I can almost guarantee that every horse owner has had a horse, or at least interacted with one, that didn’t want anything to do with the trailer. I know that I certainly have, and my newly grown fingernail could tell you the whole story, but that’s for another day. In the meantime, I’d like to share some tips and tricks that I’ve come across to decrease any trailer-related stress, for both horse and owner.
Below is a list comprised of desensitizing exercises, processes to implement in your daily routine, and ways to handle all aspects of trailering your four-legged friend.
Trailering & Travel 101:
- Always practice loading your horse before departing on a trip of any length. Spend a few minutes a day, during the weeks prior, loading and unloading your horse. Allow them to stand in the trailer for several minutes with the doors and windows open.
- Whenever you’re loading your horse into any trailer, it’s always best to try making it as light as possible inside. Open doors and windows, turn on any interior lights, and try to plan for loading during daylight hours if your travel schedule permits it.
- If you’re using a straight-load two horse trailer but only loading one horse, be sure to load them on the left side to keep the trailer balanced while driving. Roads peak in the center to allow for runoff, so this will keep the trailer riding as evenly as possible.
- If you plan on making a trip that is more than ten hours long, it’s always a good idea to feed your horse a hot bran and mineral oil dinner 24 hours before departure.
- When traveling, horses should always have hay available. The best way to do this is by using a hay net. For travels longer than a couple of hours, make sure to have extra hay and utilize a slow-feeding hay net, if available. This will keep your horse occupied and from devouring their whole snack at once.
- Be sure to have a first aid kit in the trailer at all times. Horses get bored while traveling and can even get a little anxious. Accidents happen, even when we wish they wouldn’t, and it’s better to be prepared.
- Traveling with another horse that is confident in the trailer can also help with anxiety. It’s especially helpful to have your “confident loader” stand in the trailer while you’re practicing with a nervous loader.
These are just a few ways that you can improve your trailering experience as a whole. Clearly this list could go on and on, but start including these small steps in your routine to get big results!