Whether you are hauling many miles or just around the corner, to a ride or to the vet, there are many precautions you should take to make sure your horse will be safe while traveling! The first step for trailer safety is to take the time to train your horse how to load and unload calmly. Do this when you have plenty of time. This is especially important when you may need your horse to load in an emergency situation where time is of the essence!
Always remember to drive carefully as the ride inside the truck is always smoother than that in the trailer. Maybe have someone take you for a ride in the trailer so you can experience the bumps in the road for yourself! This awareness will make hauling more comfortable for your horse. Keep screens/grates closed at all times while you’re in motion to protect your horse’s eyes and head.
Before each trip, check your truck’s hitch, tires, lights, and brakes! Also check your trailer’s tires and lights to be sure everything is in working order before you load your horse. Here in Arizona tires don’t need to get a lot of miles on them to go bad, sun rot is common in parked trailers. Tire covers are helpful but still be sure and check tires for cracks prior to each use. Check the trailer brake setting by going about 25 miles an hour on a flat road and using only the trailer brake to stop the trailer. It should slowly and smoothly come to a stop. Most importantly give extra stopping distance between you and the vehicle in front of you, particularly when going downhill.
Bedding pellets or dust-free shavings are helpful for soaking up urine which improves traction and makes it easier to keep clean. Also, consider coating the trailer floor with something like Polylast slip resistant protective cushioned coating.
Bell boots help protect horses feet in case they scramble in the trailer due to sudden stop, bumps, or spooking. Shipping boots can give support to the legs during long transport as well as protection from self-trauma. If your horse has never had leg wraps or bell boots on, it’s a good idea to acclimate your horse to these prior to hauling.
On long trips, offer water every few hours or consider installing a gravity feed watering system if planning on hauling long distances on a regular basis. You may consider giving your horse electrolytes or extra salt for a couple days before your departure to encourage hydration while hauling. Feeding soupy hay pellets during travel is helpful to know that your horse is getting moisture and fiber in the gut during travel. Provide hay for the trip in a net or manger to help normalize your horse’s digestive tract. Some horses benefit from preventative ulcer medication before and during travel to reduce the effects of stress it may cause. Just remember it takes 48-72 hours for GastroGard and UlcerGard to take affect. Ranitidine and Sucralfate have more immediate affects but are given 3 times a day. Pro-Bi is another great preventive for the GI tract during stress as well as green clay orally.