Trailering a horse a long distance can be stressful for both horse and driver, but with proper preparation and equipment you can reduce hauling stress significantly. Below are a few tips and hints from a seasoned long distance trailerer.
1. When trailering a horse longer than 4 hours, try to stop every 3-4 hours for 10-20 minutes. You do not need to unload (in fact, unless you can stop at a farm along the way, it’s unsafe to unload) but simply parking your trailer in a shady spot will allow your horse to unbrace their legs and rest for a few minutes.
2. Let a horse have a haybag when trailering a horse a long distance. Having hay to munch on reduces boredom. You may want to refrain from feeding grain before your trip, as feeding grain while hauling may increase the likelihood of colic.
3. Offer water every few hours, but don’t expect they will drink. Many horses will not drink while traveling. If you expect this to be a problem, there are several solutions: A. bring your own water, so the taste is familiar, B. Administer electrolytes the day before hauling, so the horse will be thirstier, C. Use powdered gatoraide to add a sweet flavor to the water, or D. soak your hay bags before feeding to increase water intake (this has an added bonus of decreasing dust).
4. For trips more than several hours, it is not advisable to use shipping boots or wraps. Over time, and particularly in heat, these wraps can become a hazard rather than a benefit. If your horse has sensitive skin do use fleece halter tubes to prevent halter rubs. Head bumpers are an inexpensive way to offer some protection to your horse’s sensitive poll.
5. It is safe to leave a horse loaded in a trailer up to 24 hours. If your trip is longer than 24 hours, including stops, it’s best to pre-arrange a layover stop with a boarding stable or fair ground halfway through your haul.
6. Always carry the following when hauling a horse long distances:
negative coggins paper
spare halter and lead
equine first aid kit
7. Before leaving on your long distance horse haul, it’s a good idea to take your trailer to a dealership to have lights, brakes, and the floor checked to make sure it’s up to the trip. When your trailer gets a clean bill of health, make sure the feed areas of the trailer are clean and dust and mold free, then cover your trailer floor with a light covering of bedding to absorb waste.