When you really stop and think about it, the fact that 1200 pound prey animals willingly step inside a trailer and allow us to transport them from one place to another is really pretty amazing.
It says a lot about how much our horses trust us—because for them, riding in a trailer is not normal. In fact, studies have shown that transport is a substantial source of stress for horses. But with that said, here are a few ways you can make trailer rides a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved:
Feed hay. Not only will this provide a distraction for nervous haulers, but it will also keep the digestive system moving, reducing the chance of ulcers and colic. If you’re worried about dust particles blowing around, simply wet down the hay beforehand.
Use shipping boots or wraps, but ONLY if your horse is accustomed to them. Leg protection is important during transport, but you don’t want to add to your horse’s stress levels if they aren’t used to wearing them. By allowing your horse to wear wraps or boots in the stall or while being led around, you can assess his level of comfort with them.
Use fly masks. This is especially important if you have open windows where debris, bugs, or dust could possibly get in your horse’s eyes. But fly mask or not, you never want your horse hanging his head completely out of a window, so invest in a screen of some type.
Give your horse as much freedom of head movement as possible. Studies have also shown that forcing horses to stand with their heads tied for long periods can be stressful. Make sure your horse can still lower their head or consider not tying at all.
Ensure good footing. Whether it’s a sturdy rubber mat, shavings, or both, make sure your horse has some type of shock absorption and softer footing to reduce slipping. Padded hoof boots can work as well but as with shipping boots, make sure your horse is accustomed to them outside the trailer first.
These are just a few horse transport tips, but feel free to share any others you may have in the comments section below!
Casie Bazay is a freelance and young adult writer, as well as an owner/barefoot trimmer and certified equine acupressure practitioner. She hosts the blog, The Naturally Healthy Horse, where she regularly shares information on barefoot, equine nutrition, and holistic horse health. Once an avid barrel racer, Casie now enjoys just giving back to the horses who have given her so much. Follow Casie at www.casiebazay.com.