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Successful Long-distance Trailering, by Bob Jeffreys & Suzanne Sheppard



Bob Jeffreys & Suzanne Sheppard

Bob Jeffreys & Suzanne Sheppard

We’ve traveled across the country many times with our horses and would like to share some tips to make your journey a safe and enjoyable one. Start your trip at your kitchen table, planning your route, where you’ll stop and where you and your horses will stay each night. There are websites such as, as well as a couple of nationwide directories of overnight horse boarding facilities, most of which are close to hotels or are combination bed and breakfast plus horse facilities.
Before you start make sure your truck and trailer are ready: Check tires, floorboards and electrical connections. Bring your jack or Trailer Aide (a plastic wedge- like device that you drive the good tire up on in order to elevate the flat tire so it can be changed) tire iron (one that specifically fits the lug nuts on the trailer tires, as most pick up truck tire irons are too large!), flares and make sure everything is in good working order. It is so important you make sure your truck is safe for travel, as any issue can result in an accident on the road which may have a knock-on effect with other vehicles. If this does happen then truck accident attorneys are available, there is more info here about this, especially if you are certain you did a full check and it was not your fault on the road, so you’ll be able to argue your case as best as possible. Remember your first aid kit, which should include bandages, gauze, antiseptic and banamine or some other medicine for colic. Leg wraps or shipping boots are fine if you want to use them, but I find most horses travel just as well without them.
Your horses should be comfortable loading and unloading and familiar with riding in the trailer. We usually go about 500 or 600 miles per day stopping only for food and fuel. These 20 – 30 minute stops are really all the horses need as well. When you are parked this gives your horse a break from the hard work of balancing himself continuously, which he must do when the trailer is moving. We do not recommend unloading horses at these rest stops because too many problems can occur. Don’t risk it; plan on stopping each night to rest your horses instead. They need to walk, stretch, and be able to lay down every day, if possible. Because travel can be strenuous, we do not ride our horses on the same day that we’ve trailered for more than three or four hours. We plan on arriving the day or evening before the expo, clinic or trail riding getaway so that they can rest up and be ready to work.
Although many people do not believe in feeding horses on the trailer, we feed both hay and grain in the trailer, as we have conditioned them to accept flexibility in their feeding schedule on a daily basis back at home. Always have a five-gallon bucket of water with you so that you can offer them a drink at rest stops. Carry several containers of water with you. If you run out, you can usually find potable water at truck stops. In order to make sure our horses will drink different tasting water, we’ll put some Gatorade in their water at home before leaving and then flavor the different tasting water with it while we’re on the road. When it’s really hot, we carry a hose with us, hook up at the truck stop and hose the horses off while they’re standing in the trailer. Make sure your horses will accept being hosed before you try this. You might also buy a block of ice and secure it on the trailer floor to reduce road heat. Be sure it cannot work itself loose because loose items inside the horse compartment can cause major problems!
Many trailers have adjustable vents that will allow you to control air flow, which aids in ventilation, cooling, and elimination of ammonia fumes. We like to bed our trailer with shavings to absorb urine and manure, as many horses will refuse to urinate if they splash themselves. Try to use enough to absorb effectively, but without so much that excess shavings blow around in the trailer.
Take enough of your own grain along to complete the trip and have enough to mix with different grain at your destination for about one week. We also like to take alfalfa cubes with us to supplement their hay intake since you never know about the quality of the hay you’ll find along the way.
If we’re traveling and encounter an emergency such as extremely bad weather (tornadoes come to mind), and there is simply no place to safely unload the horses, we might let them spend one night sleeping in the trailer while we sleep in the truck. This is in emergency situations only, and we never ever allow our horses to stay on the trailer for two consecutive nights.
You’ll need a current Coggins test and a veterinary health certificate while en route. Traveling with your horses can be great fun” enjoy your journey!

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