We recently posed the question in our online community; “How long to haul your horse in a single day?” What we got back was more than we bargained for. Instead of a number on how many hours one would haul, we got advice for making the long hauls safe and comfortable. Here are tips from the field for making long hauls doable:
Leading your horse to water:
Hydration is one of the key essentials for hauling horses long distances, especially in hot climates. But what to do when your horse won’t drink?
Provide a water source in the trailer he can drink from while hauling. Tie a bucket that can be refilled during stops or better yet, rig up an automatic watering system from your horse water tanks with a simple pump and float assembly.
Add a flavored electrolyte to his water bucket or some other tasty, sugary and safe additive that your horse simply cannot resist like packets of apple juice or a peppermint candy. There are other products on the market specifically designed to encourage your horse to drink, and one of these should work.
Giving your horse a break:
It is generally agreed that when hauling up to eight hours or more, stopping every four to six hours to let the horses out for a break is a good idea. Find a rodeo arena or fair grounds along the way where you can let them stretch their legs and take a roll. Best to plan these stops in advance so you know exactly where you will stop.
On trips of six hours or less, several folks indicated that it’s best to get the trip over with for the benefit of your horse. The idea is that it’s better to get them to their new stall without hassling them by taking them off and on the trailer.
Comfort and Safety:
Most people agree that a clean, thick layer of shavings is a good idea to add comfort for long hauling.
Some people go so far as to add air suspension to the trailer claiming that horses are more comfortable during hauling and arrive less stressed and fatigued.
A fly mask to prevent flying debris from irritating the eyes as well as bell boots, front and back to prevent them from stepping on themselves during short stops or sudden turns is also recommended.
To feed or to not to feed:
Some people don’t like feeding for fear of colic during long hauls but the general consensus is hay is a good idea when hauling. It gives something for your horse to do and it’s a great time to let him eat his morning or evening meals while hauling down the road.
Be gentle on your horse. Slow down on rough roads and take your cornering and stopping easy. One respondent suggested you ride around the block in your horse trailer to get an idea of how the ride feels for yourself.