Long distance transport for the senior horse.
The details for preparing an old horse for a long journey are pretty much the same as for moving any horse long distance, remembering that the recovery time for an old horse is longer than for a young horse. Here are the steps to keep a horse safe and to make it a good experience. Let’s first talk about the things you shouldn’t do before going on a long trip. It’s never a good idea to clip your horse’s legs or vaccinate it a couple of days before shipping. How many times have we seen horses with sore legs from that cut. And of course, older horses have a higher chance of running a temperature after being vaccinated. If your horse requires a rabies certificate or needs new shoes, please do so several days before shipping.
On the day of shipment, especially when it’s hot outside, so it doesn’t stick to your horse. Even with mild dehydration, a horse can get colic from undigested grain in its system. Another note here, horses that are not good chargers have a higher incidence of ulcers. Transportation can be very stressful. Many horse veterinarians recommend medications such as Gastrogard to reduce the risk of ulcers.
We’ll spend some time here talking about you transporting your horse. Later in the article, I’ll have some ideas about what to expect from your senior horse if you ship it with a commercial carrier. Once you have successfully loaded your horse, one of the most important things you can do is make your ride comfortable. You shouldn’t have them tied up. This prevents them from lowering their heads and keeping their sinuses clear, leading to congestion and possible pneumonia. Next, bring enough hay that they have been eating. Just as we are careful to slowly change our horses from old hay to new hay in the barn, it is also important to be careful here and not change the hay, if possible.
I recently transported a yearling filly. The people where I picked her up went to the grain store and bought hay to go with her. It was not the hay she was used to and as a result, she had loose poop. It is also important to have water available for your horse. Most horses will not drink for the first 12 hours of transit. Particularly in hot weather it is important to have water in front of them. We hung a bucket of Foraflex and filled it halfway as we moved.
I recommend that you bring water to which the horse is accustomed. It’s not always possible, but just like hay, it’s important that they continue to eat and drink the same as they used to at home. It is also important to carry water with you in hot weather, if for some reason you are delayed in transit. The last two things to consider when moving your horse cross-country are the blanket in winter and rest. I encourage my clients to put a sheet under the blanket. That way, if the horse is a little upset and sweats, the sweat has a chance to move away from the body and not stay on the blanket and give him a chill. There are many ideas about resting the horse in transit.
One is to stop for an hour every four hours to let the horse rest. Recently, a study conducted at Texas A&M found that short rest periods were not effective. Because I transport horses alone, I need to stop every day for an eight-hour rest period.
This gives the horses a chance to rest, recover and rehydrate. They come out fresh from the trailer at the end of the trip. If time is not an issue and you want your horse out of the trailer overnight, I recommend websites like HorseTrip.com which lists horse hotels across the country.
I wanted to take a moment to talk about commercial carriers and how they operate. Most commercial carriers have two drivers, so the team never really stops moving. Horses never get a chance to rest and recover. Also many muleteers, never give the head to the horses, but keep them tied up. Horses often end their journey exhausted, dehydrated and even sick. There are many trucking companies out there that drivers are just that, drivers, not riders. They are transporting cargo, not horses. The other thing with long-haul commercial carriers is that they don’t take the most direct route. The most recent example I can give you was a haul I bid on and the person who bought the horse decided to get another hauler for the job because it was cheaper. What the carrier didn’t tell him when he picked up the horse in Georgia to go to New York was that he was going through Texas.
Two things happened here. First, the horse was coming from warmer to winter weather and should have been covered for the second half of the trip. And second, the trucker didn’t tell the customer that he wasn’t taking the most direct route. The horse was in the trailer three days longer than necessary, exhausted and sick. Too much to save a couple of hundred dollars for transportation. So when you need to use a commercial carrier, there are a couple of things you need to ask and get answered. First, it’s the most direct route possible, and second, you need at least three references. I What your horse reaches its destination. It’s important to give them at least one day off work to recover from the trip, and two days off work is even better. I also suggest giving them a full day to rehydrate and not feeding them any grains.
That’s it from here. Safe journey.