This 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.