Category Archives: Horse Hauling

How to Buy a Horse Trailer

By: Chris Robertson

Whether you own one horse or several, a horse trailer will provide a convenient way to travel with your horses to shows, rodeos, camping sites, horse trails, or wherever you need to take your horses. Horse trailers are also useful in case of an emergency if you have to evacuate your horses or get them to a veterinarian in a hurry. But buying a horse trailer can be a little confusing because there are so many different types and styles available. Here are some things to look for when shopping for a horse trailer.

Stall Details

Probably the most important features that will determine how well your horse travels are the features of the stalls. How many stalls are included? What size are the stalls (length, height, and width)? If your horse’s ears are touching the ceiling of the trailer, it is probably too short. Also, be sure the horse will have room to turn around for exiting. Some horses can be very difficult when it comes to backing them out of a trailer stall.

Be sure there’s plenty of ventilation for each stall. Horse trailers usually have from two to nine stalls. It’s a good idea to get a horse trailer with one extra stall than what you actually need. This will provide more room for your horses and also allows you to add another horse in the future.

Trailer Entrance: Step Up or Ramp

Horses are like people in some ways… they seem to have their own preferences when it comes to horse trailers. They especially have their own preferences when it comes to stepping up into a trailer and/or walking up a ramp into the trailer. This makes choosing a horse trailer difficult because you might not be sure which method of loading your horse would feel more comfortable with. Before you start shopping, find a couple of friends with horse trailers of different styles and ask if you can do a test load with your horse. You might be able to find out ahead of time what type of trailer will work best for your horse.

Slant Load or Straight Load

Another thing to consider is if you will buy a slant load or straight load horse trailer. The slant load trailer has stalls that are slanted diagonally from right to left. The horses stand in a slanted position while riding. These are usually economical for carrying more than two horses. A straight load trailer enables you to load the horses straight into the trailer from the rear and the horses face forward while riding. With both styles, choose a horse trailer that is the correct size, has proper ventilation, and provides the features you need.

Bumper Pull or Gooseneck

Consider whether you want a bumper pull or gooseneck trailer. The bumper pull trailer attaches to a hitch near the rear bumper of your towing vehicle. The gooseneck extends over the bed of the hauling truck and attaches in the truck bed. The main difference is the gooseneck can provide extra room for dressing room or living quarters.

There are other features to consider as well. The trailer might be made of steel or aluminum, or a blend of the two. It might have a tack room in the front of the stall area where you can store saddles, bridles, buckets, feed, and trunks. Some horse trailers come with dressing rooms fancied with a mirror, table, and an area to hang clothes. Some have roomy living quarters featuring a bedroom or two, dining room table, kitchenette, and bathroom. Living quarters are great for frequent campers!

Towing Vehicle

Before buying a horse trailer, consider what type of trailer you will be able to haul with your current truck or vehicle. Some vehicles haul better than others, and some can handle heavier trailers than others.

Consider all these features when shopping for a trailer, and go online to compare horse trailers and brand names such as Sundowner horse trailers. You can search for trailers by brand name or by location and state. For example, if you live in Tennessee, you might search for “horse trailers in Tennessee” or “Sundowner of Tennessee.” You can also find used horse trailers for sale if you’re on a tight budget.

Use these tips to find a horse trailer that you and your horses will enjoy for years to come.

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Chris Robertson is a published author of
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Does Your Horse Need Electrolytes while Traveling?

Drinking HorseThe technical summer season may be dwindling down, but the heat is definitely not.  In many parts of the country, cities and states are still seeing temperatures in the upper 90s and even 100s.  With the heat and humidity, horses being transported for long distances, especially in climates they are not used to are prone to dehydration.

Dehydration results from the excessive loss of fluids and cause horses to have an elevated body temperature, develop colic, have muscle malfunction and even die.  With the fluid loss is also a loss of the essential electrolytes that the body needs, which are very important components in normal body function.

The electrolytes include sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium and magnesium.  They are vital to muscle contraction, nerve transmission and blood fluid balance.  These substances are soluble in water and sweating causes them to be lost.  When a horse sweats and then dries, the white residue that is seen is salt and indicates a loss of electrolytes.

Horses that are transporting through consistently hot weather will need to be watched for sweating and electrolyte loss.  You can test whether or not a horse has become dehydrated by taking your thumb and forefinger of one hand and pinching the loose skin on a horse’s neck.  If the horse is hydrated, the skin snaps back quickly.  If the horse is dehydrated, the skin will stay in the pinch that you made with your fingers or “tented.”  This is an indicator of dehydration and a sign that the horse needs fluids as well as electrolyte supplementation.  However, horses are different and some may develop gastric irritation and ulcers from electrolyte supplementation, so it is important to discuss this with the horse’s owner prior to supplementing it.

