Finally, sweet summertime! The opportunities that await us are endless – horse shows, rodeos, camping, trail riding, and more! Some events are right around the corner while others could be hours, maybe even days, away. When traveling during the summer months, it is important as horse owners to be cautious of the oven-like temperatures and stresses that can occur in your horse trailer. Here are a few things to keep in mind while traveling:
- Practice loading and unloading your horse calmly. Many of us do not think about loading or unloading our horses until we are actually doing it. This can be stressful on a horse that is not used to doing it regularly which causes stress for the owner as well! If you are getting ready to head out for a long drive, practice loading and unloading your horse for a few weeks prior. This will help reduce stress when the time comes to actually load up for your destination.
- Only transport horses that are in good health. Not only is it dangerous for other horse owners when you transport a sick horse to different locations, it is also extremely dangerous for your horse. Transport stress can compromise the immune system of a horse.
- Check and record your horse’s vital signs before departure. This can be used as a comparison during your trip.
- Ditch the sheet or blanket. Sheets and blankets help to keep your horse clean but they can actually trap in heat on your horse’s skin which may cause them to overheat. Just do away with them for your travels!
- Ventilate the trailer. Before loading horses, open all windows and vents to allow airflow through the trailer. If you have fans, turn them on as well.
- Make any modifications necessary. Leaving the windows open while traveling is great for your horse. Add window screens to your windows to protect your horse’s face. If this is not possible, put a fly mask on your horse to protect their eyes. Remove head dividers (if possible) to allow for more air flow.
- Install a thermometer in the back of the trailer. When you stop periodically, check the temperature gage every three to four hours on the road and make sure it is not getting too hot in the trailer.
- Bring plenty of water. We cannot stress this enough! Bring lots of water. If possible, bring it from home and put it in a water tank. That way your horse will be used to and comfortable with the taste.
- Load everything BEFORE the horses. The horses should be the last thing to load the trailer. This will help to avoid heat buildup in the trailer.
- Drive at night or during cooler parts of the day. This will help reduce heat and discomfort for horses during travel.
- When you stop, check your horse’s vital signs and compare them to the originals.
- Offer your horse water at least every four hours while on the road. Some horses won’t drink while they are on a moving trailer.
- Unload horses periodically. This will let your horse get more fresh air, stretch their legs a bit, and allow them to relax.
- Park in the shade. Whenever you make stops on your trip, park in the shade. This will help keep the temperature down in the trailer.
Take precautions when traveling during the summer months. Your horse will be much more comfortable!
For more information on traveling in the heat, visit: http://www.thehorse.com/articles/21445/20-hot-weather-trailering-tips