Travelling Horses: How to be Safe
In Queensland, it is quite common to have to travel horses to get to organised events such as pony club, agricultural shows etc;. Sometimes you will have to travel either twenty minutes to three hours or more depending on where you are travelling to. It is absolutely crucial to plan your journey ahead. Below are some tips on how to be safe when travelling horses.
Planning the route in advance can assist in making your trip a pleasant one. You need to understand the distance you are travelling, either twenty minutes down the road or a few hours. If the trip you are doing is a long one, you need to ensure you give your horse a break every three to four hours and offer water. Trips over six hours will require a break where the horse can be let off the float so that they can stretch their necks and eat. This is important in order to avoid Travel Sickness.
Risk factors for Travel Sickness include:
- Travel longer than six hours;
- Head tied up;
- Dusty hay;
- Vehicle exhaust fumes;
If your horse is showing signs of Travel Sickness you need to stop travelling, unload and allow the horse to graze. You need to seek Urgent veterinary attention.
Before departing, it’s crucial that the vehicle and float have been inspected to ensure that both are safe and roadworthy.
- All lights are working;
- Brakes are fully operational;
- All doors open and close and can be locked;
- All vents open and close;
- Float floor and ramps are checked;
- Ensure emergency brakes are working;
- Tire pressure to be checked;
- Spare tire to be accessible and tire pressure checked;
- Tools to change a tire on both float and vehicle;
- The tow ball is functional.
Emergency First Aid Kit
We are always told to expect the unexpected, so it's important to prepare for injuries. A first aid kit should always be easily accessible and should be restocked regularly. Essential items which should be included in a first aid kit are:
- Sterile bandage material;
- Adhesive wrap and tape;
- Leg wraps;
- Rectal thermometer;
- Antiseptic solution;
- Latex gloves;
- PVC tubing cut into lengths of 18 inches (emergency splinting).
When planning your route you need to take into account the temperature. Where you are in one place may be completely different to another. For example, if it’s very hot you won’t be packing extra rugs, but if it’s cold or wet you are most likely need to pack rain sheets or warm rugs.
Hot weather can lead to heat stress which can result in systemic failure and death. If you are travelling in hot conditions you can ensure full ventilation by having all windows and vents open. You should avoid rugging and protective leg wraps unless they have sheepskin lining, which allows for ventilation. Trips should be planned to avoid the hottest part of the day and to avoid heavy traffic.
Cold conditions can result in a horse who is travelling to become chilled, this can cause stress and respiratory illness. Even though this is less common, horses travelling in these conditions can be susceptible to respiratory infections. You should ensure that your horse is rugged and reduce the number of open vents and windows.
Travelling long hours in a float can be hard work, a horse will use a lot of muscle contraction to absorb all the stops, starts and turning which are trying to push the horse off balance. A young horse or an inexperienced traveller may not have yet learnt how to balance themselves efficiently. Once again, it is important to allow rest stops for each day of travel (8 hours). Before leaving your event, your horse will require time to rest and recover. Ensure that your horse has water and hay while he is resting.
Travelling can be stressful, both on you and your horse. By planning ahead, regularly inspecting your vehicle and float, always having a first aid kit, understanding the temperature conditions and by understanding your horses recovery you will be able to remain as safe as possible.