There are several ways you can supplement a horse with electrolytes.  Typically we do so without realizing it when we feed a salt or mineral mix to our horses.  Horses will self-supplement if they have a salt or mineral block available to them.  You can make these available to horses in your trailer by installing small salt block holders or placing them in buckets.  If you place them in buckets, be careful not to pour liquid or mashes onto the blocks, as it will cause them to melt.  You can also put electrolytes into a horse’s drinking water.  The drawback to this method is that not all horses will drink the water and those who do drink it may not consume enough of the water to get adequate amounts of electrolytes. Powdered electrolytes can be placed on the horse’s feed. Most horses will consume them readily in this manner, but others may refuse to eat.  Finally, there are oral pastes available and are ideal for those horses who have become stressed or you can’t seem to get electrolytes down them any other way.

Reducing Fuel Costs When Transporting Livestock

Many horse and livestock owners are affected by the rising costs of fuel and the added cost of fuel prices have forced some horse owners to reduce some of their summer activities, like hauling to horse shows and participating in trail rides. However, there are several things that horse owners can do to help maximize their vehicles fuel efficiency. By properly maintaining the tow vehicle and carefully planning ahead, horse owners will still be able to participate in many different horse related activities.

One of the most important aspects of maximizing the fuel efficiency and reducing the costs associated with hauling horses is to properly maintain the vehicle that is used to haul the horses. One of the most important aspects of maintaining the tow vehicle is to keep the engine tuned. Research has shown that a properly tuned engine can result in as much as a four percent increase in fuel efficiency.

Another important maintenance area is to replace the air filter on a regular basis. The air filter is used to remove particles and impurities from the air that enters the engine. By keeping the air filter replaced, horse owners can increase the mileage in their tow vehicle by as much as ten percent.

It is important to allow time for horses to rest when they are being hauled long distances; however owners should not let their tow vehicle idle while the horses are resting. When a tow vehicle is idling, it is getting zero miles to the gallon and as a general rule; larger tow vehicles will waste a great deal of more gasoline than a smaller passenger vehicle.

Horse owners should also use the cruise control on their vehicle as much as possible when hauling their horses and other livestock. This is because the cruise control will maintain a constant speed on the highway, which will result in great fuel efficiency.

Horse owners should also only pack the necessary supplies that they will need when traveling. This means that owners should carefully plan ahead and leave any extra supplies that will not be required at home. The Department of Energy has estimated that even an extra one hundred pounds in the tow vehicle or the trailer can result in a two percent reduction in miles per gallon. This amount will increase even more as the amount of excess weight that is being hauled increases.

Keeping Horses Safe Before, During and After Returning Home from a Trip

As the summer months approach, many horse owners will be hitting the road for some type of equine related activity.  There are several things that owners can do to ensure that their horses remain safe during all aspects of the journey.

One of the most important things that horse owners can do to ensure that their horse remains healthy is to keep them current on all vaccinations and keep them on a regular de-worming program.  It is very important to give vaccines early enough so that they will be able to induce the proper immune response before the trip.  Giving a vaccine just a few days before the journey will not give the vaccine enough time to properly work on the immune system and the horse will still be susceptible to the disease that the vaccine is designed to prevent.

During the trip, it is important to make sure that the horse is comfortable inside the trailer.  Most horse owners will bed the trailer with shavings and give their horse a good supply of hay to eat on the journey.  It is also important to offer the horse water frequently during the trip.

Once you have arrived at the final destination, it is important to carefully inspect the stall or pen in which the horse will be kept.  It is important to look for loose metal, nails and other materials that could possibly harm the horse.  If possible, it is a good idea to sweep the stall and remove any feces that may be on the ground or stuck to the stall panels.  This will keep the horse safe and hopefully prevent the horse from contracting any illnesses that the previous horse might have had.  It is also important to use your own buckets and feed so prevent the spreading of illnesses and to make the horse feel more comfortable.

After returning home from the journey, it is important to keep the horse separated from any other horses on the property for a few days, ideally two weeks.  This will prevent the horses that live on the property from contracting any diseases or illnesses that the traveling horse may have carried home.  It is also a good idea to take the traveling horses temperature twice a day to determine if they are becoming ill because fever is often the first sign of an illness.

Avoiding Tire Troubles on the Road

Horse TrailerPlanning a simple vacation can be a challenging task because there are many things that people will need to do before they leave their homes. Equine lovers that plan their vacations with their horses have many other things to plan for before leaving including preparing the horse for a long trip and ensuring that both the truck and trailer are in pristine condition.

One of the most commonly ignored areas of maintenance is the tires on the trailer. Horse owners do not blatantly choose to ignore this area of the trailer, they usually simply forget because they are more focused on making sure that the horse is comfortable during the trip. Data collected from a roadside assistance agency proves that the main reason why horse owners are forced to pull off the side of the side of the road is due to some sort of issue with their tires. Luckily, there are several things that people can do to lessen the chance of having an accident due to flat tire or blowout.

