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Re: 2 questions

1) When starting out in endurance rides, do you always have to camp out the night before a ride or can you wake up early and trailer to a ride that morning? If its within 1-2 hours drive would it be harder on your horse to trailer?
I can appreciate the discomforts and hassle of camping out before you really have it all together.  On the other hand, you won't get to really start meeting people until you're hanging around ride camp.  As Tammy has already said, you can trailer in that morning if you make arrangements with the ride manager.
Whether or not it's harder on your horse to do that depends on the horse and how well he travels.  Keep in mind that standing in a moving trailer is not a passive event for the horse---it takes appreciable muscle effort and if the horse is loaded up straight out of his stall/corral, it is possible to cause the same sort of muscle problems you might see if you climbed onto a cold horse and immediately asked for him to move right on out---in other words, elevated muscle enzymes, cramping, potential tying up and so on.  So if you're going to trailer in, I would strongly suggest warming him up just a bit before loading him---not enough to really work up a sweat, but a good ten or fifteen minutes of walking is definitely called for.  You might also consider a blanket for the trailer ride, even if he normally doesn't need one---you don't want him arriving chilly and stiff.  Be sure to warm him up well after unloading as well.
The advantage of being at home the night before is that presumably, your horse is relaxed and happy and so is more likely to eat and drink well, and that's good.  On the other hand, he won't learn to take care of himself away from home until he's...well...away from home. :-)  Just something to keep in mind for the future---once you start camping at rides, be sure to allow him a little extra slack adjusting to the new schedule.  In other words, don't decide to camp out the night before at the same ride you also decide to move up to 50s, right?  One new thing at a time.
Something else to consider is syringing him with some e'lytes before you leave home.  By the time you arrive at camp, his blood sodium level will be a bit elevated, and that creates a thirst response.  Before you saddle up and get going, make sure you give him plenty of opportunity to drink.  And by 'opportunity', I mean give him a few minutes to think about taking a drink and stop watching everything else going on---don't just walk him to the tank and then lead him away if he doesn't immediately dive in up to his ears.  If he does drink, great.  If he doesn't, just offer it to him again at *every* opportunity.  Keep telling yourself that your job at your first few rides is to keep your horse relaxed and easy and learning how to take care of himself.  Come to think of it, that job goes on forever, not just at your first ride or two.
If you haven't seen it already, take a look at the articles on my website called Beating the Metabolic Pull at  They're not the Final Word, but they do have some explanation of your horse's physiology during an endurance ride, and some nutrition things that will help you avoid problems before they occur.
As usual, too much answer for pretty simple questions, eh?  Have fun, good luck and welcome to endurance. :-))))
Susan G

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