LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 30, 2015) – With winter making its grand entrance in many states and across Canada, having confidence your four-legged companion is comfortable during travel is essential. While horses are very comfortable in cold conditions, and most travel well in the winter, it is still a big question as to whether you should be throwing on a blanket or leaving it at the barn. There are a few factors that should be taken into consideration before you hit the road.
Hydration is one of the most important factors to consider when traveling with your horse. While a lot of us take extra caution of dehydration in the summer, winter is just as important and your best defense against colic. If a horse has on a few too many blankets, dehydration can set in quickly and cause problems. If you have a show horse and keep him under lights to prevent a winter coat, then blanketing at all times while outside is best. If you have a horse that is a regular in the pasture and resembles a wooly mammoth during winter, a blanket may be a poor choice as he can sweat and quickly become dehydrated. With that being said, there are many climates that no matter what your horse’s coat looks like, a blanket is a must due to cold winds. This is especially true if you have an open stock trailer.
Good trailer ventilation is a very important factor; any time of year. Since horses are prone to respiratory illness, toxic air can quickly fill your trailer if you have it completely sealed. Gases from urine and manure, hay dust and shavings, can all play a key role in threatening your horse’s health. Also keep in mind that body heat builds quicker while traveling and can create discomfort if there is no airflow.
If you are going on a long-distance trip, pack accordingly. Pack different types of blankets and sheets so you can change them depending on the weather. If your horse lives in a hot weather climate like Arizona, keep in mind that he is not used to colder weather and may require a heavier blanket earlier in the trip than say a horse from Minnesota. Some people go by the 35-40° rule. If it gets to or below those numbers, get those blankets on. Again, this is all depending on your horse’s coat. If he is body clipped or has a light coat, he should wear his regular blanket in the trailer, with full ventilation. If horses are in an enclosed trailer, a light sheet may be all that is needed, plus it can also act as a form of protection.
Be cautious of sweating as it can cause dehydration. None of us have time for that when we have places to go and horses to meet!
USRider – in its 15th year of operation – is the only company to provide emergency roadside assistance for horse owners. Through the Equestrian Motor Plan, USRider provides nationwide roadside assistance and towing services along with other travel-related benefits to its Members. The plan includes standard features such as flat-tire repair, battery assistance, lockout services, and roadside repairs for tow vehicles and trailers with horses, plus towing up to 100 miles. As an additional service, USRider maintains a national database that includes emergency stabling, veterinary and farrier referrals.
For more information about the USRider Equestrian Motor Plan, visit www.usrider.org online or call (800) 844-1409. For additional safety and travel tips, visit the Equine Travel Safety Area on the USRider website at www.usrider.org.