As a trail riding veterinarian I have encountered medical situations both on the trail

and at conclusion of the ride-back at camp.

Most notably is the minimally conditioned, dehydrated, colicky, attempting to tie-up or worse the actively tying-up horse.

These horses often ( but not always) are not in the best of physical condition like the “weekend warrior.”

Fortunately with immediate supportive care i.e; placing an intravenous catheter and rapid IV-electrolyte/fluid therapy,

vitamin and mineral replacement, combined with appropriate medicinal intervention

these patients came be successfully treated to reverse the profound electrolyte and dehydration conditions.

There are horses that have had to be euthanized usually a day or two after a ride, because they were

severely de-compensated and conditions are now irreversible as a result of not receiving veterinary care early on in their crisis.

To reduce this common occurrence related to dehydration, ensure the horse has been

adequately trained and conditioned beyond the level of riding anticipated.

This conditioning includes the excitement of being trailered,

being away from home, the excitement of close proximity to many other new horses and

getting along well with other horses, as well as hill, bridge, water obstacle and occasional traffic-just to name a few.

It goes without saying-all horses (and riders) need to be sound and of good general health.

A few days before the event, offer or better yet, add electrolytes to feed.

Offer fresh clean drinking water when practical at all times and better yet, bring water with you to camp that your horse

is accustomed to.

During the ride-allow your horse every opportunity to drink from clean free flowing

natural water.  Use personal judgment and experience with regard to communal water troughs.  Consider using electrolyte paste on the trail if clean water is readily available.

Be careful and avoid stagnated pools especially on any agricultural operations!!!

Once back at camp, loosen the girth and allow the horse to stand for several minutes with the saddle to allow for return of normal blood circulation. Offer fresh cool not cold water but not in great excess.

Brush or curry hair to enhance evaporative cooling.  A sheet maybe indicated based on weather extremes.

Limit grain and hay intake and again offer/use electrolytes or at the very least table salt.

Do a post ride inspection and evaluate your horse for any abnormalities, including limb, eye, and hoof issues.

Seek out veterinary assistance early on if something seems wrong.

Rule #1 Is Be SAFE while having fun

See ya on the trail Dr. Fred out..