September 9, 2021
Shipping can be extraordinarily stressful for both horses and humans, but it doesn't need to be. Owners can set their equine partners up for success long before departing home by establishing a well-organized plan ahead of time. Keep reading our ultimate guide to shipping your horse to learn how to spend less time stressing about the trip and more time enjoying the journey.
Shipping prep begins long before your horse ever steps foot in a trailer. Taking the time to prepare your horse for travel will allow for a more efficient trip and potentially alleviate unnecessary stress resulting from any unexpected events that may occur along the way. As we know, anything can happen when you’re working with horses.
Make sure you have all your travel documents organized and stored away in a safe and convenient location well before you need to ship your horse, especially if you are traveling between state borders.
Some essential documents that should accompany your horse during travel include, but are not limited to, a negative Coggins test, a recent health certificate, and proof of vaccinations. Paperwork requirements can vary depending on your destination, so it’s essential to check in with your veterinarian well beforehand to make sure you are well prepared.
In addition to all the required paperwork, you should never leave home without a human and equine first aid kit. As stated before, anything can happen with horses. Therefore, having well-equipped first aid kits is vital in preventing a scary situation from turning into an even more dangerous one.
A complete inspection of your vehicle and trailer before any trip is also crucial to ensure your rig is well-equipped for the journey and limit the risks of unexpected malfunctions. In addition, loading your trailer with the proper amount of bedding and properly hung hay bags in advance can help save time on the day of travel.
Packing lists can vary depending on your discipline and reason for travel. Making sure your packing list fits you and your horse is vital. However, packing a spare halter and lead rope is always recommended.
Practice inspecting, driving, and parking until you feel 100% comfortable and confident if you are responsible for driving. It is also a good idea to practice loading and unloading your horse before the trip. Even if that means taking a quick spin around your neighborhood, this will give you the time to calmly practice and provide a positive experience for your horse regarding travel.
A well-thought-out route is also crucial in avoiding any complications along the way. Relying on your phone or navigation system can land drivers in precarious situations with their truck and trailer. Instead, plan your exact route and schedule horse-friendly stops to ensure that you can always easily park and maneuver your rig.
For many owners, loading is the most stressful part of shipping horses. However, establishing proper groundwork with your horse can be the ultimate tool for ensuring that you can quickly and easily load your horse on a trailer whenever you need to. Without formal groundwork training and communication, your horse may be confused, nervous, and unsure why he should walk up into a tiny box on wheels.
Set aside a few training sessions dedicated to groundwork to make sure both you and your horse are in sync. It may be helpful to have another person present when loading as well. This person can help lead the horse onto the trailer and attach the cross-tie to the halter or lower the hind bar and close the back of the trailer behind the horse. Whoever completes which task, always go back and double-check that everything is secure and ready for taking off.
Everyone has their preferences, but it is always recommended to load your horse in a properly fitting leather halter and leg protection. Some horsemen prefer a fleece-lined shipping halter and shipping boots, while others stick with simple bell boots and standing wraps. If you are not confident in your wrapping ability, boots may be the better option as wraps can come undone. Use your best judgment and do what you feel is the best option for your horse, length of travel, and overall situation.
The length of your trip and the intensity of travel are essential factors to consider when planning stops. Ideally, your horse should have access to hay for the entirety of the journey through a well-secured hay net and receive water every three to six hours if he does not have consistent access to a water bucket in the trailer.
Ensure that your horse has enough hay in his hay bag and offer him water at every stop. You should never unload your horse unless it is an absolute emergency or you are stopping to board overnight somewhere. Running the risk of having your horse off the trailer next to a busy highway and struggling to get them back on is not a problem anyone wants to encounter.
You should also monitor your horse’s vital signs and check for signs of colic, stress, or other unusual behaviors, to help catch any indications of sickness before it progresses during the trip. And before heading back onto the road, always double-check that everything is still secure, including your trailer hitch.
After arriving safely at your destination, you still have to remember to take precautions when unloading your horse to avoid unnecessary risk. To unload, follow the same groundwork rules as you did when loading and be sure to move slowly. Your horse may be stiff from the travel, so encourage them to take their time when stepping off the trailer.
Upon arrival, recheck your horse's vital signs by recording their temperature, pulse, and respiratory rate. Also, be sure to check for any scrapes, cuts, or injuries while removing their shipping attire.
If everything is good and well, allow your horse to move around and stretch in their stall or paddock. Ensure they have free access to hay and water and let them rest to recover from the journey. Traveling can be a significant stressor on our horses and it’s essential to give them the time to physically and mentally recover so they can perform to the best of their ability wherever your journey takes you.
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Professional's Choice Trailer Corner Feeder
The convenient Professional's Choice Trailer Corner Feeder can be used in slant load trailers or as a corner feeder in a stall. Featuring an extra tough 1000 denier mesh bottom that allows dust and debris to fall through and air to permeate, which helps to resist mildew. This durable, black duratex feeder includes strong nylon webbing edges, reinforced grommets at each corner, and three double-ended, heavy-duty snaps.Shop This Product
5/A Baker Trailer Tie
Made of durable polypropylene woven in the original Baker plaid design with a signature red tag, easily adjustable length, and brass plated hardware, the 5/A Baker Trailer Tie combines high-quality construction with classic style for long-lasting use.Shop This Product
Professional's Choice Trailer Door Caddy
The Professional's Choice Trailer Door Caddy is a hanging organizer designed for your horse, and you. Featuring convenient open and zippered mesh pockets to keep things neat, it even includes insulated cup holders to hold your beverages while you groom. Made of durable, black PVC coated fabric and strong 1000 denier mesh, the Trailer Door Caddy is easy to secure to your trailer door or stall wall with mounting fasteners and adjustable hook-and-loop closures. Screws included. Available in short and tall sizes.Shop This Product
EquiMedic Medium/Double Treatment Wound Care Kit
The EquiMedic Medium Treatment Wound Care Kit contains everything you need in case of an equine emergency! This kit provides one place to quickly and efficiently care for your horse's laceration/abrasion without having to search for what to use. Kit contains 12 products to treat a moderate wound twice.Shop This Product
Encourage your tired, stressed, or anxious horses to drink more water with the Horse Quencher Inc. Horse Quencher. It uses all-natural grains and horse-approved flavors to attract horses and keep them drinking water in cold weather, while traveling or after shows and exercise to prevent health issues stemming from lack of fluids.Shop This Product
Merial UlcerGard Oral Paste
Use UlcerGard Oral Paste for Horses to protect your horses from the pain and discomfort that comes from gastric ulcers. This horse product helps treat and prevent the recurrence of gastric ulcers.Shop This Product
Protect Your Horse On The Road