As many equestrians now prepare to move their horses back home from winter locales like Florida and Aiken, we thank Isola Shipping and Athletux for this list of tips for keeping your precious cargo happy and healthy on the road. Run by Durr Eventing & Show Jumping and David Taylor of Elevation Dressage & Eventing, Isola Shipping is a unique horse transportation company that combines quality safe transportation with those who know high performance horses firsthand.
Photo courtesy of Isola Shipping.
1. Ensure you always have your horse’s health documents along for all trips.
It is always important to discuss the details of shipping your horse with your vet, so they can ensure that your horse is healthy and ready for the trip, and that you have everything you need to go. All states will require a current negative coggins test, a health certificate from your vet from within the past 30 days, and proof of all testing and vaccinations that your horse has had. Before traveling check the vaccination requirements for all states that your horse will be traveling through as the horse may need obtain shots specific to those states.
2. Prepare yourself for any emergency.
Create an equine first aid kit, although you can never control or foresee what could potentially happen to your horse on a long haul, at least you have an opportunity to prepare yourself to react to those kinds of situations. Place the kit in an accessible and memorable spot and inform the driver as to where it is located, so all are prepared in the case of an emergency. Also be sure to include a spare halter that is not kept in your trailer (in your truck is a good idea).
3. Check over your rig thoroughly before travel.
Properly inspect your tow vehicle in all aspects before departing. With trailers they may weather out before they wear out so although their tread may be good, they may be cracked and weathered out, so it is important that they are safe for hauling. Check to make sure that your lights can be seen, check both your blinkers, and brake lights. Ensure that your fluid levels and belts can handle the extra stress of hauling, and make sure your
transmission is in proper shape to be hauling. It is important to be sure that your brakes are ready to stop the weight that you are going to be hauling. Lastly check your mirrors for visibility, so you know you will be able to see the entire length of your truck and trailers, so you can continually check on your trailer and its tires.
4. Keep your horse well hydrated.
While traveling, your horse should have access to water ever three to six hours. Some water will taste or smell different from the water that your horse is accustomed to at home. A few days before hauling, mix in apple juice or Gatorade to mask the smell and taste of the water and continue doing so on the trip so the horse does not resist drinking water from new places.
5. Cautiously utilize leg wraps if accustomed.
If your horse is used to having its legs wrapped before being hauled, utilize them properly and make sure to change them daily and allow the legs to to breathe. If your horse is being shipped commercially, address this with the shipper to learn about their wrapping preference. Shippers may prefer for horses to not be wrapped if layovers are planned. Ensure to be aware of the weather, if it is over 85 degrees, leg wraps should not be utilized.
Photo courtesy of Isola Shipping.
6. Allow your horse free access to hay.
Your horse should have continual access to hay while traveling. If your horse tends to eat quite fast, utilize a slow feeding hay bag to minimize its’ chance of choke. Hang the hay bag as low as possible without the chance of the horse’s legs getting into it. Bring along enough hay to last the trip and a little extra for its new location.
7. Monitor the vital signs of your horse.
After each rest stop and when you have completed hauling, closely watch their vital signs to catch signs of stress, colic, or other potential illnesses. Check your horses’ temperature, pulse, and their respiratory rate. Closely keep an eye on your horse and the way is presents itself to be sure that you catch warning signs of sickness early.
8. Lay down proper bedding in trailer.
Utilizing bedding in the trailer will reduce stress on your horses’ joints and feet and will make them more comfortable during travel. If your trailer is open you must be cautious that it does not get stirred up by the wind, which could lead to respiratory problems. Avoiding dusty bedding will also aid in avoiding respiratory problems while traveling.
9. Choose a proper halter to travel in.
Ensure your horse is wearing a well-fitted halter with a breakaway feature. During long trips you could consider placing fleece halter tubes over parts of the halter to aid in preventing rubbing or sores while traveling. This could be very helpful for horses with sensitive skin.
10. Give your horse a chance to rest after long travel.
One hour of traveling in a trailer is equal to one hour of walking for a horse. They will more than likely be tired and in need of essential nutrients in their diet. Give them a chance to acclimate to their environment and allow them rest. A good rule of thumb is that the number of rest hours should be equal to the number of travel hours.
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