Whether you compete or not, there invariably are times when you’ll need to transport your horse somewhere — maybe to the vets or to a new yard. Unfortunately, a bad transport experience could easily turn a fret-free traveller into a nervous one—so how do you make your trip as smooth as possible?
Careful driving at a sensible speed is essential but, in addition to that, there are steps that you can take to minimise the risks of injury or illness during the drive.
• Allow enough time for your trip, especially if your horse is a reluctant loader. Trying to rush him when he doesn’t want to go up the ramp will get the journey off to a stressful start.
• Ensure that you have your horse’s passport with you while in transit.
• Plan for the unexpected. If your 4×4 or lorry breaks down, you will be glad of the extra layers you packed for yourself and your horse and also of that spare haynet and snack you remembered to put in the car.
• Ensure that all the partitions and the breast bar are safely secured before you set off on your journey.
• Make sure that the horsebox/trailer has adequate ventilation.
• Give your horse ample space, but not too much. If you remove the middle partition in a trailer, for example, he will have little to brace himself against around corners, increasing the likelihood that he may become unbalanced and fall over.
• Kit him out in travel boots or bandages, a tail guard and a leather headcollar with a poll guard.
• Carry a spare headcollar and rope in case of breakages.
• When it is cold, rug your horse appropriately so that he doesn’t become chilled. If the weather is warm, however, avoid over-rugging as horses are best kept cool in transit.
• Securely tie a haynet close to your horse so that he can eat in transit. It will help to alleviate the boredom of a long journey and may help to prevent a fretful traveller playing up.
• Check on your horse and also offer him water during regular stops so that he doesn’t become dehydrated.
• Stop every four hours or so to untie him so that he can put his head down. Horses who travel for hours with their heads up are more at risk of developing respiratory diseases.
• If your horse is taken ill in transit or falls over and injures himself, stop as soon as you safely can and call your vet immediately.
• Where possible stick to main roads, which are smoother than country routes.