We recently hauled a young horse from Colorado to Texas for a friend to ride for the winter. It reminded me of some things to think of before hand and on the way.
Health Certificates are good for 30 days now, so get one about 3 weeks ahead of time from your veterinarian. This way, if your horse needs any vaccinations, it gives them time to build immunity and be past any problems.
At the same time, make sure that you have a current Coggins on your horse and get them any vaccines they might need for the new location. I normally do not give my horses Flu/Rhino in the winter because they are not around any other horses, but with our young horse going to a training barn with horses coming and going, I made sure she was up to date. Rabies is important to give horses in Colorado too, but infected animals are commonplace in Texas, so she received a Rabies vaccine too. My veterinarian uses Rhino/Flu and Rabies from the same manufacturer, which has not caused any reactions to date. Check the areas that you will be going through or to, so you know what vaccines may be necessary. Potomac Horse Fever is one that is important in the eastern United States.
Brand Inspection is important in Colorado for horses traveling over 75 miles. I decided just to get a permanent card for all of our horses since they all may be traveling in the future. Holly Golen is the Brand Inspector for our area. Click here for their website, contact information and guidelines.
People have different preferences when hauling, but we like to keep a day on the road to about 6-8 hours of road time. We give the horses breaks every few hours by stopping for a hour or so to eat or see some sites. The horses get plenty of exercise keeping their balance in the trailer, so having a chance to stand, drink and rest is important. They do not need to come out of the trailer. We offer water at all stops and leave it with them, taking note of how much they are drinking. We bring water with us, but mix it with new water as we go. We keep hay in front of them to keep them busy using a small hole feed bag, so they eat small amounts over a longer period of time. On this trip we had a stock side, slant load, two horse trailer and decided to leave our one horse loose in the trailer with a half bucket of water. Interestingly enough to me, our horse and the young horse we brought back with us for a friend both usually rode like they were tied in the first slant stall. Usually, I have heard and seen that horses will turn around and ride facing backwards… If your horse is tied, make sure they have enough slack to put their head down and cough.
Leg Protection – In general, for long trips I like to bed my horses about 8″ deep with shavings. This gives them shock absorption and protection. Certain horses may need to have standing wraps on if they are prone to stock up, have previous injuries, are coming back from an injury or may be unsettled in the trailer (kicking/pawing). If I had to pick one type of protection outside of deep bedding, I would go with bell boots on the front and back. As horses balance, this protects them from stepping on themselves or each other.
Overnight, we like to find a stall for them to rest, eat and drink. Smart phones are great for finding a place to stay while you are on the road and get a feel for where you might stop. On the way down we stayed at the Saline County Fairgrounds in Salina, Kansas and on the way back we stayed in Hays, Kansas – the horse at a stable we found on horsetrip.com. There are also listings on horsemotel.com and travelinghorse.com. Happy travels! Heather McWilliams © 2013.