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I have read articles from horse vet experts saying a horse should be introduced to new feed slowly.
I also have read books where cavalry men and horse adventurers described all the different things your horse could eat while on the road, and how to do it so as not to hurt the horse.

The vet is correct in his/her world. And the cavalry man and long rider are correct in their world. How is this possible?

There used to be a Russian website up called chortaj.com. it was about Russian hunting greyhounds and greyhounds in general. A multi year study with two groups of greyhounds- British racing greyhounds and Russian peasant hunting greyhounds- showed that the latter survived on far less calories per day. And that also, they required a lower protein diet to thrive. I was always blown away by that. Basically genetics / breeding causes a totally different metabolism within the same species.

When people breed selectively they do so for all types of characteristics. This is a huge topic and it’s pretty much outside the paremeters of my books. I do enjoy talking about it at length, whatever the species, so if it’s something you like too, let me know.

While choosing my trip horses, it was very important for me to have a forward, easy keeper with great feet. Those were my top 3 qualities I looked for.

I totally lucked out in getting these qualities and more with Roxy. I had studied up on the Morgan breed before hand, and knew they were super easy keepers and had been used extensively in the past as a cavalry horse, as well as presently by the Amish for buggy and riding. In the first thousand or so miles many people recommended I use a Mustang. After the first 4 months I never really heard that anymore. Proof is in the pudding right? I could go on about the Morgan breed, but I think what’s more important is going on about the qualities that are necessary to succeed.

For many of us horse owners, colic and laminitis are always lurking around the corner. How do we keep them from attacking your horse? In general, but particularly on a long ride, a horse with a good digestive system is your best ally. Yes, there are many feeding techniques that improve digestion and reduce the chances of colic and laminitis.

But, I want to stress this here: PROPER FEEDING TECHNIQUES WILL NOT MAKE UP FOR THE HORSE WITH POOR DIGESTION WHILE ON THE ROAD- the feed varies too much…

Unless you are super rich and have a support vehicle on your ride, while on your trip you will be at the mercy of what you can get, when you can get it.

Just like many people can’t handle travelling because of the change in diet, so is it the same with horses. I’m not super fit or super healthy, but I can eat pretty much anything and I’m OK with it. My horse is the same.

The long ride feeding program is divided into 2 parts:
1. Feed content
2. Feeding schedule and order.

It’s important to know ahead of your ride what your feed options are going to be, so you can make your custom tailor this program- especially when only traveling with one horse and you don’t have much room to bring feed with you…

I could go into detail about all the different types of feed I saw along the way but I will summarize it instead:
1 Until crossing the Mississippi, OK hay nothing fancy. Lots of sweet feed as I got into West Virginia and south.
2. Arkansas to Central Texas: lots of Bermuda grass, still sweet feed.
3. Central/ south Texas to border: lots of alfalfa! and bermuda
4. Northern Mexico: Alfalfa or regular hay.
5. Central Mexico: same
6. Southern Mexico: corn leaves dry or fresh, sorghum, tall grasses, hay only with serious horse people or rich people. Corn for feed.
7. Guatemala: corn leaves dry or fresh, other green stuff locally growing. Same as Southern Mexico for hay. Corn for feed.

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Based on my experience along my route, I don’t recommend traveling with one only horse south of Puebla Mexico. I found the feed and hay quality to be lower and more inconsistent the further south I went.

Roxy got a bit of laminitis after riding HARD thru Oaxaca. We were trying to get thru the remote areas and then the heat. We rode 680 kms in 30 days and sometimes in 40c weather, most of it over 30c. By the time we rested up in Tuxtla Mexico, Roxy came down with some subclinical laminitis. This was only noticeable after she was fed omelina 100 or corn. After we took out the grain she was not in pain, and was back to normal in 2 weeks. I has to include that at that point I was not adding canola oil (big mistake) and I had run out of the custom supplements from Mad Barn and was waiting a resupply.

I will include a detailed feeding program as well as my experiences with the different hay, grass and feed that Roxy ate in my upcoming photo book THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO SOLO HORSE TRAVEL.

 

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You can buy it here:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/5000milesofhope/5000-miles-of-hope-250-photos-and-stories

THANKS FOR SHARING!