Horseback Riding

Ready, Set, Haul

August 19, 2013

Want to go horseback riding in a new location? Take heed of these trailering tips and get there safely.

trailering horses

Tractor Supply Co. offers several ideas for staying safe on the road with your horses. Photo courtesy of Tractor Supply Co./J. Keeler Johnson

By Samantha Johnson for AQHA Corporate Partner Tractor Supply Co.

If you’re a horse owner, sooner or later you’re going to want to haul your horse somewhere, whether it’s to a show, out for a trail ride or even to a vet or farrier appointment.

Knowing how to transport your horse safely is vitally important for any horse owner, to ensure the safety and well-being of your horse – and yourself.

Horses can be fearful of the entire trailering experience, so you should minimize situations that could disturb your horse.

Here are a few quick tips to help you safely trailer your horse:

  • Give your horse plenty of space to reduce feelings of fright.
  • If you need to tie your horse adjust the rope to the proper length.
  • Use quick-release knots when securing your horse inside the trailer.
  • Bring plenty of water for your horse.
  • Bring extra hay and grain.
  • Bring an extra halter and lead rope in case you have an equipment failure.
  • Always travel with your horse’s paperwork.
  • Try not to make sudden stops or sharp turns.
  • Inspect the trailer before every trip to make sure it is in proper driving condition. This includes tires, floors, doors, signal lights and the hitch connection.

Now you know some great tips for trailering safely. But what happens when your horse doesn’t want to jump in the trailer? Don’t let this situation ruin your weekend plans. Download AQHA’s FREE Horse Trailer Loading Tips report today for great advice.

Some horse owners transport their horses loose in the trailers to give them a more natural and less confined trip, especially if they’re hauling a single horse. The horse is free to move about and is often more comfortable than when restricted in a tight stall.

If you do tie your horse, give him the right amount of rope. You don’t want your horse to ride with his head high in the air because his rope is too short to allow him to stretch his neck. Likewise, a rope that is too long will make it possible for him to try to turn around  or put a front leg over the rope, neither of which are safe situations.

Always tie a quick-release knot using a good, sturdy lead rope in good condition. You can also use a special trailer tie rather than a lead rope. The main advantage here is easier length adjustment and built-in quick-release snaps.

Bring-Alongs

Never leave home without water for your horse. Some horses are reluctant to drink water that tastes differently than their regular water, so if you bring along several gallons from home, your horse may be more apt to drink it.

Always bring extra hay. If your trip takes longer than anticipated, you won’t be caught short without hay to keep your horse occupied and nourished. Plus, your horse can munch during the trip. If your trailer is not equipped with built-in mangers, you can fill a hay net or hay bag. Hay bags are a more popular choice and are believed to be the safer option, because a horse’s hoof could become entangled in the hay net.

Bring along some of your horse’s regular grain. Even if you decide not to feed grain to your horse while on the road, you’ll have some with you if your horse needs a little “encouragement” loading into the trailer during your travels.

It’s easy to lose your temper when teaching a horse to load in a trailer. Unfortunately, getting impatient is the worst thing you can do. Help is on the way, with AQHA’s FREE Horse Trailer Loading Tips report. Download it for free today.

Throw in an extra halter and lead rope. Equipment failure does happen, and you don’t want to be caught on the road without replacements.

Always travel with your horse’s appropriate paperwork. This includes a current negative Coggins test and possibly an Interstate Health Certificate. Talk to your veterinarian about the paperwork you will need.

Safety First

While driving, always be mindful that your horse is in the trailer behind you and try to minimize any sharp turns, fast stops or sudden moves that could cause your horse to lose his balance.

Know the condition of your horse trailer. Before each use, inspect the floorboards. If you have rubber mats in the trailer, lift them and check underneath. Make sure that everything is strong and secure with no weak spots.

Check your hitch before heading out on the road and double check that everything is connected properly.

Check the air in the trailer tires and make sure that your brake and signal lights are in proper working order. A few minutes of precaution can prevent problems later.

Trailer Safety Kit

  • Complete equine emergency kit
  • 100 feet of half-inch rope
  • Small tool kit including wire cutter, knife, tweezers, etc.
  • Jumper cables
  • Two flashlights with extra batteries
  • Roll of duct tape
  • Emergency flares
  • Cell phone
  • Phone number directory with numbers for your veterinarian and border crossing veterinarian
  • Trailer jack
  • Spare tire (complete with air)
  • Spare wheel bearing
  • Cash

Now, what are you waiting for? Hitch up your trailer, and have some fun with your horse!

There are still lots of AQHA Trail Rides happening around the country this year! Find an AQHA Trail Ride near you and enjoy your time in the saddle with other AQHA members!