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 you and your horse will have a safe, enjoyable time.
Getting Your Horse Ready
Each horse will need a negative Coggins test, usually done within the past 6 months, for crossing state lines. Some states or competition sites may also require veterinary health certificates and/or proof of rabies vaccination within the past year.
Take some time to get your horse comfortable with loading, unloading and taking short trips in the trailer before you head out on a longer journey. Shipping is tiring for horses, who must constantly shift their weight and stance to stay balanced during the drive. It is the way you feel when you stand up on a subway train that is stopping, starting, turning and moving at various speeds. Most horses appreciate having hay in a securely tied net or feed bag to munch on during the trip. If a horse's head is tied, he cannot readily expel dust from his airways, resulting in a higher incidence of airway and lung infections. It is important to give your horse clean hay, and allow him to drop his head periodically at rest stops.
Make a list of everything you need for your horse's daily care, competition activities and emergencies. For example:
How to pack supplies depends on the type of truck you have (pick-up, sport utility, van, or suburban) and the design of your trailer (gooseneck, tag-a-long, dressing room). It is great if you have one empty stall in the trailer that can hold all the bulky supplies, but few have that luxury. Make sure that everything is secure – even tied in with spare lead ropes – so that nothing will come dislodged during transit and injure or scare your horse.
For more information, see "Traveling with Your Horse – The Trip Begins"