Unless specified otherwise by the client or veterinarian, all equines are provided hay and water throughout the transport and at layovers, regardless of travel time, as well as provided grain rations and/or supplements, if necessary, for extended transports.
For all transports longer than 4-hours, water is provided throughout the transport and not just at rest stops. Equines can be finicky about smells and tastes...especially with water and we take that into consideration when transporting. We have a 30-gallon tank on-board our trailer but since equines are inherently suspicious of anything unfamiliar, we carry 5 gallon containers that we prefer to fill at the pick-up facility so that the smell and taste of the water the equine is being provided is familiar which may encourage drinking during the transport and reduce the risk of dehydration. A bucket, sometimes two, for each equine is secured inside the trailer and filled approximately 1/2 -3/4 full and refilled when empty or dirty during transport. While at layover facilities, each equine will be provided two buckets of water which will be refilled when empty or dirty. While we may provide water from other locations, such as the layover facility, we will also provide a bucket of the water we obtained from the pick-up location so the equine in our care will be more apt to drink. Should there be any concern as to the amount of water being consumed during the transport or the hydration status of the equine, we carry a Purina product called “Hydration Hay” . According to the label, this hay product does contain Alfalfa, therefore any hypersensitivity or allergy to alfalfa should be documented on the Transport Contract. We put a small amount of the Hydration Hay in a bucket and add a copious amount of water until its like a soup-like consistency. In our experience, it doesn't take long for the equine to start drinking their "hay soup" and when the water level decreases we add more water. We have used this product and method with several long-distance transports to combat dehydration and encourage water intake with great success. If the equine is hypersensitive or allergic to Alfalfa or if the Hydration Hay doesn't seem to be encouraging the equine to drink, we also carry a product called "Horse Quencher". Horse Quencher is a mix of all natural grains and flavorings that, when added to water, make horses eagerly drink. It’s made of all-natural ingredients found in most horse feeds, so you can be sure Horse Quencher is safe for competition. Hydration is key to a healthy equine during transport and we try our best to make sure every equine in our care remains hydrated.
When equines consume hay it keeps the digestive system flowing, combat boredom, and can decrease stress. Unless the owner/agent requests otherwise, hay will be provided for the duration of the transport, both in the trailer and at layover facilities (if applicable). Hay will either be placed on the floor of the trailer or in a slow feed (small hole) hay net/bag which are safer and healthier methods of providing forage during transport. Slow-feed small hole hay nets are used because they drastically reduce the amount of waste, slow the rate of consumption so the equine doesn't "engorge" itself during transport, limit the boredom as it takes more effort and interaction with the net/bag to consume the hay, and reduce the risk of leg entanglement since the holes are so small should the net/bag slip or an accident occur. We prefer to obtain hay from the location where the equine is being picked up at to eliminate any changes in the diet which could predispose the equine to colic or other medical complications, however if that is not feasible we can provide a Timothy Mix hay if needed upon approval of the client which will be documented in the Transport Contract and at the client’s expense. If hay is supplied by the client/agent, it is recommended to provide extra hay in the event of an unforeseen delay in transport, however we will maintain at least one bale of high quality Timothy mix hay on the trailer for emergency use should unforeseen circumstances occur.
If the equine will need to be fed a grain ration during the transport period, we request that the client/agent put each ration, including supplements, into separate sealed and labeled bags or containers for individual feedings. It is also recommended to include two additional feedings in the event there is an unforeseen delay in transport. Instructions for feeding must be documented within the Transport Contract. If feed is not provided by the owner/agent, the equine will not receive anything other than hay for the duration of the transport which may increase the amount of hay we need to obtain from the pick-up location. We prefer not to feed any grain while the equine is on the trailer but we will be glad to accommodate our client's request to feed when we have stopped at a layover location and the equine has settled in for the day/night. Grain rations maybe withheld if the equine has limited water intake for the time period of the transport to lessen the risk of impaction or colic in general and will be provided grain once an adequate amount of water has been consumed to maintain hydration and there are other signs of good gut motility present.
We also encourage the client, upon veterinary consultation and approval, to supplement the equine with electrolytes for several days prior to transport and continue the supplementation during the transport and for a several days after the equine's arrival. Clients may also want to discuss with their veterinarian, based on the history of the equine, if other supplementation for travel is needed (i.e. probiotics, ulcer medications, joint supplements, prescribed medications, etc.) In some, if not all, states, the administration of certain supplements and medications, especially prescribed medications, can be considered "practicing veterinary medicine" which is acceptable if it is an animal that is owned by the person administering the supplements or medications. However, if we are to provide certain supplements or medications during the transport, we require the request and instructions be documented in the Transport Contract and may request a letter from the attending veterinarian if necessary since the administration of such supplements or medications by someone other than the owner of the animal or licensed veterinarian may be considered unlawful.
All the preparations and precautions that we take prior to and during transport lessens the chance of errors and further guarantees that the equine is receiving the care and attention to detail that it deserves.