The first thing that horse owners should do is check the pressure in all of the tires on both the truck and the trailer. This is especially important in cold temperatures because the tire pressure will change as the tire heats up on the road. Tires that are underinflated will have more resistance to the road and will overheat more readily than tires that are properly inflated, which can lead to a blow out. One tire that many horse owners forget to check is the spare.

It is also important to make sure that tires are in good condition and are road worthy. All of the tires should have a good amount of tread and look like they are in very good condition. Tires that are old and rotted are very dangerous because they will not be able to withstand the stress placed on them when on the road and will not only be unsafe; they will affect the performance of both the truck and the trailer.

It is also important to use the correct type of tire on a horse trailer. All horse trailer tires are required to have an adequate load rating to ensure that they are safe for use. It is also important to not use retreaded tires on a horse trailer or the vehicle that will be pulling the trailer.

Things to do to Avoid Stress and Fatigue When Hauling a Horse

rigThis is the time of year when many horse owners will do the most hauling. Some horse owners will travel to some type of horse related competition while other owners will travel many miles to send their broodmares to breeding farms. Whatever the reason for hitting the road, it is important to ensure that every precaution is taken to reduce the amount of stress each horse will suffer.

The first thing that horse owners should consider when hauling their horses is their position in the trailer. Two separate studies have been performed that evaluated a horse’s heart rate and behavior both before and after a trip. What these studies found was that horses that were hauled facing backwards had significantly lower heart rates and were not as fatigued because they were able to rest on their rumps during the trip. On the other hand, horses that were hauled facing forward tend to be more restless and hold their heads higher during the journey, resulting in a horse that is more fatigued at the end of the trip.

Another factor that will determine a horse’s level of stress and fatigue at the end of a long journey is the temperature inside the trailer. While this is usually not a problem in open stock trailers, it can be a serious problem in completely enclosed trailers. This is why it is important to open the windows in enclosed trailers and maintain good quality airflow. Another way to keep a horse cool on a trip is to ensure that the horse has access to clean water several times during the journey. Overheating can have an effect on a horse’s health for several weeks after a journey.

It is also important that horses have a good immune system before they endure a long journey. This will reduce the risk of them contracting an illness during the journey. Owners can help to stimulate the immune system by feeding their horse supplements like vitamin C for several weeks before a trip.

Handlers should also take precautions to ensure that horses do not injure their legs during a journey. Both the front and back legs of a horse should be wrapped in protective bandages so that the horse will avoid injury as they are moving around in the trailer. Bandages should be applies so that the coronary band above the hoof is also protected.

Transporting Mares and Foals

With breeding season just around the corner, many mare owners will be forced to haul their mares to breeding farms with a new foal on their side. While traveling is a stressful experience for any horse, it can be especially stressful for a new baby. This is why a great amount of preparation should be performed before attempting to haul a new foal.

The first thing that people should consider is whether the mare will be traveling with the foal. If the mare will be traveling with the baby, then owners or haulers will need to properly prepare the trailer to ensure that both the mare and baby are safe during the trip. The safest way to haul a mare and baby is to place a partition between the two to ensure that the foal is not accidently hurt by the mare during the trip. If it is possible, an owner may even consider leaving the mare at home so that more attention can be given to the foal at the vet clinic. However, this is something that owners will need to discuss with their veterinarian.

Another thing that owners will need to consider when hauling a foal is the condition of their health. A foal that is sick will have a very difficult time maintaining their body temperature during travel and can become very cold. This is because new foals do not have a great amount of body fat to serve as insulation and being sick will only make it more difficult for the foal to keep warm.

If it is absolutely necessary to transport a sick foal, special considerations will need to be made to ensure that the foal does not get cold during the trip. One way to help a foal stay warm during transportation is to haul them in a trailer that is fully enclosed. This will prevent any cold air from blowing on the foal during the trip. However, this may not be a possible solution for every owner.

In the situation that the foal must be transported in an open stock trailer, the owner should use a foal sized blanket to preserve as much body heat as possible. However, a great amount of heat can be lost through the legs. One way to prevent this type of heat loss is to wrap the legs. A foal should be constantly supervised any time leg wraps are used to prevent the foal from injuring itself.

Keeping Your Horse Comfortable on the Road

When you are hauling a horse a long distance, it is very important to make sure that you thoroughly check both the vehicle and the trailer before you ever load your horse to ensure that they are both in good condition and safe for the long ride. Once you have done all of the necessary checks, it is time to think about what your horse will need to stay safe and comfortable on the long trip. One last thing that you will need to get before you leave for your trip is a copy of the horse’s registration papers, health certificate, negative coggins, and transport papers if your state requires them. Once you have all of the paperwork in order, it will be time to prepare your horse for the long trip.

