January 13, 2009
Tips to get your horse through the next haul safely.
If your horse is a first-time hauler, and he’s a young horse, give him enough slack in the rope that his butt hits the back of the trailer when he pulls back, so he doesn’t pull back and get scared.
If you’ve got him so short he can’t hit the back end, it scares him, and then he starts rearing up and pawing and striking. He could get a leg over the rope and wrap it around his neck. Then you’re off to a bad start. It takes just one bad experience to create a bad hauler.
Panic snaps on lead ropes are helpful and could prevent injury. If a horse begins to get in a jam, you can quickly release him and avoid injury to yourself and your horse.
Enjoying the Ride
Many horse experts avoid feeding grain on trips, but instead keep hay in front of the horses at all times. It’s good to stop every four or five hours to offer water and rest. A good 45-minute break will give your horses time to relax.
You might choose to break up long hauls by staying overnight to allow horses to rest.
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Allow enough time for a horse to recuperate from a long haul before the show begins. If you can, go about three days early so your horse can rest and get back into showing shape.
Some horses don’t eat or drink well during a trip, so arriving a couple days early can help them rehydrate and reestablish good eating habits.
Ventilation is important for horses, but screens should always remain in the trailer windows. Allowing horses to stick their heads out of the trailer windows is dangerous. And remember that when you stop to go in the air-conditioned restaurant, your horse is in the hot trailer.
Be aware of changing weather conditions and be prepared for any temperature changes. Keep your horse as comfortable as you can so he can look the best he can. Bring several horse blankets and be willing to take them on and off as the temperature changes.
Once You’re There
When you arrive at a horse show, bed your horse’s stall and ensure fresh water and hay are available. Wait a couple hours to feed grain.
Take your horse for a 10- 15-minute walk to loosen up his muscles.
It is also important to observe your horse in his stall to check for sickness or injury from the trip. If your horse is going to get sick, it will most likely be very shortly after you’ve put him in his stall. So spend some time observing him to make sure he’s rehydrating and feeling OK.
“When you get to the horse show, you don’t just dump these horses in the stalls, and say, ‘Well, I’m headed to the hotel,’ ” he notes. “You’ve got to stay there and watch them for a little bit because if they’re going to get sick, they’re going to get sick very shortly after you’ve got them in the stall. You need to, for good management, spend some time with them and watch them to make sure they’re OK and not dehydrated.”
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