Last Updated on February 23, 2022 by Allison Price
ow to improve horse trailering trips Christine Barakat, EQUUS magazine.
Even calm horses are subject to stress reactions starting at loading. Even the most content horses can become dehydrated or have their immune system compromised. Horses that have been recently shipped are much more vulnerable than their appearance suggests. Equine researchers have discovered many subtle effects, if any, of this experience.
These 10 suggestions are based upon current research on shipping’s effects. However, this list may change as new information becomes available. You can reduce stress and improve the horse’s reaction to being on the road.
1. While horses are traveling, don’t tie them or leave them untied. Researchers agree that horses who can lower their heads below the level of their shoulders will experience less respiratory stress. Horses cannot be lowered very far in some trailers, and horses may fight with neighbors if they are allowed to. Allow horses to use the space available to keep their heads down in a natural, mucus draining position.
2. Horses should be transported in familiar and friendly groups. Your horse is less likely to become infected or sustain injury while being shipped with other horses. He won’t feel stressed when he has to deal with new horses.
3. Make sure your trailer is spotless. Dry manure can cause respiratory problems. Pick up manure at every stop if your trip is long. To get rid of all traces of urine and manure, hose the trailer off at the end.
4. Your horse should be taught about loading and shipping. This is the most stressful aspect of shipping and where injuries are most likely. You should make sure that your horse is familiar with all aspects of the process. To help your horse regain his confidence, it is wise to seek the guidance of a patient and experienced trainer if your horse is having trouble loading. Even if you don’t ever travel, it is a good idea to load your horse multiple times per year and take a drive around the neighbourhood.
5. You should maintain good air quality in your trailer. Unless you are shipping in the coldest or wettest climates, there is little chance of horses becoming too cold. If you are unsure about the temperature, cover the horses with blankets and open windows or vents. You can check for drafts by riding in an empty trailer. Adjust vents and windows to redirect strong blasts of cold air that could chill horses. Rear windows should be closed. Floor mats with no bedding or wetting hay can reduce dust buildup in the trailer.
6. Rest horses at least a week after a long journey.Shipping-induced physical changes that leave a horse vulnerable to illness can persist for days after the trip is over. You can ensure that your horse arrives at his destination ahead of any major athletic event to avoid stressing him.
7. You must keep your trailer in top condition. You should pay special attention to the hitch, floorboards, ramp, brakes, and ramp. You should immediately inspect the trailer for any signs of trouble and have it fixed by a professional.
8. Being a compassionate driver is a must. Although there are no large-scale studies on the effects of driver technique upon shipped horses, researchers agree that it is more efficient to take a slow, steady route than one that is erratic and fast. To experience the difference in driving styles, take a ride in an empty trailer. You can test your driving skills by placing a half-full glass water on your dashboard. Passenger-friendly driving means that you can drive with the water not slashing to three-quarters of the glass.
9. Water is vital for dehydration prevention. Every four hours or more, give horses water from home in familiar buckets. Many horses in transit won’t drink for the first eight hours of travel. Some may not be able to drink, while others will continue to give water. Hay acts as a great pacifier for horses traveling by retaining water in their guts. Hay dust can blow into horses’ respiratory tracts in some trailers. The dust can be controlled by wetting the hay. Researchers agree that traveling horses shouldn’t be fed grain. Researchers suspect that stress can cause problems in the gut, which could lead to laminitis or colic.
10. You should cater to the individual needs of each horse. Horses can travel peacefully in conditions that others find difficult. You can experiment with all variables-traveling positions and watering routines, as well as the time of day that you travel-until your horse finds the right combination or the majority of horses that travel together.