Travelling with your horse can open up a wonderful world of possibilities, from summer shows to horsey holidays. However, it’s important to make sure you’re well prepared so that your horse reaches your destination in good form.
All kitted out
Before you set off on your journey, make sure your horse is suitably attired. It’s advisable that he wears…
- travel boots or bandages to protect his legs. Whichever option you choose, it’s important that they fit correctly – too loose and they may slip and become a hazard, too tight and they may restrict blood flow
- a leather headcollar, which will break much more easily in an emergency. Choose one with padded sections at the nose and poll for extra comfort
- a tail bandage and guard to protect his tail. For longer journeys it’s often better to just use a tail guard, as a bandage could affect his circulation if it’s too tight. Choosing one with an attached tail bag will help keep his tail clean
- a cooler or fleece rug to stop him getting chilly. However, keep in mind that it can get very warm in the back of a lorry or trailer, so unnecessary rugging may make him hot and uncomfortable
- a poll guard to protect his head if he’s a nervous traveller
Take a break
It’s important to stop at least every three or four hours to give your horse a break and allow him to lower his head. This helps to drain his nasal passages of hay, dust and other debris that might otherwise enter his lungs and cause respiratory disease. However, unless you’re parked in an enclosed area you know is safe, don’t take him off the trailer or lorry – not only is there a chance he won’t load again, but being in an unfamiliar environment with lots of potential hazards could make him unpredictable and put you both in danger.
Your rest stops are a good time to offer your horse a drink. Dehydration is a real danger when travelling long distances, particularly when the weather’s warm, so it’s important that he keeps drinking to minimise the risk of impaction colic. If he’s reluctant, try adding a splash of apple juice to the water or offering him a slushy, soaked feed, such as sugar beet. It’s also important to make sure he has plenty of forage to keep him amused and also provide an essential source of fibre, which helps to keep his digestive system working efficiently. Hang this in easy reach just below his nose.
Good working order
Making sure your lorry or trailer is in good working order is key to reducing the risk of accidents or breakdowns. Before you set off, check your tyre pressure, headlights and indicator bulbs. Breakdown cover is essential, but make sure that your policy covers removing livestock from the scene. Store the details in your lorry cab or towing vehicle, along with other essentials, such as a torch, first aid kit, high-vis tabard, phone charger and battery booster pack.