The harsh winds, cold temperatures and icy conditions of winter create a unique set of cautions that you should be aware of when traveling with your horse. Take safety precautions to maintain stress-free, pleasurable journeys when you are hauling your horse along. Here are some of the top tips that need to be taken into consideration when transporting a horse in the winter. The following expert advice from Monty Roberts, the “Man Who Listens to Horses” and the creator of the equine training technique called Join-Up, can assist you whenever you're on the road with your horse.
Wintertime Horse Comfort and Safety Transportation Tips
Maintain Warmth and Comfort. Many horse owners and trainers worry about freezing temperatures and how to keep their horses warm when traveling. According to Roberts, "the most commonly made mistake in this situation is that we will tend to keep the horse too warm." A horse that's too warm can face health risks, as can a horse that's too cold. A blanket or horse coat should serve to keep your horse from getting chilled without warming it to the point of getting sweaty.
Prevent Injuries and Stress Due to Slippage. Make sure your horse doesn’t slip on a wet trailer floor from snow or ice. There are steps you can take to avoid injury or accident due to a slippery trailer floor. Roberts recommends having someone "in the vehicle with the horse." You might also allow your horse to go barefoot during the wintertime for better traction while standing and walking on snowy or icy conditions.
- Pre-Journey Horse Wellness Check. Hydration and comfort are important things to check on and take care of before hauling a horse during the winter. Work on this in advance, suggests Monty Roberts, by conditioning your horse to accept water containing electrolytes. Additionally, on longer journeys, it's smart to stop frequently and give your horse some moderate exercise to avoid the muscle cramping that can occur in colder temperatures. Having a trainer or owner ride with the horse can ensure that you're able to keep a watchful eye on the horse's well-being and comfort.
Wintertime Trailer Towing Tips
Pre-Trip Trailer Check. There are many common sense things you'll check before using a horse trailer, such as brakes, lights and tires. But it's also important to add "ventilation" to your pre-journey checklist. "Care should be taken not to have it too drafty but certainly not sealed off so that fresh air is unavailable," says Roberts. Although you might be tempted to seal the trailer tight to keep the cold air out, your horse needs fresh air just as much as you do.
- Wintertime Transport Problems. Have a wintertime supply box on hand in the event of a weather-related problem. This container might include an equine first aid kit, horse coat or blanket, some extra food and water, and any other items that would be necessary if your truck or trailer break down in the middle of a transport. Planning ahead can help you avoid many of the common problems faced during wintertime transportation, but preparedness can also help when unavoidable problems arise.
"Transporting horses in wintertime can vary tremendously depending on the geographic location," says Roberts. But your pre-journey preparations can minimize or remove the potential problems caused by winter conditions. Be proactive by using the wisdom and tips provided by the "Man Who Listens to Horses." Incorporating this information into your routine before, during and after transporting a horse in winter will ensure a safe, enjoyable ride for everyone.