Anytime a Horse is loaded into a trailer, whether for a short trip or long trip, these fundamental measures should be taken:
- Train your Horse to load calmly and to accept the trailer as non-threatening. The best defense against injury and illness is good training.
- Make sure your horse trailer is safe. Once a Horse has been trained to trust you and the trailer, don’t let it down.
- Drive Carefully. Remember you have live cargo in the trailer – drive accordingly.
- Make sure all inoculations are current. Current inoculations will protect your Horse from exposure to other Horses.
- Wrap all four legs. Just walking into a trailer can result in injury if the horses scrapes against something, so wrap legs every time your Horse gets on the trailer.
- Make sure trailer is vented. Horse are very sensitive to dust and noxious gasses; i.e., ammonia from urine and manure.
- Carry an emergency first aid kit. Keep it in your horse trailer and make sure it is always ready and up-to-date.
- Learn proper first aid techniques. Learn how to bandage wounds in various locations, control blood loss, and learn to recognize the signs of dehydration/heat exhaustion, and colic.
- Learn how to monitor vital signs in the Horse. If your Horse is sick or hurt, you can give the veterinarian current vital signs via telephone.
- Carry backup supplies appropriate to the length of the trip. Keep in mind your trip may be longer than planned due to unforeseen circumstances.
- Carry a medical ID. If you are incapacitated in an accident, it can be important to contact someone who knows you and your Horses.
Neva Kittrell Scheve is the author of The Complete Guide to Buying, Maintaining, and Servicing a Horse Trailer and Hawkins Guide: Horse Trailering on the Road. She and James Hamilton, DVM, co-authored Hawkins Guide: Equine Emergencies on the Road.