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Keep Your Horse Safe and Happy in the Trailer

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Trailering can add extra stress for you and your horse. Here are tips that can make the process less stressful for you and your horse, while keeping everyone safer.

  • Use a trailer tie instead of a lead rope. Lead ropes can dangle out of doors and windows and become entangled with disastrous results.

  • Provide hay in a hay bag or net to keep your horse busy during the ride. Remember to tie haynets high so your horse can't get a forefoot through.

  • Water frequently during long trips. Stop in a quiet area and offer your horse water to prevent dehydration, especially during hot weather.

  • Give your horse a break during long trips. Horse are constantly using their muscles to balance in the trailer. If you are hauling more than 2 hours one way, consider making stops at safe quiet areas, so horses can relax and stretch. Remember to 'stoop and scoop' manure before you leave. Picnic areas, parks and other green spaces can be used.

  • Give your horse time to recover after long trips before riding or driving. Standing in a trailer can be quite tiring for a horse. Make sure it has time to rest before being asked to work.

  • Provide safe footing. Wood and metal floors can be slippery, especially when wet. Some metal floors are very abrasive on hooves. Consider putting down rubber matting that is non-slip and provides some shock absorption.

  • Secure loose items. Don't leave buckets, hay bales, or other equipment loose in the front of the trailer where they could slide under the horse's feet.

  • Put the largest horse on the road side. Roads are made higher in the middle so moisture runs off easier. The trailer will be more balanced with a single or heavier horse on the higher (driver's) side.

  • Practice Hauling before heading out with a horse in the trailer. I spent about four hours driving with the trailer before attempting to add the horse. Practice smooth stops, turns and accelerations. Go slower than you normally would around bends and turns. Remember, your horse has to keep its balance standing up on a moving trailer! 

  • Look after the driver. Hauling horses can be stressful. Take breaks, stay hydrated, and avoid driving while overtired. Of course never drink alcohol and drive any vehicle hitched to a trailer or not.

  • Don't tie too high or low. Your horse should be able to move its head up and down naturally. If you tie too low, your horse will be unable to move its head to balance. Tie too low and they could put a foreleg over the tie.

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