Prepare Your Horse For Shipping And Trailering
Wherever the road takes you and your horse, it’s up to you to make the journey as breezy and stress-free as possible. Travel stress can take a toll on your horse’s health and may affect their performance if they participate in equine sports.
Preparing For Shipping Or Trailering Your Horse
It’s a good idea to prepare your horse for traveling by rehearsing loading and going for short trips throughout the year. You may also want to have them get acclimated to wearing leg wraps or bandages to protect and support their legs during longer trips.
If you plan on trailering your horse for a long trip, have your trailer inspected for signs of damage. You can take the trailer or a trailer dealer or body shop to have it looked over by a professional. You should also know the basic ins-and-outs of your trailer so you can give it a quick inspection of your own before each trip. Test the breaks and all of the moving parts, and keep an eye out of rust, rot, and other obvious physical damage.
Whether you’re shipping your horse with a professional shipping company or hauling them yourself, schedule a check-up with your equine veterinarian in advance. Your horse may need health documents like vaccine records, proof of a negative Coggins test, and a health certificate.
During The Trip
When loading your horse, tie with breathing room in mind. If possible, leave your horse untied, or tied with a long slack. Your horse should be able to drop their head to cough and clear their airways.
Horses are prone to digestive issues related to travel stress. You can support your horse’s digestion by giving them a probiotic supplement, avoiding grains for the duration of the trip, and soaking their hay in water prior to feeding.
Stop every three to four hours to give your horse water. No need to unload, just stop for 30-60 minutes to give your horse a break. You can use these breaks to check your horse’s vital signs, conduct a quick “skin tent test” for dehydration, and clear out manure, if possible.
Keep in mind that many horses are picky about their water. They may not like the taste of water sourced at your destination. To ensure your horse stays hydrated, you can bring along “their” water, or supplement their water with something familiar, like apple juice or molasses.
For trips that span multiple days, make sure to travel for no more than 18 hours at a time. Stop in a safe, secure area where both you and your horse can get some rest.