Traveling can be a stressful activity for any horse. If you plan on trailering your horse in the upcoming future, then you may want to consider these six ways that you can reduce your horse’s stress while traveling.
Take Short Trips
If your horse hasn’t ridden in a trailer in a while, then a trip can be very stressful. If you have a large trip coming up, then make a point of taking shorter trips with your horse, first. Load your horse in the trailer, take a short ride, and return home. Understanding the process of trailer loading and traveling will help to reduce your horse’s stress.
Bring a Buddy
Many horses can be comforted by the presence of a buddy in the trailer with them. If possible, bring one of your horse’s equine friends along for the ride. As an added bonus, seeing another horse load into the trailer first can make a reluctant loader more willing to get into a trailer.
Provide Plenty of Hay
Giving your horse hay while on the trailer is always a good idea. Horses tend to eat when they’re stressed, and the act of eating can help to distract your horse from what’s going on. Additionally, hay helps to buffer your horse’s stomach from the stomach acid that is created by stress, reducing his chance of developing ulcers.
Stop for Breaks
If you’re traveling a long distance, make sure that you stop for plenty of breaks in order to give your horse water. If traveling for more than about 8 hours, then schedule an overnight stop so your horse can unload, spend his night in a stall, and get quality rest before continuing his trip.
Leave Lots of Time for Loading
Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get your horse loaded. Even a horse who tends to load flawlessly will suddenly refuse to load when you’re pressed for time. By allowing enough time so that you can stay calm and relaxed if your horse doesn’t cooperate, you’ll help to keep him calm, too.
The way that you drive a trailer can directly influence your horse’s stress. Jerky trailer rides with short stops and hard accelerations make it difficult for your horse to stay balanced, requiring extra effort on his part and driving up his stress level. As you drive, leave plenty of distance between your truck and the vehicle in front of you. Be sure to come to gentle, gradual stops, and always accelerate slowly to help keep your horse comfortable.
Don’t forget to always do a trailer safety check before you pull out. Stay safe and have fun!