When it comes to transporting our horses, it is vital to their health (and your sanity) that you take the necessary precautions to not only ensure as safe as possible journey, but also a healthy, happy horse at the other end of your trip.While planning for long haul trips may differ from planning for a short trip there’s no harm in treating the journey as though they are same. Obviously vehicle maintenance is a top priority to any travel, while we can’t prepare for unexpected breakdowns or flat tyres and well maintained vehicle is a fundamental tool in transporting your horse.
Let there be Air
Ensuring your vehicle has enough ventilation is also very important. While it may be important to you that you stay warm and dry, if you sleep in the same area when you get to your destination, it’s incredibly important your horse is getting enough air during the journey. Ensure the flooring remains non-slip for the entire trip. It is recommended, particularly on long trips, that faeces and urine-soaked material be removed during periodic stops to help ensure your horse isn’t exposed to excessive inhalation of the ammonia fumes that come from urine breaking down over long periods, as this can cause respiratory irritation.It is important your horse is given as much freedom to move their head as is safe. Prolonged time with their head restrained in an upward posture can severely compromise lung clearance mechanisms and predispose a horse to shipping fever.
When it comes to long haul trips in particular, planning fuel stops and rest or recovery periods will help ease the stress of travelling. While there is much debate about whether you should unload at each rest stop, a general “rule” to consider is taking breaks roughly every 4 hours for 20 minutes or more. The stopped break gives your horse an opportunity to relax in the trailer and “unlock” their legs. Always offer your horse a drink when you’re taking a break, often during transport horses will not drink for several hours, regardless of this, you should offer them water. Refill hay supply and check their overall disposition.
Prevention better than Cure
We know that hauling can cause stress for your horse. A maintenance dose of Abprazole three days before the journey, during the competition and three days after the event will reduce the incidence of gastric ulcer flare ups.
The extra care taken to make a trip run smoothly, especially for competitions, can positively impact on your performance. A happy, healthy horse is more likely to perform well than a horse whose general well being while travelling has been ignored.