Summer is here and for many equestrians the seasonal circuit is beckoning. Traveling to summer horse shows can mean trailering your horse in hot weather. Whether you are headed to the next show, bringing your horse to your trainer for a lesson, or headed for a summer ride along the beach, the following tips can help keep your horse cool while traveling:
- Teach your horse to load and unload calmly. When a horse gets worked up, it can become hot and agitated. If your horse is too stressed from loading or unloading, it could be more susceptible to the stresses of heat and travel. Teaching your horse to load calmly can help it stay relaxed and cool at the start of its journey.
- Forgo the sheet or lightweight blankets. It might be nice to cover your horse with a lightweight blanket - after all it will keep it clean during its trailer ride, however the blanket will also reduce its ability to dissipate heat. When you are blanketing horses for a spring or summer ride - keep in mind that the trailers are often 20 degrees warmer than the outside temperature. A good rule of thumb is that if you are sweating inside the trailer then your equine partner will be sweating, too.
- Properly ventilate the trailer. Prior to loading any horses make sure that all of the windows and roof vents are open on hot summer days. While all trailers are equipped with vents, some owners choose to add additional remote operated fans on the inside of the trailer. It is recommended that these fans only be used when the trailer is not in motion.
- Add rubber mats to the trailer floors. Rubber mats will not only make the ride more comfortable for your horse, but it will also help to keep the heat off its legs. Some also choose to add shavings on top of the mats for additional cushioning during longer hauls.
- Load your trailer in a smart manner. Just as you wouldn't put the family dog into the car before you load the suitcases, you shouldn't put a horse onto the trailer before all of the equipment, tack and trunks are loaded. In short, load everything else first and the horses last. Immediately depart once the horses are safely loaded; this will help keep the trailer cool for your equine partners.
- Skip the heat of the day. If possible, leave in the early morning or at dusk to avoid the hottest part of the day. The summer sun adds extra heat to the trailer. Avoiding its bright rays can keep your trailer cool and your horses happy.
- Don't forget to hydrate. On longer hauls, it is a good idea to stop and offer your horses water every four to five hours. Allowing your horses the much-needed water break will help to keep them hydrated and healthy during their trip.
- Don't park your trailer in the sun. Heat increases the longer your trailer is parked in the sun. Whether you are heading to your trainer for a lesson or to a one-day horse show, make sure that you park your trailer in the shade. Just as you wouldn't want to get into a car that has been sitting in the hot sun all day, horses shouldn't be placed into a hot trailer.
- Offer water upon arrival. Whether you are taking a short trip or an overnight shipping venture, make sure that you offer your horse water as soon as it arrives and is settled at its destination. Water is necessary to replenish lost electrolytes. Additionally, water should still be offered, even if your horse has had a drink during the trip.
- Choose your trailer wisely. Trailers come in all shapes and sizes. If you are planning on trailering your horse during hot weather, make sure that your trailer has the following attributes: roof vents, window vents, ramps that can be safely left open (upon arrival at your destination) and adjustable stall divides. As with anything horse related, you will also want to check the safety features of your chosen trailer.
With these top ten tips in mind, you will be ready to hit the road to safely and coolly transport your horse to its summer travel destinations.
Image source: shutterstock
Daryll Sukhbir is the Director of Quality at CURT Manafacturing. CURT Manufacturing is a top manufacturer of high-quality towing products. Daryll specializes in design for Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing, and Total Quality Management disciplines.