Part of the joy of owning a horse is being able to travel the country and exploring its beauty via horseback. But so many people who have never taken on an excursion of this nature can sometimes get lost with how to plan and prepare for a trip of this kind. If only it were as easy as throwing the tent into the trunk and hitting the open road! Hopefully, with the help of this article, you can better plan ahead for the trail ride you’ve always dreamed of.
Does your horse load into a trailer? Your horse will be spending a great deal of time in the trailer depending on the distance you are traveling; make sure he is completely comfortable with his quarters. Spend a few days ahead of time loading him on, feeding him inside and getting him adjusted and used to the idea of spending time in the trailer. The last thing you want is to be spending three hours the day or the trip trying to load a distressed horse.
Make sure all horses going on your trip have seen the vet. You will need to have a health certificate for each horse as well as a valid Coggins test. Put together a comprehensive first aid kit. Pre-made equine first aid kits are available, but I prefer packing them myself so I can choose my favorite brands and products to include. Just make sure you are prepared for any worst case scenario.
Make the choice about whether you will be using shipping boots and/or head bumpers. After lots of personal experiences with scraped up legs and split heads, I personally use both boots and head guards on ALL my horses.
Try to keep your daily driving times to less than 10 hours. Give your horses an occasional break every 3 hours or so. Don’t take them out of the trailer, just allow them to rest their legs by not having to constantly balance their weight. Never unload horses at a roadside or travel stop.
Hydration, hydration, hydration! Keep your horses hydrated throughout the trip! Offer horses water at each stop. Some horses may refuse strange water, so like to add a “splash” of organic apple juice to the water if they do. Spend some time in the week leading up to the trip getting your horse used to the additive in their water. Be sure to bring lots of hay as well. Calculate out how much you will need so you don’t short your horse.
If you follow these basic guidelines, you and your horse can freely enjoy your adventure together. Happy trails!