Have horse, will travel. As a horse owner, you’ll need to transport your horse for a variety of reasons, including for veterinary care, competition, trail riding, re-locating and many more.
Let’s face it, transporting horses can be stressful for both you and your horse. During a trip of any length, even the most seasoned equine traveller may become stressed and injure themselves or fall ill. Dehydration is also very common.
Long-haul trips are especially risky to your horse’s health and overall wellbeing if steps to monitor their condition and provide care on the road aren’t taken. During hot and humid weather, the risks of injury and illness only go up.
In this article, we share 15 tips for transporting horses in hot weather to ensure they arrive safely and in good health at their destination.
The Risks of Transporting Horses
Transport-related colic and respiratory problems are two of the most common illnesses associated with transporting horses and can become severe, even life-threatening.
Research suggests that transportation, particularly over long distances and in hot weather, aggravates pre-existing respiratory diseases. Transport-related pneumonia, also known as pleuropneumonia, travel sickness or shipping sickness, is the main one to watch out for.
15 Tips for Transporting Horses
Before You Depart
- 1.Train your horse to self-load and stand quietly, so all trips start with minimum stress.
- 2.Check your horse’s vital signs regularly and record any changes during the journey.
- 3.Ensure your lorry or trailer provides enough room for your horse to lower their head.
- 4.Conduct a safety check of your vehicle and lorry before departing, including engine, tyres and lorry floor, making sure there are no hazards or signs of damage.
- 5.Provide plenty of fresh water and quality pre-soaked hay on board for your horse.
- 1.Depart and travel during the coolest parts of the day.
- 2.Plan your trip and know your route, factoring in rest stops every few hours to give your horse the opportunity to unload safely and graze, preferably in the shade.
- 3.Encourage your horse to lower their head during the journey by placing dampened hay low down or on the floor if safe to do so.
- 4.Maximise ventilation for your horse by opening up all side vents and windows.
- 5.Avoid over-blanketing your horse. If your horse requires any blankets or bandages during travel, check under them regularly for signs of over-heating.
When You Arrive
- 1.Check your horse’s vital signs, including their temperature.
- 2.Test your horse’s capillary refill time and pinch their skin to check for dehydration. Monitor them for any respiratory symptoms, such as coughing and nasal discharge.
- 3.If your horse appears to be over-heated, move them into the shade and hose them down. Repeat the wash and scrape method over the back and large muscle groups.
- 4.Carry familiar water and buckets from home. We’ve all experienced a fussy horse that refuses to drink in new environments! You may also need to flavour the water.
- 5.Use the Flexineb E3 to rapidly deliver any medications or natural solutions should your horse be experiencing symptoms of respiratory disease or discomfort.
Horses can lose as much as a pound of bodyweight per hour of travel. Allow at least 24 hours of rest, ideally on pasture, after a long journey. For trips of 15 hours or longer, give your horse a minimum of three days to recover.
Symptoms can take a few days to present, so we recommend monitoring your horse for 5-7 days following a long journey. If you have concerns, consult your veterinarian immediately.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to replace professional veterinary advice. Always consult your veterinarian if your horse as any health-related issue or is exhibiting symptoms.