It’s essential to understand the importance of keeping your horse stress-free during transport. A trip can be as hard on your horse as it is on you. It can leave your animal tired, sore, and uncomfortable. Whether you are a competitor, a trail rider, or just transporting your horse to a different location, preparations beforehand, a few trip guidelines, and packing the right supplies can make all the difference. Here are a few tips…
Preparations to keep your horse stress-free during transport
Before planning your trip make sure your horse is healthy, conditioned, and physically fit. Check with your vet to verify that vaccinations are up-to-date. If you are traveling across borders, you may need documentation. Keep in mind that requirements change from state to state. The most common required documents include a Health Certificate, Brand Inspection, and a negative Coggins test.
Make sure your trailer is in good shape and the appropriate size for your horse. Remember, your horse is going to be standing and balancing themselves throughout the trip. If you have an enclosed trailer, plan on including bedding to provide comfort and decrease stress on your horses’ feet and joints. Also, make sure the trailer has proper ventilation. Even in the winter, horses need fresh air. A couple of weeks or even a month before you leave, practice loading your horse into the trailer and take a few short trips. Having them become accustomed to the trailer will help keep your horse stress-free. Most horses will adapt well to travel but there are some who can’t handle it due to age, illness, injuries, or temperament. It’s good to know these things beforehand rather than an hour or so into your trip.
Before leaving, research locations for breaks and rest stops. Plan to stop every 3-6 hours for at least 20 minutes. For long trips, most experts recommend no more than 12 hours on the road and overnight stops of at least 8 hours. Look for overnight places that include an area where your horse can be turned out and has a deeply padded stall for a good night’s rest. Also, check the weather. If it is hot, traveling at night may be beneficial. The temperature will be cooler, and the traffic will probably be lighter.
Proper hydration is a major concern for horses during travel and should start well before your trip. Many experts suggest feeding bran mush, supplemented with electrolytes, a day or so before you travel to encourage your horse to drink more.
Trip guidelines to keep your horse stress-free during transport
During your trip, it is important to offer water, refill hay, and monitor your horses’ vital signs. A normal temperature should range between 98-101, a normal pulse between 36-44, and a normal respiratory rate should be 8-20 breaths a minute. Also, check to make sure your horses’ gums are a pale pink color. This shows that they are getting enough water.
The stress of travel and changes in water can sometimes lead to colic. Consequently, it is important to watch for indications that your horse may be having a problem. Signs of a problem could include unusual sounds in their abdomen, abdomen pain-pawing, looking at their sides, trying to lay down in the trailer, or not eating. Some experts suggest taking a supply of your own water because some horses will not drink water that tastes or smells unfamiliar.
To keep your horse stress-free during transport it is important for them to be able to put their heads down. According to Gray (n.d.) this “not only helps them with balance, but it also helps them clear their airways of debris, bacteria and viruses, and discharge which could lead to respiratory disease.” If it’s going to be a long trip, standing wraps can provide extra support and help with swelling in your horses’ legs. The wraps should be changed daily and removed during long rest breaks. If your horse is wearing wraps, check them regularly for rubs, sores, and irritation. If they do appear, Curicyn’s Original Formula Spray can be applied 3 times a day. This will help reduce any inflammation and promote healing.
Supplies to keep your horse stress-free during transport
Have your vet’s contact information and any prescribed medications. It’s also a good idea to take a few extra days’ supplies of meds, just in case. Bring hay from your home barn and if possible, bring enough to last for 1-2 weeks at their new location.
If you are using an open trailer you may want to purchase a fly mask for your horse’s face to reduce dust and wind that can lead to respiratory problems and/or eye irritation.
Finally, responsible owners always travel with an equine first aid kit in case of an emergency. Curicyn’s Equine Triage Kit makes an excellent choice. It contains all the necessary wound care items you may need in a handy carrying case that can hang in your trailer.
To keep your horse healthy, comfortable, and happy during trips make sure they are well fed and have plenty of water. Include rest breaks and overnight stays if needed. And no matter how well your horse traveled, allow them time to recuperate when you get to your destination. Curicyn’s Equine Kit will benefit both you and your horse. To add to that, Curicyn’s prices are exceptional. Pick up the Equine Kit at your local Curicyn retailer or order online and get free shipping in the continental US. Check them out…
13 Tips to prepare your horse for long distance travel. (February 21, 2017). Equo. Retrieved from https://www.ridewithequo.com/blog/13-tips-to-prepare-your-horse-for-long-distance-travel
Blickle, A. (June 28, 2018). The long haul: traveling long-distances with horses. The Horse. Retrieved from https://thehorse.com/158895/the-long-haul-traveling-long-distances-with-horses/
Gray, L. (n.d.) Traveling with your horse: how to have a happy, healthy horse when you arrive. SmartPak Equine. Retrieved from https://www.smartpakequine.com/content/traveling-with-horses
Heath, B. (2014). 10 Must-read tips: safe-long-distance traveling with your horse trailer. Double D Trailers. Retrieved from https://www.doubledtrailers.com/10-must-read-tips-safe-long-distance-traveling-with-your-horse-trailer/