1. Get Familiar. Ensure your horse is familiar with loading/unloading and the environment on the truck or float they are travelling on. Minimising stress before travel is key.
2. Keep them Hydrated!! Ensure that the horse is hydrated and has been drinking adequately leading up to the trip.
3. Check your float or truck. Are the blinkers/lights working? Is there anything broken or sticking out that may injure your horse? Tire pressure ok? Have a standard check list that you go through every time you travel.
4. Avoid any unnecessary medication before travelling. A fundamental rule of travel – a sick horse loading, is even a sicker horse unloading. If your horse is sick, don’t travel!
5. Check their Head Space. Horses should be given as much freedom of movement of their heads as is safe. Restraint in the head up posture for prolonged intervals can severely compromise lung clearance mechanisms and predispose a horse to travel sickness. Hay nets should be placed as low as possible while still assuring that horses cannot entangle their feet in the net.
6. Rugs and Boots. Only place travel boots and bandages on a horse that is well season to them. Placing them on a young or unexperienced horse can be a hinder rather than a preventative
7. Let there be Air! Ensure that the truck or float is well ventilated. Air quality impacts the respiratory system, and can also cause havoc on a very hot day or bad weather. Good ventilation and air quality is vital for a comfortable trip.
8. Keep trips to a length of 12 hours maximum. After this period, horses should be rested to allow for tracheal clearance and rehydration.
9. Offer water on long trips. Horses should be offered water every 4-6 hours, or 3-4 in hot weather.
10. Avoid dusty feeds. Ensure horses have access to clean, dust free feed on long journeys
11. Keep it Clean! When stopping for water breaks, try to remove any manure or urine where possible. Excess ammonia in the air can lead to respiratory irritation.
12. Weight Loss. Be prepared that your horse may lose weight on a long trip. Horses can lose up to 20kg on an international flight and on average about 0.5% of their body weight each hour of travel.
13. Recovery – For 6-12 hour trips, a 1 day rest period should be sufficient. If travelling more than 12 hours by road or plane, a recovery period of 2-3 days should be given.
14. Monitor Monitor Monitor! – A rectal temperature should be taken at the same time daily in the lead up to a long trip. This allows you to take your horses temp during the trip and on arrival and be able to pick up any early signs of illness. Other signs such not eating, drinking or dull and depressed, could also indicate that the horse is not 100%.
15. Be prepared! Ensure that you carry an adequate first aid kit in case of an emergency, and always have on hand the veterinarians number that is relevant to your destination or overnight stop.