The Trip Begins – Traveling with Your Horse

Many horses spend at least some time on the road every year, whether going to a state park for a trail ride or across the country for a big year-end competition. It's important to plan ahead for these trips so that both horses and humans will have a safe, enjoyable time. For more information on preparing for the trip, see "Traveling with your Horse – Packing & Getting Ready". Once you are packed, your route is planned, reservations are made, and the trailer is prepared, you will need to get your horse ready.

Dress your horse for the journey according to the time of year and how thick his hair coat is. Open the trailer windows for ventilation during the drive, but remember that it's still going to be warmer inside the trailer than outside. Protect your horse's legs with leg wraps that cover from the knee/hock down to the ground. The coronary band area is the place most susceptible to injury as the horse moves about to keep his balance. You can use quilts, leg wraps and bell boots or sturdy nylon or Velcro shipping boots. The most common injuries occur during loading and unloading so don't wait to place leg/foot protection on the horse. Tips for a safe and happy trip include:

At the end of your trip, packing to go home can seem really easy if you and your horse had a great competition, and perhaps earned a nice big ribbon. Or it can be a real drag, if the show did not go too well or your horse lost a shoe on the trail ride. In either case, everything must get put back safely in the rig to go home. Check with the manager's office to see if you have to strip your stall down to the bare floor. Some facilities, especially one-night stops, will only ask that you clean the stall (remove manure and wet spots), while others require stripping.

Be sure to say thank-you to your hosts before you head home. If the trip was safe and enjoyable for both horse and rider, you can look forward to doing it again next year.