June Blog: Common Problems When Transporting Horses & How To Prevent Them

Jun 29 2020

Transporting horses over long distances is not without its risks!  However, there are ways you can prevent and prepare for these problems before they arise:

Tail Rub

Tail rub is one of the most common problems that can arise with long distance travel. Even seasoned travelers can end up with a decent tail rub after a long trip. Some horses prefer to lean on the wall of the truck to balance themselves which unfortunately leads to raw rubbed tails. Large horses who don’t have adequate space can also rub if they are squeezed into a tight space.

There are a few ways to prevent tail rub before sending your horse away with us. If you know your horse tends to rub their tail send them to us with a tail wrap and we can put this on. Just ensure your horse is used to it first! You can also request a space and a half for your horse if you know they travel better with more room, we automatically give particularly large horses extra space if required.

Coughs and colds

Coughs and colds are particularly common in the very young and very old horses who may have a weakened immune system. Long distance transport has been shown to increase levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol. This means transport can weaken a normally healthy horse’s immune system.

Horses are transported and stabled in close proximity to other horses during their trip and While we will NOT transport a horse that is unwell there is still the chance for minor colds to be passed on. A lack of ventilation and dust can also cause horses to develop a cough due to inhaling dust, debris and bacteria so a well-ventilated truck/float is essential! The trucks at Majestic are all very well ventilated to allow fresh air to circulate during the horse’s trip. We also don’t feed hay nets during transport to prevent the horses inhaling dust and debris. Ensuring your horse is up to date with all vaccinations prior to their trip is essential to prevent the spread of coughs and colds. If your horse is unwell or has recently been unwell DO NOT send them. This will only worsen their condition and spread the illness to other horses. All of our trucks are fully disinfected and cleaned between trips which provides a sanitary and dust free environment for your horse and further prevents the spread of illness. After travel, monitor your horses’ attitudes and appetites and note any coughing or nasal discharge, if anything is noticed contact your veterinarian. If treated early,  minor coughs and colds can be resolved without too much time off.

Loading or unloading Issues

Issues with loading and unloading are common and there are a variety of causes; a previous bad experience, limited experience trucking or the horse’s general temperament are some.

To prevent issues with loading your horse the best thing you can do is prepare them. Regularly taking the time to train your horse how to load/unload and travel well on a float or truck will install good habits. If you do not have the time or experience to do this, enlisting the help of a professional is a worthwhile idea. Loading facilities make the world of difference for young and inexperienced horses and if transporting young horses and foals regularly a loading bank is a worthwhile investment. Majestic have loading facilities at our depots to make loading and unloading as easy as possible for your horse. It is also essential to give your horse a positive experience once in the truck, so ensure you only transport them in high quality trucks and floats. Majestic prides itself on the quality of their trucks and your horse is sure to have a positive experience with us and our experienced handlers.

Stress

Stress and anxiety is another common problem when transporting horses and is very much dependent on the horse’s temperament and experience travelling.

Ensuring stressed horses are kept with a calm “buddy” is a great way to calm them down. If two horses are going on the same trip we often try to keep them together at stop overs and next to one another on the trucks. If your horse is particularly prone to stress, you can supply us with their usual feeds to help minimize changes to their routine. Breaking the trip up with regular overnight stop overs also gives the horses time to rest and de-stress. Professional handling from our experienced drivers and stable staff also ensures stressed horses are handled and managed accordingly.

Colic

Horses experiencing changes in environment or workloads are at risk of developing colic. Paying special attention to horses when transporting them or changing their surroundings, is essential. Sticking to the horses daily routine as much as possible is a good way to reduce the risk of colic, as mentioned above, sending the horse with their usual feeds is a good idea if they are prone to colic. Dividing your horses feed into two or more smaller feeds a day avoids overloading the horses digestive tract, all feeds should be fed in a bucket to prevent the horse from ingesting sand or other contaminants. At our depots horses are hard fed twice daily and have hay readily available to them, the majority of their daily intake is roughage to keep them full and reduce the risks of both ulcers and colic while travelling. Clean, fresh water should be provided at all times during stopovers, this prevents impaction colic.

Cuts and scrapes

Most horse owners know first-hand that cuts and scrapes come hand in hand with horse ownership! Although many injuries that occur during transport are minor, occasionally more serious wounds that require veterinary treatment can happen.

To prevent injuries, your horse should be transported in high quality transporters: Internal surfaces of the float/truck should be smooth and free of obstructions/hazards that could cause injury ,Flooring of float/truck and loading ramps should be made of a non-slippery surface and if necessary be fitted with foot battens. Horses should only be loaded and unloaded by someone experienced. Float boots or bandages are useful for protecting the legs but must be fitted correctly and used with caution on long journeys; as if they slip and spook the horse this can cause serious injury. Educating yourself on basic equine first aid and packing a first aid kit is essential and is a good skill to have.

Overall, the vast majority of horses that are transported arrive safe and happy with no sign of injury or illness. However, the ailments listed above can happen so it is important to have an understanding of how they happen and what you can do to prevent them. If you have any questions about transporting your horse with us, the staff at Majestic are very experienced and can help answer any of your questions!

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