Horses are one of the most popular animals of the country and kept for many purposes. There are over 300 types of horse breeds that are considered to be a big investment due to care, housing, and expenses. According to research and data collection, there are close to 9.2 million horses in the country, and more than 4.5 million people are involved in the horse business. Horses are known for their amazing strength and used for numerous purposes such as in carriage for transportation, in farms and ranches to control the herd of sheep or other farm animals, and also for racing.
Horses like other animals always need to move and walk from one place another, but it is relatively a short distance such as within the ranch or specific area of the farm. However, horses do need to travel long distances when there are needed to participate in a horserace, for breeding purposes, change of owner, to attend a trade show, or when visiting a vet. There are several reasons why a horse needs to travel, and every step must be considered and taken to ensure the safety and comfort of the animal.
Horses are known to cover long distances easily but if one horse is not experienced to travel for long distance than it can easily get fatigued, injured, dehydrated, and take the stress which is not good for its health. The horses are usually transported in special trailers that get attached to a car or big truck. Traditionally, horses were loaded in large boxes and then placed on boats and ships, but the complete activity put the horses in tremendous stress and discomfort. Then trains were used to transport horses from one place to another, and then as transportation vehicles got advanced, special trailers were designed and developed to load and carry the horses.
Today, modern iron horse transportation trailers are developed considering various factors such as
- Loading and unloading of the horse into the trailer
- Handling of the horse
- Constant vibrations
- Differences in temperature
- Times when horses need to urinate
- Availability of water and food
- Presence of any exhaust fumes
- Ventilation of the trailer
Loading the horse is the first and also the most crucial step in horse transportation. According to studies, the loading process is quite stressful for the horse as its heart rate increases more than normal. The studies also suggest that the stress is increased the more the steep the loading ramp. The horses are big animals and also not comfortable when entering small or confined spaces such as the trailer. But with regular training, the horses can adjust to be loaded and unloaded into the trailer. Training a horse to walk through the ramp into the trailer needs patience and proper preparation.
The horses should never be rushed into the trailer as the horses do not like to be forced to walk on a ramp that leads into a confined space. It is better to have a couple of people who can handle the horse if it gets aggressive. In the first attempt, while loading the horse, you should consider all the safety measures once the horse is loaded and go for a short trip so that the horse gets used to traveling inside the trailer. By taking short trips for a couple of days, the horse will adjust properly and can then easily be taken for longer routes. The traveling equipment that is needed to ensure proper horse transportation includes
- Leg protection
The legs are the most important organ of the horse, and utmost care should be given to the horse’s legs. The protection accessories include travel boots and bandages. You need to see if the boots fit accurately or not and how to apply bandages to wounds
- Head collar
It is necessary to let the horses wear a head collar that fits its head, and mostly leather material should be used as it can easily be cut if the horse is involved in an accident
The most important item that you need to put on a horse is a rug which is a high quality cloth that is draped on the back of the horse’s body. The main purpose of the rug is to protect the skin of the horse from rubbing against the walls of the trailer. The horses are also tied inside the trailer with enough rope length to help them move around.
- Poll guard
The purpose of the poll guard is to prevent the head of the horse to get injured when the horse gets uneasy and unsettled.
A hay bag should be placed inside the trailer when the horse is ready to be loaded and transported.
- First aid kit
The first aid kit is a necessary belonging which should be kept in the vehicle by the driver. The first aid kit is used to keep gauzes and bandages that can be used when there is an accident, and the horse gets injured.
The horse should be given an adequate supply of food and water during the journey so that the horses do not get dehydrated due to the heat in summer months. In considerable heat, it is recommended to make constant breaks after every half or one hour and check on the horse as heat in a confined trailer can be troublesome for the horse.
The trailer should be airy and light and allows maximum headroom to the horse and allows it to stand up and sit with ease. The flooring should be non-slip rubber with padded partitions, and the ramp should have a rubber surface. The one hour of trailer travel is equal to the same amount the horse would have covered on foot, which means that the horse may arrive at the destination stressed and exhausted. Tiredness and stress can cause the horse to get sick with a fever or other illnesses. The horse is a loyal and strong animal, but proper steps must be followed to ensure its proper health, particularly when traveling.
Linda Clarke is a trained horse caregiver and often writes for an online magazine on the care of horses. She emphasizes on iron horse transport when a horse needs to be transported from one place to another.