Ready for that first glorious horse trip of summer? Check out our tips for safe travels first!

By Allison Armstrong Rehnborg

There’s no greater feeling of freedom than loading your horses into the trailer and taking off for the weekend. Whether you’re show-bound or trail-bound, trailering your horses requires a lot of prep and forethought to ensure everyone’s safety and well-being. With glorious summer weather on the horizon, it’s time to refresh your trailering knowledge with our top ten tips for safe travel with your horses!

Perform regular trailer inspections.

Whether you’ve got a little two-horse bumper pull or a six-horse gooseneck with living quarters, regular trailer inspections from top to bottom and inside and outside are crucial. Inspect your horse quarters for stray nails, loose feeders and broken or loose windows. If you use mats, pull up the mats during every inspection to check the condition of your trailer floors. Check the plumbing, electricity and other key elements in your living quarter trailers. Get your trailer tires and hitch apparatus inspected by a professional at least once or twice a year and pack a spare tire and tire-changing equipment in case of an emergency. 

Pack smart.

Keep dedicated first aid kits for horses and humans in your trailer and your truck, and pack spares of everything in case of a roadside emergency. Pack plenty of hay, grain and emergency water for your horses, especially if you’re heading out for several days. Before every trip, make sure you’ve still got spare halters, lead ropes, muck buckets, water buckets, manure forks, water hoses and other items in stock. If you like to keep medications, liniments, shampoos and salves in your trailer tack room, check your inventory before every trip – and order replacements as needed! (Psst: You can order all your favorite Draw It Out travel necessities online, including liniment, shampoo, and Super Clean Stall Cleaner, here)

Make sure your animals are healthy before you go.

If you’re crossing state lines or attending a large show, health certificates and proof of a recent negative Coggins test may be required. Schedule a veterinary appointment for your horses before your trip to take care of all the necessary paperwork. Even if you don’t need the certificates and already have a negative Coggins test for the year, it’s still a good idea to get your vet out and ensure everyone is healthy before the trip. If your horses require vaccinations, schedule the appropriate vaccines far enough in advance of your trip to ensure your horse’s immune system is fully powered up before departure day. If you’re not sure about the timing, check with your vet.

Never haul alone.

If you’re driving a long distance with your horses – say, ten or twelve hours or more – make sure you’re taking a friend along with you who is also experienced in hauling horses and driving a trailer. If you must haul alone, plan stops where you can rest, stretch and snack, and stay in contact with a friend or family member by phone so everyone knows where you are at all times. The same is true for your horses: horses travel better with friends, so haul in pairs if possible. 

Plan adequate rest stops.

Trailering takes a physical toll on a horse. Think about it: while the trailer is in motion, your horse’s muscles are in a constant game of tension and release in order to help maintain balance. For very long trailer trips, plan to break up the trip by overnighting at a horse hotel or at a friend’s barn. For day-long trips, stop every two to three hours at a horse-safe location to unload and let the horses stretch their limbs.

Keep your papers in order.

You may need to keep track of health certificates, Coggins, registration papers and any number of papers for each horse you’re hauling, so create a large binder that stays in your truck cab to help you organize things. Then create a duplicate binder to stash in your trailer so that you’ve always got a backup. It’s also a great idea to take photos of every document and save them to your phone so you have electronic copies.

Practice good biosecurity.

If you’re hauling to a show, pack plenty of Draw It Out SuperClean Stall Cleaner so that you can clean and disinfect your show stalls before you unload. Don’t share equipment with friends or strangers at the barn, and make sure every horse has his or her own water bucket and feed bucket for use at the show. Carry your own water hoses with you. When filling buckets, don’t let the business end of the hose touch the inside of the water buckets because you can transmit germs that way.

Update your emergency contacts before each trip.

Keep paper copies of your emergency contact numbers in your truck and trailer as well as in your phone. You never know when your cell phone might die, and in this day and age, few people memorize phone numbers the way they used to. Keeping paper copies of every important phone number on hand can help you if you have to borrow someone else’s phone. 

Feed and water your horses on the trip. 

Keep hay in front of your horses during the trip and be sure to offer them clean, fresh water at every rest stop. When tying your horses, allow them enough slack so that they can raise and lower their heads as needed to clear their respiratory tracts and help themselves balance.

Install a trailer camera.

Many horse owners use a remote camera in the trailer so they can keep an eye on their horses from their truck cab. This can be a great way to assuage your own anxiety about hauling your horses.

If all this talk of trailering horses has you itching to take your horses on another big adventure, then start packing. But before you go, if you have your own tips and hacks for safe trailering, share them with us via social media. And if you’re running low on your favorite Draw It Out products, make sure you know exactly where to go to stock up. Happy trails and safe travels!

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