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Do you find yourself getting stressed when it’s time to take your horse on a road trip, whether it be to a show, clinic, or to explore some new trails? The good news is that it can be a lot simpler and easier than you might think. So if you have something on your bucket list that you’d like to do that’s far away, try not to let a long trailer ride get in the way of having a fun, enjoyable experience with your horse. Because it’s very achievable, and there are lots of ways you can make it a successful trip.
First off is trailer design. The most comfortable ride for your horse is a backwards-facing or slant load. The least comfortable for your horse to travel is forwards-facing. Because a horse carries a lot of the weight over its front legs, and in the forwards-facing trailer they will carry more weight on their back legs. Over long periods can put stress on the horse. A slant load trailer distributes the weight more evenly.
Airflow is also important; whether that be from drop down windows or vents. It’s always good to have airflow no matter the weather. For hay, if you have to use a hay net. Slow feed hay nets are the best because the hay will last longer, and you won’t have to worry about a hoof getting caught. Water I find that horses don’t usually drink unless they’ve been in the trailer for at least six hours or more. If they are in a trailer shorter than six hours, I don’t typically offer them water. However, the weather may play into how often they drink as well. 3–5-gallon water jugs work great from hauling water around. If you find your horse does not want to drink, there is a product called Whinny Water. Whinny Water is a product designed to encourage horses to drink, even if they’re stressed or feeling under the weather.
Another way to keep them comfortable and your trailer clean is to put down shavings. That way it absorbs any mess, and they’re also familiar with the smell and feel. It may also help to give your horses something to protect them from ulcers before they load, like Gastra FX. This protects their tummy if they get stressed, which can cause ulcers or even stress colic. If your horse is fed grain and you grain them at the same time every day at home, it is important to try and stick to that schedule so that they’re not going to be thrown off their routine too much.
One big question is, how many hours can you trailer a horse? Ultimately, it depends on the health of your horse, and the comfort of your trailer. 12 hours I would say would be the max, but 6-9 hours is ideal. It can be surprisingly easy to find places to lay over your horses. Google Maps is a great resource. If you map out your route and search for equestrian stables, horse stables etc you can find ones that are along your route. There are also websites like Air B & Bs for humans but for horses, like the Bed and Bale app, Horse Motel (add link to horse motel https://www.horsemotel.com/ ) and Saddles and Sheets (add link to saddles and sheet https://www.saddlesandsheets.com/). Usually, the cost is anywhere from $10 to $25 a night depending on what’s included.
Another factor is the truck you are hauling with. Yes, it can be nice to have a big truck so you can pull a living quarter trailer with, but I have found that the cost is much less to have a smaller truck and trailer and find hotels nearby. Some of the overnight horse stays will have accommodations as well. It is also important to stay under 10,000 pounds for your trailer fully loaded, this means you can avoid having to get the upgraded license. When it comes to crossing a border or even crossing within states, you do need to make sure you have the proper health certificate and a coggings. When crossing the border from the USA to Canada you need to have the Federal Vet stamp which is the USDA in the state or the CFIA in Canada. Keep in mind that it can take up to a couple days to get the stamp and cost roughly $100. But otherwise pretty easy to go back and forth. When you’re coming into Canada, they don’t require anything unless your horse is coming off a quarantine, which you will need paperwork for, and you can get that information from your vet.
Paperwork and crossing, you want to cross in the commercial lane, except in Florida. They have an agriculture lane where they will match up the paperwork to the horses on the trailer. If you are worried about crossing the border with your horse, don’t be it is much smoother to cross with horses than one would think. Just remember that your health paperwork is only good for 30 days. If your paperwork expires, this just means that you will have to get new health certificates in the states.
So, if you have something on your bucket list that you want to do with your horse don’t be afraid to put it on your to-do list and make it happen. It’s easier to plan than you might think and worth the experiences and memories with your horse. It is also a really great bonding experience.
If you haven’t already taken your horse somewhere, hopefully, this has inspired you to go somewhere with your horse and knock that something off of your bucket list. Enjoy the journey. I hope you and your horse stay safe and comfortable this winter. As always enjoy the journey.
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