When it’s time to travel, don’t forget how your horses are going to get to your destination. Your trailer is crucial to safely getting your horses from A to B, even if it is just down the road.
It’s a good idea to have a quick trailer safety checklist in mind before setting off. Starting from the outside, check tire pressure (including the spare), inspect all locks and latch fastenings, lights and the brake connections to the truck. When opening the ramp or back doors look for any sharp edges and make sure the doors can be secured open for loading and unloading. Thoroughly inspect the floor to make sure that there is no damage to the floor or sides and that the rubber matting is securely in place. Partitions should be padded and each horse should have enough room to stand straight with head space. Check the air vents to make sure there is continuous fresh air flow thru the trailer.
Horse preparation is just as critical for a safe trip. Horses that have never entered a trailer will most likely find the experience scary. It is necessary to train them to load and stand inside the trailer. Horses that have travelled before would benefit from a “refresher” lesson to reduce stress on the travel day.
Horses riding in a trailer are unable to see what’s coming ahead of them on the road and are required to continuously balance themselves. The constant muscle use can be as strenuous as exercise. Horse’s need to brace themselves against the movement of the trailer and will use the trailer sides for support to some degree. If your horse has too much space, they run the risk of falling.
While driving, avoid sharp acceleration, sudden braking and take corners carefully avoiding pot-holes and other hazards that may make for a bumpy ride. Shavings on the trailer floor will absorb any urine so the footing does not become slippery. A hay bag may help to keep your horse calm and occupied during the journey. If you’re traveling for a few hours or your horse is a nervous traveller, then you should stop to check on them regularly. When taking long trips over four hours, you should take breaks from driving to give your horses a chance to rest their muscles.
Don’t forget to talk with your veterinarian to make sure you have up to date coggins and a health certificate if you are traveling out of state.