Horses are naturally fearful and flighty animals and can be subject to stress for many reasons. One of those factors may be travelling. Travelling can be stressful for any animal and horses are no exception.
If your horse has not travelled previously, this can be a daunting experience for them. Reducing stress for your horse whist travelling is important to ensure they maintain optimum health. The more comfortable your horse is during transit, the less likely they are to get stressed.
Common signs that your horse may be stressed include:
- Tail swishing
- Rearing and bucking
To manage your horse’s health and keep them calm during travel, here are some top tips to follow:
This can be especially important if your horse has not travelled before. Prepare the journey and be sure you know the route to prevent your horse being in the trailer longer than necessary. Practicing loading and unloading before the event will also help to reduce stress for your horse and yourself. Careful management during travel can help to reduce stress for your horse and you as their owner.
Get your horse used to the trailer
Training your horse to get used to the trailer prior to travelling can help reduce any stress on the day. You may want to load your horse in the trailer whilst it is static and you could take your horse on short drives to get them used to the motion of travelling. This will help to reduce stress during the main journey.
Check their health before travelling
You may get your vet to check over your horse prior to travel. It is advised that a sick horse should not travel at all. Make sure your horse is vaccinated.
Provide plenty of hay
Not only will this ensure he has something to eat, it may also be a good distraction during the journey. Hay can help to buffer your horse’s stomach from the stomach acid that is created by stress.
Keep your horse hydrated during the journey. It is advised to offer water every 3 hours during travel. If you are travelling on an especially hot day, be sure to offer water more often.
Stopping for breaks during travel can provide an opportunity to give your horse water. If travelling for more than 8 hours, it is advised to schedule an overnight stop to allow for your horse to be unloaded and get some quality rest before continuing.
Keep checking your horse
Keep an eye on your horse during the journey and look out for any signs they may be getting overly anxious or stressed.
Leave time for loading
Even a well-travelled horse could still refuse to be loaded. Leaving plenty of time to load and unload your horse will not only reduce stress for yourself but also your horse.
Driving carefully may help to reduce any stress for your horse. Whilst driving, make sure that you come to gentle stops and always accelerate slowly to keep your horse comfortable.
Keep your horse comfortable
Make sure that your horse has plenty of room in their trailer to feel comfortable and move around, but not too much. Keep blankets to hand during colder months.
Horse calming products
Ask your vet about nutracalm, which is specifically formulated to naturally calm anxious and excitable horses and help to reduce unwanted behaviour.
To help reduce any stress for your horse whilst travelling, ask your vet about horse calming products like nutracalm, they will be best placed to offer advice dependent on your horse’s health needs.