their food well. This poor digestion can lead to ulcers, colic, and other digestive discomforts that can interfere with performance. To support your horse's digestion during travel or at shows, consider adding products that soothe and coat the stomach, such as Stomach Soother, SUCCEED, or slippery elm plus aloe vera.
To replenish the beneficial gut bacteria (which can be destroyed by stress or when your horse drinks chlorinated water) feed Simplexity Health's Acidophlius and Bifidus, or PreProbiotics from Equilite. As a side benefit, these probiotics also produce vitamin B, which can keep your horse calm and relaxed.
6. Keep Older Show Horses Going
If you have a "school master" or older show horse who is perfectly capable of showing, but needs a little support for his joints, now is the time to consider injecting affected joints with Adequan or Legend. Adequan is recommended for the intramuscular treatment of non-infectious degenerative and/or traumatic joint dysfunction and associated lameness of the carpal and hock joints in horses. Legend is indicated in the treatment of joint dysfunction of the knee or fetlock in horses due to non-infectious arthritis. Both will support older horses who are still competing but need extra joint support.
7. Prepare Your First Aid Kit
You never know what might happen when you combine horse and travel, and head into the competition season. For a horse show first aid kit, I like to include at least the following:
- Nux Vomica and Chamomile (for digestive issues)
- Arnica, Rhus Tox and Hypericum (for overworked bodies and nerve issues)
- Apis and Pulsatilla (for allergies, insect bites, and swelling)
Topical Salves and Ointments
- Sore No More (for overworked muscles and joints)
- Draw Solution (for topical wounds or injuries, or wrapping joints)
- HyperCal (for topical wounds)
- Eleviv (for coping healthily with stress)
- Fastrack Paste (for digestive upsets and nervousness)
- SUCCEED (for ulcer flare-ups)
One-Stop Shopping for Holistic Horse Care Products
Hopefully these tips help you prepare for show season so you and your horse are ready to hit the circuit and compete well. Keeping your horse healthy is one of the primary ingredients for a successful show season, and doing just a bit of preparation beforehand can save you a lot of headaches down the road
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