By Neely Walker, PhD.
It’s summer and the opportunities for horsing around are endless! Horse shows, competitions, sales, and trail rides are just a haul away. However, the hot humid conditions of a Louisiana summer can pose serious health problems for your horse. Dehydration, heatstroke, and exhaustion are just some of the ailments that need to be prevented while traveling with your horse. Follow the hot weather hauling safety tips to prevent any detour from your summer fun.
- Avoid hauling during the warmest time of the day.
- Open trailer vents to create airflow throughout the trailer. DO NOT allow your horse to ride with his head out of the trailer window, flying debris and bugs can cause serious eye injuries.
- Stop and check your horse’s vitals and offer water every 4-5 hours. Each stop should last a minimum of 20 minutes to allow your horse to relax and rest.
- Park in shaded areas with air movement.
- Carry ample drinking water for your horse while en route. It is not recommended to leave hanging water buckets in the trailer while hauling. Sudden stops can lead to split water, slippery floors, and are a potential hazard to your horse.
- If you are stuck on the interstate, ensure as much ventilation as possible inside the trailer, without unloading the horses.
- Make sure your vehicle is in top towing condition BEFORE leaving. Make sure all of your tires (truck/trailer) are fully inflated, while they are cool before traveling. In hot weather, fully inflated tires flex less, therefore ride cooler, decreasing your chances of a blowout.
- Use two rubber mats on the trailer floor. This will reduce the heat on your horse’s legs.
- If your destination is more than 12 hours away, it is recommended to unload your horse and give them an 8 hour break from trailering.
- Make sure to have copies of all important identification paperwork (Coggins, Health Certificate, etc)
As always with horses, expect the unexpected. While you cannot plan for every situation, by taking a few precautions and practicing some common sense you can help ensure that you and your horse will arrive safely.