Top Tips for Transporting Horses Safely
In the good old days, horses were put to work transportinghumans, either by pulling a carriage or astride their backs. Now, of course,the reverse is true; we happily load up our horses into trailers or lorries andtransport them many miles for our pleasure. That’sprogress for you!
Yet transporting horses is not without its pitfalls. Notonly can it be stressful (for both you and your horse), but it also has thepotential to create health issues. However, with due care and attention, youcan move your horse on wheels without any potential issues. Let’s take a look at some top tips fortravelling your horse safely.
Whatever vehicle you are travelling in, you need to make afew safety checks before setting off.
Your vehicle should of course be roadworthy, but it is worthcompleting a few ritual checks before setting off. These include tyre pressure,and oil and water levels as standard. Check also windscreen wash, and lights,the latter being particularly important if towing a trailer.
If the vehicle has been standing a while (which can happenwith horse transport, you need to pay attention to your brakes, as they canstick. If you have somewhere flat and safe to store your trailer, it may bebest to put chucks under the wheels and leave the handbrake off, to preventjamming. However, seek advice first as you don’t wantyour trailer slowly rolling away! If in doubt, leave handbrake on whenstationary and deal with stuck brakes if it happens.
If this does happen, it is best to have the brakes servicedby a specialist, although they will usually free quite quickly if you slowlypull away. However, you should never take any chances with your brakes, and thebest advice is to stop and seek expert guidance. Always have emergency rescuein place in case of a problem when travelling.
It’scrucial the flooring is in good condition and needs to be checked regularly.Pull mats out and do a thorough check and have a look underneath the vehiclefrom time to time. You can ask your mechanic to check when he/she services it.Metal floors are strong and long lasting but keep an eye out for any rustspots. Treated wood floors can last for years as well, as long as they areregularly maintained and monitored.
Check all the fittings and internal lights, making surethere are no sharp edges. The ramp needs to be kept in good condition, so oilthe springs, hinges and fastenings regularly, and check the floor of the ramphas not rotted.
Always muck your horse area out every time you use it. Brushit out completely and if your horse is the only horse using it, you shouldstill disinfect it once a month to keep it fresh. If you share the vehicle withother horses, or if you have hired a horse box, there is always the risk ofcross-contamination, so it is important to disinfectit with a quality product every journey. If borrowing or hiring a vehicle,don’t assume it has been cleaned;disinfect it yourself, paying attention to the walls as well.
Now your vehicle is ready, it’s timeto load up. To make sure the journey is a stress-free as possible, follow thesesimple rules:
- 1. Always carry your horse’s passport with you when travelling, as it is a legalrequirement
- 2. Make sure your horse has plenty of ventilationby opening windows and leaving back flaps of trailer open. However, don’t travel with front flap open (if youhave front unload), as it is dangerous
- 3. Protect your horse’s legsand tail with travelling equipment
- 4. Avoid over-dressing your horse – horses cope with cold better than usand find it more difficult to deal with heat. Use light rugs only, or aThermatex. During summer, you may not need a rug at all
- 5. Give the horse a hay net when travelling – it will settle him and give himsomething to focus on
- 6. Have water on board in case you need to stop
- 7. On long journeys, stop every few hours and giveyour horse a stretch off the vehicle and offer him a little water
- 8. Drive carefully – beaware of your horse and do not make sudden turns or brake hard if you can helpit. Keeping the journey smooth goes a long way to preventing a stressed andsweaty horse at the end of the journey
If introduced to the joys of travelling carefully, mosthorses are happy to be transported, and seem to cope with the noises andexperiences the journey throws at them. And if the end result is a good blowout along the beach, you will both be longing to get back in the box! Drivesafely!