The first thing that you should do is allow them to eat normally before you load them into the trailer. They should also have free access to all of the clean water that they will drink. If you are going on a long road trip, you could hang a hay net or bag full of hay for the horses to nibble on during the trip, however, it is very important to make sure that you hang the bag or net high enough so that it will not get tangled around their legs during travel. You should also take water with you that the horse is used to. Some horses will not drink water that smells or tastes different.

Once you have the hay net properly secured, it is time to load the horses. If your trailer has individual stalls, it is safest to tie each horse in their stall using a quick release knot. When you are tying the knot, you will want to make sure that the rope is loose enough for the horse to touch the butt bar or door behind them. This will prevent them from pulling back on the rope during travel.

Once the horses are loaded, you should leave as quickly as possible and remember to start out slowly so that the horses will be able to adjust to riding in the trailer. When you stop for fuel or to eat, offer the horses water, even though most of the time they probably will not drink. You should also plan to stop once or twice to eat a leisurely meal. This will give the horses a chance to rest.

If you take care to ensure that your horses are comfortable during their ride, you will arrive at your destination with horses that are in wonderful condition.

Safely Loading a Horse

If you have ever been around horses, you have probably seen some very interesting trailer loading scenes. You may have seen people try to bribe their horses with food or you may have seen the two person method where one person pulls on the lead rope while the other person pushes on the rear of the horse. You may also have seen the three person method where two people use a rope at the rear of the horse as a sling while the person inside the trailer tries to pull them in. None of these methods are very effective, and none of them are safe. The only way to get a horse to load well is to practice loading with them.

There are several simple steps that you can follow to teach your horse to load properly. This will ensure that you do not have any of those “trailer loading scenes” and that both you and your horse will be safe.

Step 1 – Show your horse the trailer, open the doors and make sure that everything is safe. It is important to allow your horse to look around so that he will be able to see that he is safe. Once your horse is calm, proceed to step two.

Step 2 – Longe your horse at a walk toward the door of the trailer. You should have your horse stop, back up, and change directions. This will allow him to see the trailer from different views. Once your horse is calm with this exercise, reward him and move on to step three.

Step 3 – With the door open, drive your horse toward the door of the trailer and ask them to stop. You should them drive them by the door and around in a circle and ask them to stop again. You should again reward your horse if they are remaining calm and once they are comfortable with this exercise, move on to step four.

Step 4 – With the door open, drive your horse into the trailer. It is okay if the horse stops and does not go into the trailer. Just be patient and continue to drive them toward the open door and once they are inside, ask them to stand quietly and reward them for doing so. Next you should ask your horse to back out of the trailer. It is important to not let them turn around and come out head first because this is very dangerous. Once your horse has mastered this process, move onto step five.

Step 5 – Now you can begin to ask your horse to stand for long time intervals. The goal is to work up to thirty seconds in five second intervals. Once your horse will do this calmly, they will be ready for their first short ride in the trailer.

Keeping Your Horse Safe in the Trailer

If you are a horse owner or horse transporter, then you know that every horse needs to be transported at some point in its life. You could have a show horse that is routinely hauled to shows or you may only use your trailer to take your horse to the vet for regular checkups. It does not matter what the circumstances are, you always want to make sure that the horse is safe while they are in the trailer. There are many simple things that you can do to ensure that both you and the horse are safe during loading, travel, and unloading.

• If it is possible, use two people to load the horse.

• Never stand directly behind the horse when loading or unloading.

• Train the horse so that it can be sent into the trailer by itself.

• Make sure that the ground around and behind the trailer has good footing before loading or unloading a horse.

• Remove all equipment (saddles, bridles, etc.) before loading. The only thing that should be on the horse is its halter.

• Always speak to a horse that is in a trailer before attempting to handle it. You want to make sure that your horse knows you are there; this will keep him from becoming startled.

• If you are having trouble either loading or unloading a horse, seek professional help.

• Always secure the butt bar or chain before tying the horse. Make sure that you use care when reaching for it to avoid being kicked and always gently let it down when you unfasten it so that you do not accidentally bump the horse’s legs.

• When you are unloading a horse, always untie the horse before you open the door.

• Use some type of bedding or matting in the trailer floor. This will keep the floor from getting slick and prevent the horse from falling.

• Always check the trailer regularly for rotten or weakened floorboards, weakened door hinges, broken hitch welds, and worn or broken wheel bearings and spring shackles.

• Make sure that your trailer meets all state requirements for brakes and lights.

• When driving, double check all connections like lights, brakes, and safety chains and always drive in a defensive manner.

• If you are only hauling a single horse, it is safest to load it on the left side of the trailer.

• You should always check on the horses and the trailer hitch at every stop.

If you are careful and observant, you will ensure that both you and the horse are safe no matter how far you have to travel.