Travelling Your Horse Safely
With the warmer weather on its way, it’s the perfect time to get out and about with your horse or pony. Whether you hope to attend more competitions, ride on the beach or travel to hack for a change of scenery, keep your horse happy and safe with our top tips.
While most horses travel with no problems, some can become nervous or stressed, usually if it is their first time or due to previous experiences. Aside from horses, it can also be a stressful time for owners and riders as there often seems to be so much to do, pack and remember before you even leave the yard!
Follow our guide to travelling your horse safely which has tips for each part of the journey to help keep you and your horse happy and stress-free.
Before you head to the yard
Before you even leave your home, make sure you know the route you are going to use and make a note of any vet practices along the way in case your horse slips or needs medical attention. It’s also worth checking for any traffic reports before you leave so that you can adjust your plans/timings to accommodate any alternative routes.
Make sure you’ve packed your horse’s passport and anything else you may need from home such as insurance details.
Getting the horsebox or trailer ready
For a safe journey for both you and your horse, preparation of your horsebox or trailer is vital. Check the flooring is intact and there is no damage whether it’s wood or aluminium and all signals work such as the indicators and brakes, especially if you are towing.
When in the back, double check the floor is dry and clean, some sort of bedding (even better if it’s their own) can provide comfort and can add extra stability. A haynet would be much appreciated as your horse will relax more quickly while he/she eats. Plus,pack water carriers if you’re going to be on the road for a long period of time or if you aren’t sure if there will be access to water at your destination.
In the unlikely event that your trailer or box breaks down or fails, make sure you have breakdown cover and somewhere safe for you and your horse to go (there may be overnight stabling or grazing along the way).
Keeping your horse protected while travelling
Whether it the horse’s first or last time travelling, making sure he or she is well protected is a must. A travel or cooler rug provides lightweight and anti-wicking properties keeping your horse cool and comfortable while in transit.
Travel boots or bandages with foam padding underneath are ideal for total protection in case your horse traps his leg in the partition or knocks himself, a poll guard, either made of leather or foam prevents any knocks to his head. Tail bandages or tail bags are great to reduce rubbing.
A headcollar (ideally made of leather, as these are easier to cut or the horse to snap) with a leadrope tied to a piece of baling twine or something similar using a quick release knot makes it easier to free your horse should they become distressed.
Masta Travel Boots
Strong hook and loop fastenings
Designed to keep your horse’s legs protected whilst travelling
Includes a soft fleece lining
Masta Wickmasta Rug
High quality fleece outer
Wicking properties make this rug extremely popular for use during travelling
Warm, lightweight and breathable
Cottage Craft Tail Bandage
Durable and elasticated
Tie tape fastening for a tidy easy to use finish
Ideal for protecting the tail when travelling
Caldene Leather Padded Headcollar
Smart, traditional leather headcollar
Made from soft and strong vegetable tanned leather
Adjustable nose, buckle head and quick release throat fastening.
Loading your horse
Loading your horse can be more stressful than travelling, some horses may take a little longer to become accustomed and some just simply walk straight on. No matter the case, each time should be calm and stress-free.
If you are travelling your horse alone in a trailer with a partition, ensure he is on the right-hand side (behind the driver) so he can remain balanced. Give yourself and your horse plenty of time in case of any situations which may arise and always be patient. If in any doubt, ask for help from someone with experience or for some extra support.
Don’t forget some protection for yourself too, make sure you have on your hat, a pair of gloves and protective boots when loading to prevent any injuries caused by a spooky or nervous horse.
Caldene Ultra Plus Back Riding Hat
Stylish Riding hat with eye catching diamante crystal detail
Ventilation system to keep you cool when out riding
Coolmax lining to regulate temperature no matter how active you are
Mountain Horse Alexis Tech Glove
Super light riding glove for women
High-grip palm & reinforced fingers
Great comfort & dexterity
Travelling your horse
The journey allows the horse to relax and get used to all new smells and environments. Driving slow and steady means your horse can balance himself properly and prevents any slips. Taking corners at a slower rate reduces falls, which is more beneficial in a trailer as it can cause an unbalance when towing.
If you are travelling long distances, ensure you add enough stops so that you can untie your horse and take him for a short walk off the box/trailer and he is able to stretch his neck. Modern horseboxes are installed with cameras making it easy to view that your horse is settled, however these can also be purchased for added peace of mind.
If your horse is young or inexperienced, keep travelling short and never become cross as this can have detrimental effects in the long run. Above all, always make sure your horse is comfortable and at ease.
After arriving at your destination, walk your horse in-hand for a while (this also helps so he can see his surroundings and remain calm). Tie up rings can be found on the sides of horseboxes or baling twine attached to the trailer makes it easy to tie your horse up if you need to tack up or get yourself ready. Fill a water bucket and tie up his haynet to allow your horse to eat and drink when needed. Remember not to leave your horse tied up and unattended at events, if you have to leave and you don’t have company then put your horse back in the box or trailer until you return.
To see more of our equestrian articles, or to catch up with our equestrian expert Sonya Cunningham, visit the ArdMoor blog.