Cold Weather Hauling
Trailering your horses during the winter months or colder temperatures is not all that different from trailering them any time of the year.
- Make sure your trailer is safe:
- check tire pressure (colder weather can affect tire pressure significantly),
- ensure all interior and exterior lights are in working order,
- check to be sure all door locks and latches work properly and,
- make sure that your hitch is properly connected with safety chains, and the break-away cable is connected to the tow vehicle.
- Make sure all current health certificates and proof of negative Coggins paperwork is properly stored in the tow vehicle.
- Carry emergency contact numbers for yourself and your horses, and keep in a visible place.
- Carry an emergency first aid kit and know how to use it.
- Carry simply veterinary supplies appropriate to the length of the trip.
- Learn to monitor vital signs of the horse.
- Carry a truck/car emergency kit. During the winter months, this kit should include a shovel, sand, red flag, horse blankets, human blankets, candle, matches or lighter, tire chains. Keep in mind that your trip may be longer than planned due to unforeseen circumstances. You may have a mechanical breakdown, get caught in a traffic jam, or you may simply get lost. (For more information, read "Don't Go on the Road Without it - Emergency Check List")
In cold weather, just like the warm weather, it is critical that the trailer is well ventilated. EquiSpirit Trailers are designed to allow for the utmost ventilation by providing multiple windows with screens and roof vents. The tendency may be to close up the trailer in colder weather. However, that can cause issues, so we encourage that roof vents be open, and a strategic choice of windows be open to help keep the air cleaner and cooler in the trailer. Horses can be very prone to respiratory illness, and a trailer that is not properly ventilated becomes filled with toxic air from the hay dust, shavings, and any gasses from urine and manure.
Hydration is another concern for your horses and is just as important in the colder weather as it is in warmer weather. Dehydration can be a common cause of colic. Horses can become dehydrated even during the winter if they do not drink or they lose water through perspiration.
One aspect that is of concern when trailering in colder temperatures and can affect the health of your horses is the decision of whether to blanket your horses in the trailer. Each horse is different, and each situation is different so using common sense when making this decision is the best way to go.
- Dress the horses according to the situation. If they have a full winter coat and don’t wear a blanket when in the barn or turned out, they probably don’t need a blanket to take a trailer trip. Open the roof vents, and a few windows in the back, so the air does not blow directly on them.
- If your horses are body clipped or do not have a heavy coat, then they should wear the same weight blanket that they would normally wear, and vents and windows should be open as well.
- The general rule of thumb - horses should be kept cooler rather than hotter. Keep in mind that when horses sweat and put out a lot of body heat, the trailer warms up too.
This time of year, many folks head south with their horses, moving from colder weather to warmer weather during the trip. Again, common sense is your best friend. Depending on the length of the trip, you should be checking your horses’ multiple times during the trip so you’ll be able to monitor them for overheating. It’s best to have blankets/sheets of different weights readily available to change during the trip if necessary. Finally, during a long trip, it vital to make sure the horses drink plenty of water. You may not realize that they have been losing water through sweat under their blankets or heavy winter coats. Also, if they sweat too much and get wet, they could get chilled.
In the end, remember that most horses are very comfortable in colder conditions and most will travel well during the winter. Proper planning and a properly designed trailer with adequate ventilation are critical to your horses’ health.
Think Safety – Think EquiSpirit!
This horse trailer safety article is provided by EquiSpirit Horse Trailers.
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