March Blog: How To Prepare Your Horse For Travel

Mar 23 2020

Preparing your horse for a trip can be a stressful time, thankfully the team at Majestic can help; once you are booked in, we handle the rest! Although we try to make the entire process as easy as we can, there are some tips we have to make this process stress free for your horse too.

Before your horses trip

As soon as you know you need to transport your horse you should give Majestic a call to discuss your needs – at least a week or two before transport is required. As we run our trucks on demand and not on set dates, by calling early and getting your horse booked in we can get your horse on a truck as close to your preferred date as possible. When you call and book with us, make sure you give us as much information as you can! This helps us to make sure your horses trip goes as smoothly as possible.

For example; if your horse is a tricky loader or has never trucked before, let us know and we can make sure we leave sufficient time in our schedule to take our time loading them. If your horse is a nervous or inexperienced traveler, we can try to make sure there is another horse on the truck prior to picking up yours. Perhaps your horse scrambles and requires extra space or they prefer to travel facing backwards. At Majestic we understand all horses are individuals that have different needs, we try our best to cater to individual requirements if you let us know when you book.

Our drivers generally travel alone and need someone capable to help load, if you have a medical condition limiting your handling capabilities or don’t feel confident; let us know and we can arrange for a second person to go with the driver to help load your horse.

Once you have booked with us and we have called to arrange pick up you can organize any gear you would like sent with your horse. It is important to note that we only take gear as a courtesy; so please do not send overly large or heavy items with your horse, our drivers have to be able to lift them in and out of the truck. All gear should be contained in a bag clearly labeled with the horse’s name. Saddles should have covers on them to prevent any scratches and it is important to note that all gear is sent at the owner’s risk. The only gear we actually NEED to come with your horse is a well fitted halter and a rug; if they are used to wearing one (although we can supply a rug if your horse is staying at our depots, just ask when booking). If your horse has special dietary requirements you can send some pre-mixed feeds with your horse and we can feed these.

If your horse has never trucked or floated before it is well worth investing in some training with a professional prior to us picking up your horse. Our drivers are very skilled at getting young, inexperienced horses onto the trucks but, horses that have had prior training will find this experience much less stressful. Also, prior training and preparation will give your young horse a positive experience which will install good habits for years to come.

Ensuring your horse is in good condition before they travel is essential. Underweight horses in poor general health will find the transport much more stressful on their body and will lose more weight, if your horse is in particularly poor condition, we have the right to refuse to transport them. Very overweight horses can be uncomfortable in a single space, so may require extra space (at extra cost to you).

Weight loss is normal during a long trip, this will be much more noticeable in young or green horses as they tend to stress more. If your horse is prone to stress or ulcers it can pay to use an ulcer medication such as Gastropel as a preventative, you can get this from your vet.

In-foal mares should not be transported long distances when they are due in a month or less, long distance travel is very stressful on a pregnant mare and can result in premature labor or loss of the foal.

Travel is hard work for your horse, intense work should be avoided the day before travel to allow the horse to begin its journey well rested. Ensuring your horse is up to date with all their vaccinations and other general care (farrier, worming, nutrition etc.) is essential, the stress of travel combined with the close proximity of other horses means your horse can get sick if they are not in tip top condition. If your horse is unwell, they should most certainly NOT travel. A sick horse will struggle with the the trip and will come off at the other end in a far worse state.

During your horses trip:

 Once we collect your horse, the hard work is done! Majestic will organize the drop off and provide full care during transit. But there are a few things you should know:

Tail rub is common during long trips if you want to avoid this you can supply us with a tail wrap. We are more than happy to put these on for you, but your horse must be used to having them taken on and off.

If your horse isn’t used to one it can actually stress the horse much more than if we just leave them with nothing. The same goes for float boots or bandages, we actually prefer to travel the horses without them as they are inclined to slip during long journeys and the horse can become irritated or worse; panic and hurt themselves.

We don’t like to travel horses with hay nets and there are a few reasons for this:

Horses lack head room if a hay net is tied in front of them, this means they are constantly breathing in dust and particles from the hay which significantly increases the risk of pneumonia and chest infections.

Secondly, horses cannot get their heads down to the ground during transit which means they cannot cough to clear their airways should something get stuck, this can be very dangerous.

Once horses arrive at our depots, they are offered free access to hay and water and are hard feed morning and night. Horses are put in a stable or paddock depending on their individual needs, they are here for a minimum of one night to allow them to rest before the next leg of their trip. Our stable staff and drivers monitor your horses’ condition during their trip, should they have any concerns you will be notified immediately.

After your horses trip:

Due to health and safety regulations our drivers require someone to be at the drop off point who is willing and able to help. We cannot put a horse in a paddock or stable for you if you are not there as we also need someone to verify that we are dropping off the correct horse. So, It is important that you organize for someone experienced to be there if you cannot be there yourself.

Once your horse has been delivered, they should have free access to good quality hay and fresh water. They can be a little stressed on arrival so its preferable if they go into a quiet paddock on their own to rest and relax. A minimum of a full day’s rest is recommended but, this rest period should be longer if the horse is young or found the trip particularly hard. Ensuring the horse hydrates itself after a long trip should be a priority. If they are reluctant to drink, you can try flavoring their water with apple juice, electrolytes or feeding a soaked feed such as sugar beet.

With the correct pre-travel preparation and attentive care during transit most horses step off the truck happy, stress free and healthy. A little bit of preparation goes a very long way in ensuring your horse has a stress free, easy trip.

If you have any questions, check out the information on our website or give us a call to discuss your horse’s needs.

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