Take steps to travel safely with your equines

As responsible animal caretakers we can make many decisions that ease and hopefully eliminate stress on our animals during the transportation process.

With spring right around the corner, many of us will be loading our horses into trailers and heading to practices, shows, trail rides and more. Traveling, even to the most seasoned show horse, can be a stressful event – just as it is for us. As responsible animal caretakers, we can make many decisions that ease and eliminate stress on our animals during the transportation process. Below are just a few tips to keep in mind as you head to your next event:

Keep safety first

Each time you hook up your truck and trailer to head to a show, go through a safety checklist. Are truck and trailer lights working? Did you secure the hitch properly? Are all tire pressures appropriate? Make sure that you have the proper-sized truck to haul your trailer. Do not overload your trailer’s weight capacity. While driving, you must allow extra distance for stopping. Make speed changes and turns more gradually than you would when driving without a loaded trailer. Ignoring these basic guidelines can seriously impact you and your horse’s safety.

Keep it cool

Heat can build up quickly in a horse trailer. If the weather is warm, be sure to open vents and windows to encourage airflow to the horses. Avoid unloading horses before you reach your destination since rest areas and fuel stations are not safe areas to unload. If traveling long distances, stop at least every two to three hours to offer water and check horses.

Keep it quick

No, this doesn’t mean you can ignore speed limits signs and other traffic laws. It just means to make your best attempt at limiting the amount of time your horse stays in the trailer. Load all tack, equipment and feed first. Animals should be on the trailer for the minimal amount of time possible to avoid injury and stress, especially due to heat.

Keep learning more

There are many online resources regarding ensuring horse safety.

  • The Horse publishes articles relating to horse safety and care.
  • Michigan State University (MSU) eXtension also offers many resources for horse health and safety.
  • MSU Extension has established a set of guidelines providing tips on animal safety and welfare.

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