Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of your first horse. It’s time to either move your new responsibility to a boarding stable or to your own farm. There are many horsemen who will haul your horse for a reasonable price. However, although they may be slightly higher in price, there are also many hauling companies nationwide that usually have very large horse vans that may be better equipped to move your new family member. Either way, the best advice would be to spend a little more money for a reputable hauler as they usually provide very experienced drivers.
If you are looking to purchase your own trailer for hauling, you have many companies to choose from as well as many different types. There are two, three, four and six horse trailers and so on. You can get the standard trailer with horses walking straight into the trailer, or slant trailers where the horses are loaded on a slant, or vans that the horses can walk up into and are backed into the stall, and basically they are facing each other as they travel. Keep in mind that hauling this animal is probably the most unnatural thing you will do with your horse. If you find that your horse is not good with hauling, then you must approach this problem carefully. Having a trailer with a ramp instead of a step up trailer is to your advantage in this situation. Some horses love to go for a ride, and of course, some don’t. Some horses will, with patience and a small amount of encouragement, enter a trailer fairly quickly. Some horses will be reluctant to leave their environment and their friends and will be much more difficult and sometimes become quite angry. In these cases, make sure you have an experienced horse person to help you. Sometimes it may be necessary to load another horse, who does not mind getting onto a trailer, temporarily, in order to convince the stubborn horse that it is alright to go on. As soon as the reluctant horse goes onto the trailer, you will have to unload the decoy horse quickly, lock and secure the ramps and doors immediately, and start on your way. Leaving a horse or horses standing in a trailer for more than a minute or two can be asking for trouble, especially with a horse who did not want to leave in the first place. This time frame goes both ways for getting them into the trailer, and getting them off as quickly as possible.
Some horses are claustrophobic and will be much more willing to load on a larger van. If you cannot get your horse loaded on a smaller type trailer, you may have to postpone your move to another day and consider a larger van as an option. Keeping in mind that a horse’s body temperature is higher than ours, normally between 101 degrees to 102 degrees, as horses will start to sweat quickly once placed in the trailer. As you move off, the air passing through the open windows in the trailer will help to keep them cool. It is a good practice to put shipping bandages on your horse, but by an experienced horse person, as bandages too tight or too loose are dangerous. Learning to bandage the legs of a horse is fairly simple and with practice, under experienced instruction, can become an easy task.
Driving a trailer or van is a very big responsibility, not just because of the equipment being used, but also for the precious cargo that is depending on you to get them to their destination safely. TAKE YOUR TIME. Going too fast and having to stop suddenly could be a disaster. Going too fast around the turns can cause the horse to be thrown around in the trailer and step on themselves causing injury to their legs or coronet bands, especially if they have shoes on or if their legs are not protected by shipping bandages. You always want each and every hauling experience to be a pleasant one. Also, make sure you have quality hay for them to munch on during their journey, either in a hanging hay rack or the hay sacks provided in the trailer. If you and your horse are about to head out on a long journey, make sure you have a water bucket and a large amount of water in a container so you can offer your horse water at stops every few hours. Remember, dehydration can be deadly.
In the future, I will be coming back to articulate on different aspects of hauling vehicles and problem horses that refuse to load. Patience and understanding is priority when transporting horses.