There is nothing like planning a summer road trip with friends. Sometimes this means getting snacks from the gas station, creating a fun playlist, and getting your closest buddies to tag along for an unforgettable adventure. Sometimes it means trying to safely trailer your horse to a show. This show may be an hour away or it may be eight hours away. Keep reading to learn how to keep your equine road trip partner(s) cool and comfortable while roadtripping during the summer months.
Know exactly where you’re going, and plan the coolest, most efficient route to get there. If you’re planning to stay somewhere overnight, be sure you have current directions on how to get there so you aren’t driving around lost. Getting stuck or lost on the way to your destination means extra time in the trailer for your horse—and the less time he spends in the trailer the better, especially when it’s hot.
If you are crossing state lines you will be required to have a health certificate for every horse you are transporting. You will also need a current coggins. Don’t wait until the day before you leave to get these things together as coggins can sometimes take up to a week to get back! Check with the department of agriculture for the state you are hauling to and make sure there is nothing special required to travel there.
It is always a smart idea to start your journey in the early hours of the morning when the sun isn’t out and the weather is comfortable. Depending on your destination, try to plan your travel schedule so you’ll be hauling through the hottest areas when it’s cool, and resting, (horses safely unloaded), when it’s hot.
Resist the temptation to wrap your horse in anything before you load up. Remove any blankets, coolers, and even “anti-sweat” sheets that you may usually travel with. The more of his skin that’s exposed to the air, the cooler he’ll be.
Open every possible vent and trailer window (those with bars or screens) to maximize ventilation. Air movement is necessary for your horse to cool through convection. By allowing the wet, hot air within the trailer to be exchanged with the cooler air outside, you’ll help your horse remain comfortable and cool.
To help keep him well hydrated on his trip, help him increase his hydration on the days leading up to it. Soak his hay, make his food into a mash by adding water, and make sure he has lots of fresh water available whether he is in the field or in his stall. If he doesn’t usually drink a lot of water, try to give him some electrolytes (see below) in his feed.
Your horse loses electrolytes when he sweats, and his electrolyte balance is important for his fluid balance and bodily functions. If you don’t administer electrolytes on a regular basis, consider adding them to your horse’s feed or water beginning five to seven days before you hit the road. If you add electrolytes to his water, make sure to provide fresh, non-electrolyte water as well, because many horses refuse to drink electrolyte water.
Nothing is more stressful than an overheated horse that won’t drink. If your horse is a fussy drinker, he might refuse to drink “funny tasting” water on the road that he isn’t used to. SOLUTION- bring plenty of familiar water from home. You also can consider adding a small amount of flavoring (such packaged lemonade) to his at-home water source for several weeks before you leave and use it once you’re on the road. This will allow you to mask unfamiliar flavors and might encourage him to drink.
If you’re going to provide hay while on the road, consider soaking it to provide extra moisture. Not only will this help keep your horse hydrated, but it’ll also minimize dust and help protect him against irritation to his respiratory tract that can threaten his health when hauling. If he won’t eat hay, giving him a meal of mash twice a day or ration of soaked beet pulp could also help.
Have you caught the equine road tripping bug? Give us a call to go over everything you will need to legally get across state lines with your horse. If you’re on the road and experience an issue with your horse, call us at 336-349-4080 to go over it and find a solution! We have an emergency vet on call 24/7 to give you peace of mind!