Thursday, September 06, 2007

When Transporting My Horse, How Can I Improve The Transporting Experience ?

horseback riding

When Transporting My Horse, How Can I Improve The Transporting Experience ? By J. Foley

In order to encourage the horse to load it is essential that the transport environment and the
experience the horse has, is properly considered from the ‘horse’s point of view’.
The interior of a trailer or horsebox should:
be light and bright, preferably with some form of natural light
be solidly built to reduce vibration and swing
be roomy – horses need to be able to develop a ‘bracing’ posture
• contain solid, well-padded partitions that are half-height and not totally enclosing, with a
rubber skirt underneath – this will allow the ‘bracing’ posture and ensure the horse does
not lose balance
have plenty of headroom and space in front of the horse so it can lower its head
• have all furniture well padded – this includes a breast-bar at the correct height and a
breeching strap
• have non-slip flooring
be as dust free as possible, with good ventilation
• have a ‘solid sounding’ ramp (covered with matting of some kind) with spaced footholds.
Make sure the ramp angle is not steep and the step up from the ground is not too

It’s essential the vehicle is driven by someone with skill and experience – horseboxes and
trailers should travel slowly, especially around corners and roundabouts. The exception is
on a motorway, but be careful of sudden braking.
Horses should:
• be in excellent physical and mental health – if the horse shows any clinical signs of
infection, or is injured, seek your vet’s advice
• be offered ‘familiar’ water, or have been previously trained to drink flavoured water as the
taste of water can vary from region to region and inhibit drinking
• be well ventilated and well hydrated throughout the journey – avoid over-wrapping the
horse in blankets
• be transported with a known companion
Horses should not:
• be transported for periods of more than two hours without a stop. They should be
checked, offered water and rested as necessary when the vehicle is not in motion,
especially if expected to perform on arrival at the destination.
• be tied too tightly – this restricts head movement and can lead to a dangerous and
stressful experience.

Here are some reasons for loading problems :

Despite ensuring the ideal travel environment and conditions for your horse it is sometimes
the case that horses refuse to load into the transport vehicle.
The main reasons for this are:
inexperience – horses are naturally fearful of dark, enclosed spaces and often find ramp
climbing difficult
• fear due to an adverse experience
• pain causing problems with loading and/or transport
• lack of confidence in the handler – the handler does not possess the necessary
knowledge to teach the horse to load
• learned ‘misbehaviour’ – if the horse learns that certain behaviour is rewarded, for
example the refusal to load leads to being left at home with friends and food, it will
continue to have that response to the vehicle
There are no quick-fix solutions to loading and travelling problems. Patience and an
individual approach is always required. If you are having difficulties with loading and
travelling your horse, it is important to seek expert advice.

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Article Written By J. Foley