A truck pulling a horse trailer with four horses sticking their heads out of the windows

Traveling with Horses: 11 Long-Distance Trailering & Travel Tips

Long-distance travel with your horse can be challenging. Whether heading to a competition, moving to a new location, or embarking on an adventure, careful planning and preparation are key to ensuring a safe and comfortable trip for you and your horse. In this blog, we’ll explore essential tips, considerations, and practical advice to help you navigate the intricacies of traveling long distances with your horse, from health and safety precautions to logistical planning and everything in between. 

11 travel tips and necessities when traveling with horses

Traveling with horses requires prepping in advance to ensure the safety and well-being of your horses. Here’s a list of essential items you’ll need, as well as tips and considerations for a long-distance journey with your horse.

1. Use the right horse trailer

The most important thing you’ll need is a suitable mode of transportation to transport your horses from one location to another safely–in this case, a horse trailer. The horse trailer size and style needed will depend on how many horses you have and your towing vehicle. Ensure your horses are safely secured within the trailer or transport vehicle with appropriate restraints to prevent injury or accidents during transit.

Learn more: How to Choose the Right Style and Size Horse Trailer

2. Pack proper tack and equipment

Whether moving your horses to a new permanent location or traveling to a show, you’ll need your horses’ tack and equipment. This includes saddles, bridles, halters, lead ropes, and other equipment for riding or handling your horses. You may also want to use protective boots or wraps for your horses’ legs to prevent injuries during transportation.

Also, consider the weather conditions at your destination and bring appropriate gear, like blankets or fly masks, to protect the horses from extreme temperatures, rain, or insects.

3. Provide access to feed and water

Preparing feed and water is vital when traveling long distances with horses. You should maintain your horses’ regular feeding schedule as much as possible. A hay net stocked with fresh hay in the trailer will keep your horses fed throughout the journey. Even if your commute is relatively short, plan for hydration stops since horses should not go more than a few hours without water. 

Learn more: Horse Hydration 101: How Much Water Should Your Horse Drink in a Day

4. Use bedding

Standing on a hard surface for hours can be challenging for anyone, horses included. Consider adding bedding for the trailer to keep your horses comfortable during the journey. Bedding can also absorb urine and keep the trailer sanitary. If you use bedding prone to dust, you may also want to add a fly mask to avoid respiratory issues. 

5. Carry health documents and identification

Make sure your horse is healthy enough to travel and that you have all necessary health documents, including Coggins tests, health certificates, and vaccination records when traveling, especially if crossing state or international borders. Carry proper identification for each horse, such as microchips, ID tags, or markings on the horse’s body, to facilitate identification in case of separation or emergency.

6. Bring grooming supplies

If you’re traveling for a show or competition, you want to make sure your horse looks its best after the journey. Bring brushes, combs, hoof picks, and other grooming supplies that will help freshen your horse up after traveling. Stay ready no matter what with a travel grooming kit.

7. Pack emergency supplies

Don’t forget to pack a well-stocked first aid kit specifically designed for horses, including wound dressings, antiseptic solutions, bandages, and medications. Carry extra supplies such as extra water, hay, and emergency repair materials for the trailer or vehicle in case of unexpected delays or breakdowns. Stay prepared for anything by keeping a list of emergency contact numbers for veterinarians, farriers, and other relevant authorities along the route.

8. Provide proper ventilation

Proper ventilation is essential to prevent overheating and respiratory issues during transportation. Ensure that the trailer or transport vehicle has adequate airflow, and consider using fans or opening windows if necessary. This is incredibly important in hot and humid weather

Frequent breaks can help horses clear their respiratory passages from dust and debris. Low-dust or shavings bedding is also essential, especially for horses prone to respiratory problems.

Learn more: How to Keep Your Horse Cool in a Trailer

9. Keep an eye out for shipping fever

Shipping fever, or transport stress pneumonia or shipping pneumonia, is a respiratory condition affecting horses during or shortly after transportation. It typically occurs when horses are subjected to the stress of long-distance travel, especially in poorly ventilated trailers or under other conditions that compromise their respiratory health.

Preventing shipping fever involves minimizing stress and maintaining optimal conditions for the horse during transportation. Ensure proper ventilation within the trailer, Provide ample bedding, offer frequent rest breaks, and closely monitor the horse’s condition throughout the journey. Additionally, vaccinating horses against common respiratory pathogens and practicing good biosecurity measures can help reduce the risk of shipping fever.

Learn more: 17 Signs and Symptoms of a Sick Horse

10. Plan your route in advance

Plan your route carefully to ensure you have suitable places to stop for breaks along the way. When planning your travel route, it’s a good idea to identify potential stopping points in advance and have backup options in case your original plans need to change. Prioritize locations that offer safe, accessible parking and amenities that meet your and your horses’ needs.

11. Allow adequate recovery time

Once you’ve reached your destination, give your horses plenty of time to recover from extensive time on the road. Allow them to stretch their legs and move freely, if possible. Monitor them for any changes to their behavior or food intake, and call a veterinarian if they refuse to feed or have an elevated temperature.

How long can a horse stand in a trailer?

Ideally, horses should not exceed six to nine hours in a trailer without a break, depending on how much food and water you provide them. During long journeys, take breaks every four to six to check on your horses or let them rest and rehydrate. Breaks allow horses to relieve themselves, adjust their posture, and alleviate discomfort from prolonged standing. If traveling more than 12 hours, consider stabling your horse overnight to prevent fatigue and illness.

While horses spend most of their lives on their feet, don’t expect your horse to power through a 12-hour ride without breaks. The length of time a horse can stand in a trailer depends on several factors, including the individual horse’s temperament, health, comfort level, conditions inside the trailer, and the overall duration of the journey. 

It’s essential to monitor your horses closely during transit, paying attention to their behavior, body language, and overall well-being. Signs of stress or discomfort, such as pawing, sweating, restlessness, or excessive vocalization, may indicate that the horse needs a break or that you need to adjust their travel conditions.

Places to stop when traveling with horses

Plan your travel route ahead of time and map out any potential break areas where you can stop and tend to your horses. Here are some options for places to stop when traveling with horses.

Rest areas

Many highways and major roads have designated rest areas with restrooms, picnic areas, and ample parking spaces. These areas can provide a safe and convenient place to take breaks with your horses.

Truck stops

Truck stops often have ample parking space for trailers and provide fuel, food, water, and restroom facilities. While not specifically designed for horses, they can be suitable for short breaks during long journeys.

Equestrian facilities

Look for equestrian facilities or horse-friendly rest stops along your route that specifically offer hitching posts, watering stations, and even overnight stabling or turnout areas for horses if traveling long distances.

Public parks

Some public parks or recreational areas allow horse trailers and offer trails or open spaces where horses can stretch their legs and graze during breaks. Check for any restrictions or regulations before stopping at a public park.

Fairgrounds or event centers

Fairgrounds and event centers with horse facilities may allow travelers to use their grounds for rest stops. These venues often have large parking areas, water sources, and sometimes even horse stalls or turnout areas.

Private properties

You can stop at private properties for breaks if you have connections or arrangements with friends, family, or acquaintances along your route. Just be sure to get permission in advance and respect the property owner’s rules and guidelines.

In it for the long haul

Traveling with your horses can be challenging, but with proper planning, you and your horse can take the journey in stride. If you have questions about which horse trailer is right for a long-distance trip, Ken Feagin and his team have the answers! Give them a call or stop by to see their horse trailer selection in Campobello, SC! 

Shop all horse trailers today →

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