Horses are animals that are sensitive to their surroundings and can easily become flustered and confused when not handled properly.
Many horses become accustomed to traveling at a young age so it is not too hard to load them into a horse trailer to take long trips. However, some horses do not like the idea of traveling and will shy away from being loaded into a small trailer.
The best way to guarantee a smooth trip when traveling with a horse is to prepare in advance to get the horse used to being loaded in the carrier.
In fact, the process of loading a horse into the carrier may be one of the most common factors that lead to anxiety and distress in the horse. For horses that are hard to control, a veterinarian may recommend using a tranquilizer to hold them through the trip.
Professional veterinarians recommend making a first aid kit just in case something were to happen while you are on the road.
The next step in preparing to travel with a horse is to prepare enough room for the horse to be comfortably tied up while being close enough to a bucket of water to avoid being uncomfortable or dehydrated.
Two good rules of thumb for traveling with horses is to:
- keep trips under ten hours and
- take frequent breaks every three hours to make sure the horse is doing well.
To protect the legs of the horse, it is a good idea to use trailering boots that help to keep the horses legs stabilized so that they don’t risk falling over. In addition, a head bumper can be used to protect their head from the ceiling in the case of hard turns, bumps, or the general restlessness of the horse. On the same note, the horse trailer needs to be clean, well-ventilated, and have a means of protection from outside bugs and debris.
It is not uncommon for horses to lose some body mass during long trips due to dehydration or eating less than normal.
It is estimated that a horse of average size may lose between .45 and 0.55 percent body mass over the duration of the trip.
This is why it is important to keep the horse hydrated with water and electrolyte-rich drinks like Gatorade.
Most importantly, the horse should be checked for illness before the trip so as to avoid any major illnesses that could influence the horse’s health. Medication should be avoided at all costs and only used minimally to avoid any type of unexpected adverse reactions.
The time of day of the trip will also effect how well a horse can travel, which is why they should not be transported in any type of extreme weather.
Finally, once the horse has arrived at their destination, they should be checked for transport related illnesses and fatigue. Signs of illness, dehydration, hunger, fatigue, or other damage will generally present itself within three days.
The key to traveling well with horses is to pay attention to details and only take pre-planned routes to avoid any type of roadside emergency that could put the horse’s life in danger.