Most of the journeys we make with our horses a relatively short, an hour of so to a competition or lesson then home again and though there is still lots to organise and think about to keep our horses happy and well, when your horse is going on a longer journey there are a few particular issues that need to be planned for.
We recently had a new livery arrive all the way from Switzerland so this little horse had two extremely long days on a lorry. Though we weren’t responsible for preparing her for or the travelling itself, I was to be responsible for her when she finally arrived here at KA Equestrian so I wanted to be sure we had everything ready for arrival.
SOMEWHERE QUIET TO REST
We know ourselves that travelling can be exhausting and it is the same, if not more so for horses too. They’re on their feet the whole time, negotiating their balance over different terrain and twists and bends that they can’t see ahead of time.
It’s to be expected that after a long journey, your horse will be tired and it’s great to be able to offer them somewhere quiet and comfortable to rest. A spacious stable with a big clean bed will be ideal but depending on the time and weather, a quiet paddock would be equally as good and allow them to stretch their legs.
FRESH, CLEAN WATER
One of the major issues you can have when travelling is dehydration. Try as you might, some horses are just reluctant to drink while travelling but of course, this is a worry with potential impactions being a concern. When they arrive at their destination, make sure there is fresh, clean water available to them at all times. Though we have automatic drinkers in all our stables, I like to turn them off and offer a bucket instead, this way I know exactly what they’ve been drinking. Some people like to add electrolytes to a bucket of water too, especially if the horse has sweated up in the lorry.
If your horses is showing no signs of drinking within an hour or so of arrival, you could consider adding a little apple juice to the water, sometimes the sweetness of the juice will encourage the horse to drink.
OPPORTUNITY TO STRETCH
Travelling in a lorry, often with a number of other horses means your horse won’t have the opportunity to stretch or scratch and they could really welcome the chance to have a roll and walk about.
Another concern about long journeys is that horses have their heads tied high for a prolonged length of time. Horses are designed to graze from the ground for the vast majority of their day and this allows mucus from the nose to come out. With their head tied up, that mucus isn't easily got rid of and can cause a number of respiratory issues that could develop into them becoming quite unwell. It is worth playing close attention to their breathing and if they have any nasal discharge over the next week or so and contact your vet if you have any concerns.
Overall, it’s a case of being pro-active and having everything ready for your horses’ arrival as well as paying very close attention to their breathing, eating and drinking habits, whether they are peeing and poo-ing as normal and how they seem in their selves. Just like when we return from a long journey, they should be back to normal within a few days.
As always, I'd love to hear about your thoughts on this topic, what are your experiences of travelling horses long distances? I'd love to hear from you!
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