Letters: 02/01

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Hartmeyer Saddlery Catalog
When the December Horse Journal arrived, I thought: “Oh, how nice, a directory of catalogs.” But I was disappointed that Hartmeyer Saddlery was not listed. We have a wonderful new, free 150-page all-color catalog with “Everything English,” including seactions on training and show tack, saddle seat/hunt seat/dressage apparel, driving, tack trunks, stall drapes, rubber flooring, horse clothing, gifts and books. 100% satisfaction is guaranteed. Shipping is $6-$16 (saddles included). We can be reached at 800/225-5519 or www.hartmeyer.com.

-Jane Hartmeyer Ginther
Hartmeyer Saddlery President
Muncie, IN

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Trailering And Feeding
In response to your article on traveling to the winter circuit (November 2000), my vet recommends not feeding at all while the trailer is moving. The reason for this is that horses are designed to eat with their heads down and could choke while eating with their head tied higher while in transit.

I had never heard of this phenomenon, but when I mentioned it to my barn buddies one woman said, “Yup, it happened to my friend’s horse and it fell in the trailer.” Fortunately they were only traveling a short distance, and the horse was dragged out of the trailer by several men and resuscitated.

The other danger of feeding while moving, which you did cover, is having hay or other feed materials blowing around inside the trailer, a potential hazard to eyes and to the respiratory system.

I’ve never gone wrong taking my vet’s advice. He has a lot more experience in these matters than I do and has access to a considerably greater body of information. And of course we all should know by now that when horses are left unattended, “If something can go wrong, it usually does.”

-Candy Odiome
Eagle, ID

Although rare, horses that otherwise have no problems with choke may do so when eating hay on a trailer. Among the factors considered to contribute are a high head position when eating, insufficient saliva secondary to a degree of dehydration or too rapid eating with insufficient chewing.

If a horse’s head is being held too high when chewing (nose above the vertical), he will have difficulty swallowing. If feeding in the trailer, make sure the hay is at chest level or lower, and the horse is not tied in so shortly that he cannot position his head here comfortably.

Some degree of dehydration is extremely common when shipping, especially if the horse has been competing all day long or has a very long trip. Frequent watering stops will help prevent this, as will making sure plain salt is added to the grain ration (an ounce or two should do it) the day before shipping and while on the road to drive the thirst reflex.

Wetting the hay, as mentioned in the article, is also a good idea. Simply dunk the flakes a few times in a bucket of water before loading it into the hay bag. To prevent overly hungry horses from literally biting off more than they can chew and swallow efficiently, always use a hay bag or net that makes it difficult for the horse to get much hay at one time.

Not feeding during the trip will obviously eliminate any chance of choke on the road, but we believe the horse still may choke at rest stops or overnight (dehydration, insufficient chewing). Not feeding for prolonged periods also increases risk of digestive upset and colic.