Hitting the road with your horse can trigger significant stress whether your animal is a well-seasoned or rookie traveler. Most horses learn to cope with the stress of short trips, but long distance trips may induce several behavioral and physiological effects.
By being aware of travel stresses and taking steps to minimize their impact, horse owners may be able to help their horse arrive in good condition after transport.
Transport your horse safely with these 8 helpful trailering tips:
1. Avoid Fatigue: The stress and muscular fatigue associated with transport are similar to those resulting from exercise. If travel time is over 12 hours, try to plan overnight stops. It is suggested that competition or performance not be attempted less than 48 hours after a long trip in order to allow the horse’s blood levels and hormones to come back to normal.
2. Keep Your Horse Hydrated: Horses are likely to become dehydrated during transportation. Dehydration can be moderated by offering water periodically during transport. Providing an electrolyte such as Bounce Back will aid in the rehydration process and give your horse the energy he needs to complete the journey.
3. Allow Free Access to Hay: Hay is a great pacifier for traveling horses and helps retain water in their gut. However, in some trailers dust from hay may blow directly into a horse’s respiratory tract. Wetting the hay can help control dust. Avoid feeding grain, as the stress may affect gut function and lead to colic or laminitis.
4. Provide Good Ventilation: Pathogens from dried manure may overwhelm a respiratory system weakened by trailer stress. The trailer should be cleaned out before every trip. If available open windows to allow airflow, this will also help keep your horse at a comfortable temperature.
5. Be a Passenger-Friendly Driver: A slow and steady journey is less stressing for a horse than a swervy fast one.
6. Prevent Injuries: When your horse is shipped with his friends he is less likely to suffer from an injury caused by stress. Traveling with friends will also help horses new to trailering cope with the physical effects of transport.
7. Leave Horses Untied or Tied Long: Horses that can lower their head below the point of their shoulder are less likely to suffer respiratory stress. Although some trailer designs do not allow horses to lower their heads, and some horses have a tendency to fight with their neighbors, IF possible allow horses to lower their heads. This way they may take advantage of carrying their heads naturally and allowing mucus to drain.
8. Educate Yourself About Loading: Loading is the most stressful part of the trailering experience for most horses. Make sure you are comfortable with the procedure. Even if you are not going anywhere, load your horse several times a year and go on a short drive as a refresher.
Manna Pro recommends supplementing with Bounce Back during times of stress! Bounce Back is an Electrolyte Supplement that aids in rehydration and supplies animals with dextrose, giving them the energy when they need it most.
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