Traveling with your horse can be a stressful time. Some horses may have no problem going to new places, whereas some may have a more difficult time. There are some helpful tips for traveling your horse safely to follow whenever you go anywhere. Whether you are traveling 30 minutes or 12 hours away, you want to make sure your horse is relaxed and safe during the process. Your horse should be comfortable with the idea of riding in a trailer and staying in some place new. Though it can be a stressful process, understanding your horse’s needs can help make it a hassle free process.
Author: Michael Dehaan
Tips For Traveling Your Horse Safely and Happily
Keeping your horses safe is essential when hauling and going to new places. In order to keep their stress levels down, you want them to be as comfortable as possible during the whole process.
Make Sure Your Horse is Healthy
Before heading anywhere, you want to make sure your horse is in good health. They should be up to date on all their vaccinations and have no underlying health issues that would make traveling hard for them. It is also important to deworm your horse prior to going anywhere.
Often if you are crossing state lines, you will have to have a health certificate that was issued by a veterinarian within the last 30 days. You will also need to always have an up to date coggins with you no matter where you go. Having all the proper health certificates will ensure your horse is healthy for travel and you should always carry them with.
Make Sure Your Horse Has Hay
When transporting horses, allowing them free access to hay is recommended to provide nourishment and keep them busy. Hay nets and slow feeders are often used to regulate consumption while hauling. Just be certain the hay nets are hung carefully so a horse can not get tangled up in it.
You should always pack plenty of hay when you are staying overnight. It is recommended to pack a few extra days worth of hay. You should also pack grain for overnight night extended stays, but grain should never be given to a horse when they are traveling in a trailer.
Make Sure Your Horse is Tied Up
To keep them safe, horses should be tied up while hauled. They should have enough room to move their head and neck, but not enough room to reach other horses. It is recommended to use a leather halter in case a horse gets stuck, as it will break easier than a nylon.
Make Frequent Stops and Offer Water
A horse shouldn’t be hauled for more than 12 hours a day, though many recommend no more than eight hours a day. It is advised to make regular stops to make sure your horse is doing alright. Horses shouldn’t be unloaded at this time, they should just be checked on in the trailer.
Stops should be made every 3-4 hours for about 20 minutes at a time. Ideally it should be a shady area to help keep the horses cool. Horses should be offered water in order to keep them hydrated while traveling.
It is recommended to bring water from home, as some horses do not like the taste of water from other places. If you are staying overnight for an extended amount of time, you can bring flavoring to add to the water if your horse is a picky drinker. Start adding the flavoring to your horse’s water a few days prior to let him accumulate.
Consider Using Standing Wraps
Some anxious horses get antsy while traveling and can accidentally injure themselves. Standing wraps and even bell boots can help protect your horse while they travel. They can help minimize any swelling as well as help prevent injuries.
It is very important to make sure you apply the wraps properly. Typically it is a good idea to have your horse wear them prior to hauling to make sure they are used to wearing them. Just be sure to check they aren’t causing any irritation or rubs.
Using bedding while traveling will help your horse feel more comfortable. In addition to providing comfort for while they stand, bedding will also let horses feel comfortable enough to use the bathroom. Some horses do not like to pee on hard surfaces because it can splash on them.
Using bedding will also make it easier to clean up after hauling. Just be sure to avoid dusty bedding. Dusty bedding, especially in stock trailers, can blow around and cause eye irritation and even respiratory problems. If you are concerned, you can have your horse wear a fly mask to protect his eyes.
Pack a First Aid Kit
Since accidents and injuries can occur when you least expect it, it is a good idea to have a first aid kit. They can come in handy if your horse gets hurt or sick. The first aid kit should include at least electrolytes, wound cream, bute paste, gauze, cotton strips, eye wash, hydrogen peroxide, stethoscope, thermometer, soap and scissors.
Give Them Time to Recover
Here is one of the most important tips for traveling your horse safely: Horses need time to recover after riding in a trailer for a long amount of time. Typically a horse will need a day to rest after an 8-12 hour drive. If your horse has been traveling over multiple days, they may need 2-3 days rest before returning to work.
This will help keep your horse healthy and safe. If a horse is forced to do hard work right after traveling, it may cause them additional stress or make them sore.
Practice Loading and Unloading
It is vital that your horse feels comfortable while traveling. Based on body language, you can tell if a horse is relaxed, scared or stressed. If your horse seems anxious when he is in a trailer or is difficult to load, you may need to spend time practicing with him.
Loading and unloading and letting horses get used to a trailer before hauling can allow them to feel more comfortable. Horses that are comfortable in a trailer will be happier and there is less of a chance they will hurt themselves. For some anxious horses, a calming paste may help them travel safely.
Plan Your Trip
A trailer can be up to 20 degrees hotter than the outside temperature. If possible, it is generally best to haul early in the morning when the weather is cooler. This will also help you avoid getting stuck in afternoon rush hour traffic, which typically occurs at the hottest point of the day.
Safe and Sound
Whenever you travel anywhere, it is vital to make sure your horse is safe. This will help minimize the risk of them getting sick or injured. Traveling can be stressful for any horse, so it is important to take the proper precautions to keep them safe and comfortable.
Guest blogger, Michael Dehaan is founder and editor-in-chief at Best Horse Rider. Based in Oklahoma, Michael has been working with horses all his life, acquiring rich experience and professional insights, which he happily shares with other fellow equestrians.
Did you enjoy these tips for traveling your horse safely? Find out more about horse transport in other articles on our website.