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What does a horse need for travelling?

Scottie in the lorry to have his injury investigated, towing, what does my horse need for travelling

If you are new to horse ownership or have never travelled a horse before, it can feel like quite a daunting process. But it really doesn’t have to be! In this post we will give you a handy checklist of everything a horse needs for travelling as well as some tips to help your horse travel better.

What does your horse need for travelling?

Everyone has different methods of travelling their horse and really, it all comes down to what works best for your horse. But there are a few things that every horse needs for travelling:

  • Leather Headcollar/Safety Headcollar & Leadrope
    Horses should always be tied up while travelling with a breakable headcollar. This is incase of an accident that the horse can free their head. A spare headcollar & leadrope in case of breakages is a must too!
  • Travelboots/Bandages
    Horses can easily knock themselves while trying to balance themselves while travelling, so they need some leg protection. Travelboots are quick and easy to put on and are designed for this job. But some horses struggle to find boots what fit them properly, in which case bandages might be better. Check out my Snuggy Hoods Travel Boots review.
  • Tail Protection
    Lots of horses rub their tails while travelling. Not only can this ruin the look of their tail, it can actually create sores. So using a tail guard or tail bandage is important, especially for longer journeys.
  • Water & Water Bucket
    Even if you are just nipping to your local show and back, you never know when you might get stuck in traffic or break down. Having some water from home and a bucket to offer your horse occasionally will help keep them hydrated.
  • Filled Haynet
    A haynet gives your horse something to do while they are standing there.
  • Horse’s Passport
    It’s a legal requirement for your horses passport to be in the lorry/car every time they travel. (Unless it is a veterinary emergency.)
  • Equine First-Aid Kit
    It’s not unusual for horses to knock and scrape themselves loading and travelling. So having a first aid kit will help you deal with any minor issues.

Other things you might need for your horse are:

  • A Light Travel Rug
    Horses don’t need big rugs to travel in, even in winter, many will be happy naked. But a light cooler or travel rug can help keep them a comfortable temperature.
  • Poll Guard
    A pole guard protects the top of their head. Tall horses or horses with high head carriage might benefit from one as it will protect them if they bang their heads on the roof.
  • Feed & Buckets
    You might want to bring your horses feeds if it is going to be a long day of travelling. It also gives you a moment to untie them and encourage them to stretch their heads down for a bit.
  • Treats
    Treats are great to have when travelling your horse. They can be a reward for loading and can help keep them distracted if you get held up somewhere and they have to stay on the lorry a bit longer.
Me taking Scottie's boots off arriving at the vets for his injury, what does a horse need for travelling

How do you prepare your horse for travel?

When horses have travelled a few times before, they can get a bit anxious when they know it is coming, even if they are good travellers. So I find it is best to keep their routine as normal as possible and get them ready to travel as late as you can.

For example, if you need to leave about 11am and they normally go out in the field at 8am, turn them out. You can then get all your stuff together. You can pack and load everything onto the lorry/trailer before hand. So all you have to do is prepare your horse and load them.

When you are getting your horse ready, do all the non travel related things first. Brush them, pick their feet out. If they are wearing a rug to travel put this on. Try and leave it so you put their travel protection wear on just before you load them. It gives them less time to get anxious about what is coming next.

Scottie is fantastic to travel. But he gets anxious when he has his travel boots on. So as soon as he has his boots on I walk him over to the ramp.

How can I help my horse travel better?

Lots of horses are nervous travellers, even horses who are out competing every week. This nervous energy can lead to them displaying “naughty” behaviours. These can include:

  • Tail Swishing
  • Pawing/Kicking/Stomping
  • Snorting/Neighing
  • Bucking/Rearing
  • Shaking
  • Sweating

Not only are all these things bad and potentially dangerous for your horse, it can often add to your stress levels, which can end up making things worse!

There are lots of things you can do to help your horse travel better. But most of them involve giving your horse positive experiences and keeping them occupied. Here are a few things to try if your horse isn’t the best traveller.

Spend time in the trailer/lorry

Let your horse get used to spending time in the trailer without going anywhere. This is especially important if they haven’t travelled before. You can start by loading them in without shutting the partitions. Maybe you can give them their dinner in their, maybe tie them up and give them a groom. Let them associate the trailer with relaxing things. Once they are happy being tied up in their partition, maybe you can practice taking them up and down the drive before really leaving the yard.

Practice loading

I think for a lot of us, loading is possibly the most stressful part of travelling our horses, especially if they are prone to being difficult to load. Practicing loading and unloading your horse at home, when you are not on a time limit and you have no where to be really helps. For most horses, this will reduce the issues you will have loading when you are going somewhere. Although some always seem to know when you are loading for real or just for practice.

Give yourself plenty of time

If you are stressed, there’s a good chance your horse will be too. So remove the stress of being late. Give yourself more time than you need to load and travel there. It really does make a difference!

Plenty of hay

Make sure your horse has plenty of hay for the journey there and back. Most horses will happily tuck into a haynet whilst travelling. This can help keep them distracted and happy.

Drive smoothly

Horses find it hard to balance while travelling, so drive as smoothly as you can to make it easier for them. Accellerate and break as smoothly as you can and go slower round corners than you would normally in your car.

All of these things combined will help give your horse positive experiences while travelling and should help them learn to relax more whilst travelling.

Last Updated on 06/01/2023

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