There are many reasons why you’d need to transport your horse if you’re a seasoned horse owner – perhaps you are heading to a competition or a horse show. Or maybe you’re thinking of buying a horse and wondering what the best approaches are for getting your new horse back to the yard. Here at Country and Stable, we have collated our very best advice when it comes to transporting your horse safely in a trailer.
Choosing an appropriate horse trailer
It is obviously very important to find a suitable trailer to transport your horse in. One of the first decisions you will face is whether you prefer a tow-behind / bumper pull trailer, or a gooseneck / fifth wheel style trailer (probably better for longer haul trips). Another consideration is if your horse can comfortably fit in the trailer – it should be of adequate height so that your horse can raise their head. We recommend that the trailer height is 10 inches above your horse’s head with at least 4 inches on each side of its body so that the horse can stabilize itself when your vehicle stops.
Whatever your trailer preference, the horse trailer you choose must allow you to load and unload your horse safely and have a suitable unloading method in case of an emergency. All trailers should have electric brakes, a breakaway brake and safety chains. If you choose a tow-behind/bumper pull trailer, make sure the hitch receiver is rated for the weight of horse you will be pulling. Also, ensure that you have extra mirrors on your vehicle so that you have maximum visibility of the trailer and the road around you.
Safety and maintenance of your trailer…
Before taking your horse out in the trailer, practice driving with the trailer attached to your vehicle. We also recommend practising hooking the trailer up and parking so that you don’t find yourself stressed or unsure on the day you need to move your horse.
Maintaining your trailer is also very important: ensure it is remains road worthy so that you don’t cause unnecessary harm to yourself, your horse or any other road users. Take the time to inspect your trailer before each use to ensure that the brakes and tyres are not overly worn and that your lights work. We recommend checking with your state authority for the inspections you are dutifully obliged to carry out on your trailer.
Preparing your horse for a trip in the trailer…
Ensure that your trailer is equipped with water for hydration; trailers can get extremely hot which can unsettle your horse. Offer your horse water every 2 hours whilst travelling to avoid dehydration You could even pack a salt lick or an electrolyte solution to ensure your horse remains hydrated.
Monitor the temperature of your trailer, ensuring it is well ventilated; some trailers even have open roof rents for extra air circulation. Make sure that you also have bedding within the trailer as well as a bucket of feed. We also recommend taking a look at the horse health and well-being section of our site to find other helpful items to take with you on your journey, including first aid kits and leg wraps.
When it comes to loading your horse onto the trailer you will want to ensure that their footing is as stable as possible. Avoid parking on gravel or mud as this will make the process more difficult and stressful. Load in an area with plenty of space, good lighting and away from crowds.
If you are travelling with one horse in a two-stall trailer always load the horse on the driver side. If you are loading two horses, load the heaviest horse on the driver’s side. It has often been suggested that horses facing away from the direction of travel have a less stressful experience, though all horses are different and you will need to work out what is best for your horse.
Transporting your horse in the trailer…
It goes without saying, once you get out onto the highway, consider your driving – don’t accelerate too quickly, or brake too hard. One thing that some drivers don’t realise when they drive with their trailer attached is that the trailer will take time to catch up with the direction of your vehicle, so ensure that you maintain a steady speed and wait for the trailer to straighten out.
Make plans to stop so that your horse can relieve itself, hydrate and rest. We recommend you unload your horse in a safe place where it has space to move around and stretch. When it is time to unload your horse, ensure that you are again positioned in a stress-free environment and give your horse time for their senses to adjust.
Riding in a trailer is stressful for horses and the experience can really take it out on them both mentally and physically. Once you have completed your journey, give your horse some time to recover. And remember, the more you do it, the more you and your horse will get into a routine, making the experience much less stressful.
What are your best tips for travelling with your horse in a trailer?
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