Traveling with your horses can be stressful for these animals unless you know about the best trailering practices to follow when transporting horses.
You need a reliable vehicle and trailer for your trip. Have your vehicle serviced by a professional mechanic before leaving for your trip. You should also have your trailer checked to make sure you won’t encounter any issues during the trip.
Here are a few things you should check before leaving:
– Lights should work properly.
– Have your brakes service if you need to.
– You can fully open and close the doors and vents.
– All the windows should work properly.
– Check the trailer floor.
– Test the emergency trailer brake box to make sure it works properly.
– Adjust the tire pressure if needed.
– Your spare tire should be inflated and easy to access.
– Make sure you have a trailer and truck jack and tire chocks.
– Check the ventilation in the trailer and make sure your horses will have enough space.
You need to get your horses ready for the long trip. Load and unload your horses from the trailer to help them get used to it. It is best to start training your horses a few weeks ahead of your trip.
All states require horses to have a current negative Coggins test. Yu will also need a certificate of veterinary inspection that is less than thirty days old. Some states have additional requirements regarding testing and vaccinations. You might need to obtain additional certificates if there are disease outbreaks or other threats at the time of your trip. You should get in touch with the office of the state veterinarian for the state where you are traveling to so you can ask about the requirements you need to meet.
Your horse might stop drinking if the water has a different smell or flavor. If you are unable to bring enough water with you, get your horse used to drinking flavored water a week before your trip. All you have to do is add Kool Aid or Gatorade to your horse’s water. Add the same quantity of Kool Aid or Gatorade to your horse’s water so the flavor remains the same.
Foods rich in electrolytes will make your horse want to drink water during the trip. Feeding your horse some electrolytes is a good way to prevent dehydration but you need to be careful since your horse might end up needing veterinary attention if they eat foods rich in salt without drinking more water.
You should talk to your veterinarian about a few things before leaving:
– Ask how to check the vital signs of your horse.
– Bring up hydration during the trip.
– Long distance trips can cause respiratory illnesses and you need to know how to prevent them.
– Ask about electrolytes.
– Get some recommendations for putting together a first aid kit.
– Ask about your horse’s diet during the trip.
– Find out how to keep your horse calm during the trip.
There are a few things you should pack in your trailer:
– Enough water to last for 24 hours. This should be the same water as the one your horse is used to drinking.
– Bring some flavoring if you decide to use this method.
– Enough hay or feed to last for the entire trip and for a few days after you reach your destination. This should be the same feed your horse is used to.
– An equine first aid kit.
– A blanket if you are traveling during the winter.
– Some spare halters, a spare lead rope and some spare trailer ties.
– Some buckets.
– Bedding for your horse.
– A fire extinguisher.
You need a good layer of bedding in the trailer. Bedding will absorb urine and help keep your horse comfortable. It will also reduce the risks of your hors slipping during the trip.
Ideally, your horse should be able to eat during the trip. This will keep your horse busy and the trip won’t affect your horse’s digestive functions. You can use a hay net, a feeder or a hay bag to keep feed within reach of your horse. Hang the hay bag, feeder or net at chest height or above.
You need to have your horse wear a nylon halter or a leather halter. The halter should fit will and should include a breakaway feature for safety reasons. If the trip is going to last for several hours, add some fleece halter tubes. Your horse might otherwise get stores from the halter, especially if they have sensitive skin.
Traveling can be very tiring for horses because they have to constantly maintain their balance in the trailer. Drive very carefully and make sure you increase or decrease your speed gradually. You should change lanes and turn as slowly as possible. Take frequent breaks and check on your horse regularly. Traveling can be tiring for your horse even if you drive carefully.
Try taking a twenty-minute break every four hours or so. Unload your horse from the trailer so they can walk around and relax. You can also take parking breaks whenever you need to stop. Your horse can stay in the trailer during these breaks. Make sure you park in a shaded area and open windows and upper doors so your horse can get some fresh air.
Check these things during parking breaks:
– Check on your horse to make sure they are in good health. Check for signs of heat or cold stress, dehydration and colic.
– Adjust the ventilation in the trailer. Open more vents and windows if you are traveling during the summer. Use a blanket to keep your horse warm if you are traveling during the winter. The inside of the trailer can get hot, which is why you need to monitor the temperature of your horse frequently during the trip.
– See if your horse wants to drink some water. They might be reluctant to drink at first. It is not unusual for horses to go for several hours without drinking when they are being transported. You should still offer some water every time you stop.
– Add more hay to the feed bag if needed.
– It is not safe to unload your horse from the trailer if you are at a rest stop, at a gas station or on a parking lot.
– If your trip is going to last more than a day, find a stable or a paddock where you can stay overnight and let your horse out of the trailer. There are several horse hotels and some fairgrounds where you can rent stables.
Keep checking on your horse’s health if you stop overnight. Make sure your horse has access to water. Let your horse eat as much hay as they want but reduce their grain intake.