Transporting your horse can be a stressful experience for you and your horse. For example, horses lose two to five pounds of body weight for every hour they travel – and that's in cool weather. This can increase dramatically in hot weather due to evaporation at the body surface or sweating. Horses also run the risk of respiratory disease during long-distance travel.
Any journey in a car, truck, trailer, boat or airplane of greater than five hours is considered long distance. Some of the effects of long distance travel on your horse include:
As pointed out by Mimi Porter, DVM, Equine Therapist, Lexington, Ky, "When the horse is faced with stress and copes with it successfully, he is better equipped to cope successfully again in the future. Thoughtful preparation can help him cope with stress and avoid fatigue or assault to health."
If you have any concerns about your horse's health, have your veterinarian give him a thorough physical examination during the week prior to travel. Chronic diseases may progress during travel. Also, delay your trip if your horse has had an infectious respiratory disease, such as influenza, during the two weeks preceding your trip. Prior respiratory disease will predispose your horse to developing pleuropneumonia. Try to make any feed changes two to four weeks before long-distance transport.
Other measures include:
What to Watch For
If you notice any of the following signs, call your veterinarian immediately.
As a wise traveler, you should arrange for a veterinary visit as soon as possible after arrival at your destination. Your veterinarian will be looking for signs of respiratory disease, dehydration, and colic and may recommend the following diagnostic tests: