|Reduce Your Horse’s Travel Stress|
You have all your papers in order, have made sure your horse is up to date on recommended vaccinations and is in great physical condition. Now you need to make sure your horse and you are prepared.
Remember it is tiring for your horse to balance as you accelerate, decelerate, stop, and turn so, it’s vital to let them rest every four hours. However, unloading your horses at rest stops or on the side of the highway is particularly unsafe so finding a safe place to do so is imperative.
By contacting other horse owners via Horse Nannies International, you should be able to find safe, short term or long stop off points on the way.
If you do need to stop on the side of a road, be sure to drop down windows and open doors to increase air flow in the trailer. Also monitor your horse for any signs of stress.
As a matter of course, during travel, you need to check vital signs at least twice daily. A resting horse’s body temperature should be between 98 and 101 degrees, their pulse between 36 and 44 beats per minute, and their respiratory rate between 8 and 20 breathes per minute. Monitoring hydration levels is essential too. Check their hydration level by looking at their gums which should be a pale pink and by checking skin tenting.
To perform skin tenting squeeze the skin on the neck or shoulder. In a well hydrated horse the skin will bounce back readily. If your horse is dehydrated you will need to take a prolonged break. Giving electrolytes and flavored water before, during, and a couple days after your trip should help prevent hydration problems.
If you have an enclosed trailer the use of bedding to decrease the stress on their joints can be helpful. However, it is not a good idea in an open stock trailer as the wind can stir up dust causing respiratory and/or ocular issues. One way of preventing debris from causing eye irritation is the use of a fly mask.
It is especially essential during travel that your horse can lower its heads enough to clear their lungs and sinuses but not so low that they can become tangled in the rope. Also regularly clean the trailer out as ammonia build-up due to urine is bad for their lungs.
As a final word, before embarking on your trip be sure your horses can safely and quickly load and unload in a variety of situations. Happy travelling and be sure, if you haven’t already, to join Horse Nannies International (it’s free!) and make use of all the website has to offer.
Christy lives in Arkansas and has a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science with an Equine Science minor. She has owned horses and worked in the horse industry most of her adult life and loves training horses, some of which have gone on to win barrels and poles at the Arkansas State Horse Show. Christy says she can’t imagine a life without horses. She also writes a blog for an Instagram account: @eqstyletheory