Safe Travels

Posted by Kimi Lehmann on

There are many different reasons for horse owners to transport their horse. Some riders go to shows almost every weekend, sometimes even across the country. Others go on vacation with their horse or take them on a trip to the beach. Unfortunately, there are also not so pleasant reasons to transport a horse: If the horse has colic and the vet can no longer help at home, you have to take the horse to the clinic. In such an emergency, everything has to be done quickly. In these situations we realized how important it is to be prepared for transport at all times. The most important things should be settled in advance.

Loading the Horse

First of all, this means that the horse must be easy to load. In emergencies in particular, it is extremely important that the horse walks into the trailer in a routine and relaxed manner. There are many different methods of training. In our opinion, there is no such thing as one correct method to train loading, everyone should find out for themselves and their horse what works best in their individual cases. There are specialized trainers who will come to the stables and can practice with you and your horse on site.

Allow enough time for loading your horse to make sure that there is no stress. It's best to have a second person to support you. You lead the horse onto the trailer, the helper closes the bar behind the horse and only then (!) Is the horse tied up. Then the door is closed.

Bureaucratic things during transport

Another point is the “bureaucratic things”. In addition to a valid inspection certificate and regular inspections of the towing vehicle, this also includes the appropriate insurance for the vehicle and trailer. You should also take care of that in advance so that you don't have to worry about anything else in an emergency. 
Furthermore, it is important to check the electronics before every transport. Particularly important: check brake lights and indicators. Both are extremely important for a safe journey with the trailer.

Prepare the trailer

In order to make the transport as comfortable as possible for the horse, the trailer should be well prepared before loading. We always have a large hay net in the trailer that we fill every time. That helps against boredom on the go. We also put shavings or straw in - this is also required by law in some countries. For longer journeys and generally in summer we also take a water canister with us. So you can water on the go if you get stuck in a traffic jam, for example. 

Prepare the horse

In a normal case, it is beneficial to feed the horse roughly an hour before the transport, so the horse isn't hungry and the digestive system is not running empty, so stress won't have a big impact. That way, horses tend to stay calmer during transport and have less stress. Also, as mentioned above, a full hay net is helping with hunger and digestion. 
Not only before a show, but also before normal transport we like to brush our horses and make sure they are clean before loading. That way you check your horse for any issues and little injuries before loading and also make travelling more comfortable. Just imagine an itchy spot because of dirt and not being able to scratch.
Also, we like to put a rug on, which might cause rubbing when the horse is still dirty.
For equipment, it is important to have a halter and a lead rope to be able to securly attach your horse in the trailer. Preferably, we like to use soft padded halters or halters with fur. That way the head is softly protected and no fastenings can hurt your horses head. In order to be able to release the horse quickly in case of an emergency, a lead rope with a panic hook should be used. 

As for comfort, we like to put on a rug that is suitable for the weather. In summer, we like to use a lightweight fly rug that keeps away annoying insects but don't add any heat. 
On chilly mornings, it is important to keep the sensitive back area warm and protect it against cold airflow. Cooler - Fly Rug Combos are ideal for these days. They keep your horse from cold air but are also lightweight and do not add too much warmth. The mesh combo cooler sheet is our favourite for these days. 
For overall chilly spring and autumn days, we go for a cooler or a cooler softshell combo rug that protects the back against cold air but stays breathable and transports moisture away from the horse. 
For winter transports and cold days it is important to not only protect the horse against cold wind but also to provide warmth. Lined and filled show rugs are ideal for these days. 
Additionally, we secure all rugs with cross surcingles or if the rug doesn't have those an additional elastic rug surcingle is used. 

Furthermore, PROTECTION is a very big topic for us. 
Personally, I always use travel boots when I put my horse on a trailer, also front and back. Just to be sure that my horses legs are fully covered against impacts or when it accidentally starts sliding or stepping onto itself. As there were concerns about travel boots sliding down, I also add Bell Boots on all four legs to prevent sliding down. 
As an alternative you can also use stable bandages with a big, soft pad. With these it is important to put the pad also above the joints to protect them and to be sure about how to bandage properly or to have a person to check the bandages. It is important to bandage nice and tight, so nothing can slide down but also not too tight so the blood flow isn't interrupted.  

Driving with a horse and trailer

Driving with a trailer is a completely different type of driving. You always have to think three steps ahead in your head. Apart from the fact that the braking distance with a 600kg horse on the trailer is longer anyway, abrupt braking maneuvers must also be avoided in order not to endanger the safety of the horse. When things get tight or you are pressured, try to stay calm. Unfortunately, not all drivers can understand that you have to drive with a horse trailer at an appropriate speed. 

 

 

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