Keep Your Horse Safe While Trailering

One crucial aspect of equine care that often goes unnoticed is trailer safety. Transporting horses requires meticulous planning and attention to detail to ensure their journey is as safe and stress-free as possible.

Whether you’re a seasoned rider or have years under your belt, here are some tips to keep everyone safe on the road.

1. Choose the Right Trailer for the Job

Selecting an appropriate trailer is the first step in ensuring equine safety. Make sure it can safely accommodate the weight and size of your horse or horses. Consider not only the size and style but also the construction, materials used, and ventilation. A well-ventilated trailer with secure dividers, solid floors and padded walls reduces the risk of injury and promotes a comfortable travel environment.

Before you start your trip, make sure your vehicle can safely handle the weight.  Check the manufacturer’s specifications to ensure that your vehicle can safely tow the weight of your horses and trailer. Provide regular maintenance and inspection of the truck and trailer before and during travel. 

2. Patiently Load and Secure Your Horse 

Loading and unloading can be stressful for horses. Ensure that your horse is accustomed to the trailer before embarking on a journey. Use positive reinforcement techniques and take your time to build confidence. Avoid rushing, loud noises, or sudden movements that could startle the horse.

Once inside the trailer, horses should be securely tied to prevent injury or accidents. Use quick-release knots for safety and ensure that ties are at an appropriate height to allow the horse to lower its head comfortably. Padding on dividers and walls minimizes the risk of injury during transit. Using leg wraps or shipping boots will help protect their legs from injury and fly masks are useful in preventing debris from getting in their eyes. Never allow a horse to hang its head out of the window.

3. Drive Responsibly and Stop Often

Maintaining proper weight distribution within the trailer is vital for stability on the road. Uneven weight can lead to trailer sway, affecting the vehicle’s handling and potentially causing accidents. Use your brakes gently, take turns slowly and avoid sudden stops. 

Long journeys can be tiresome for both you and your animal, so take regular breaks (at least every 100 miles or so) to give them the chance to stretch their legs and drink water. Pay attention to weather conditions, particularly extreme heat or cold, and adjust your travel plans and stops accordingly. Familiarize yourself with basic equine first aid and have a plan in case of breakdowns or roadside incidents.

By incorporating these trailer safety tips into your transportation routines, we can contribute to stress-free journeys and healthier, happier equine companions. Make every ride a safe and enjoyable experience for our four-legged friends. Safe travels!

This column is sponsored by Polk Equine, and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of CFAN or of its advertisers.

BIO: Dr. Katie Hennessy graduated from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in 2008 with a degree in large animal health and equine medicine. She completed an advanced internship at The Equine Medical Center of Ocala and is currently the owner and practicing veterinarian at Polk Equine.  She specializes in equine medicine.

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