Horse Travel - 6 Tips For Keeping Horses Cool
Horse travel can be sweaty work! So, here are six horse travel tips to keep your horse cool!
Travel for horse owners is essential when competition season is in full swing. As hot summer days approach, keeping horse’s cool whilst travelling becomes increasingly harder. Whether you’re travelling to your next show, a session with your coach, or headed to the beach for a gallop, these tips are essential for combatting the heat and keeping cool during horse travel.
1.Check The Forecast
Although it seems habitual to most horse-owners, checking the weather forecast is the first and most important step when considering travelling during the heat. Knowing the maximum temperatures that will be hit during the course of the day, may make you rethink your plans. World Horse Welfare advise to avoid travelling during high temperatures. Additionally, extremely high heats may cause cancellations of certain events, so keep an eye out for cancellation announcements!
If you do decide to travel, travelling during cooler parts of the day may be beneficial for keeping your horse cool. Opting to travel in the early morning or after sunset, will ensure your miss the heat of the day, preventing your horse from becoming too hot.
Opening windows, to provide your transport with ventilation is recommended to keep temperatures down. Also, use of any sort of rug will make your horse hotter. Fore-go even lightweight rugs as they reduce horse’s natural ability to get rid of heat.
2.Plan Your Route
It is crucial to know the roads you are travelling on toward your destination. Horses can become upset by frequent bends and bumps in the road. Opting for routes which are straight and smooth, will keep your horse calm and relaxed, also providing a positive experience. Additionally, avoiding delays caused by traffic and road works will cut down on the journey time and ensure your horse isn’t in the hot, transport environment for too long. If you think you will need to stop on your journey, factor in where you will stop and question whether it is safe.
The AA's Route Planner is great to plan your route, and avoid un-necessary traffic.
Providing forage during journeys is a common practice during travel. Horses are trickle feeders, so allowing the access to forage is essential to keep their digestive system healthy. However, some forage in the digestive tract will also help retain water in the body. During travel, horses do not have ready access to water, so cannot drink when they are thirsty. Additionally, high heats and stress can cause horses to produce a lot of sweat. Sweat can account to up to 70% of water losses in the horse, therefore travelling can make them extremely dehydrated. Holding on to water, forage creates a water store which is essential to keep prevent your horse from dehydrating, until you arrive at your next pit-stop or destination.
When travelling it is recommended to stop every 4.5 hours. At this time, you should offer your horse water and scrape excess sweat off the body to ensure they are comfortable.
Bringing your own supply of water to events is advisory. Horses are fussy and often reject smells and tastes they don’t recognise. If your horse thinks water from a different source could be harmful, they won’t drink it. Wetting forage or flavouring water with apple juice could act as emergency alternative, if your horse doesn’t want to drink.
Stress can be a major factor influencing how much your horse is sweating. The more stressed your horse gets, the more sweat they will produce. As you have planned your route to be the smoothest journey possible, ensure your transport is too. Try not to break or turn sharply as this will put your horse off balance and could cause stress.
Additionally, keep calm when loading and unloading. This part of the journey is normally the most stressful time for the horse. Making it a good experience for the horse will ensure good behaviour when carrying out these tasks in the future too.
6.Prepare For Arrival
Upon arrival, seek shade! Parking your transport in direct sunlight will only make your lorry or trailer hotter, when you come to use it on your return journey. Often, you will be using the area around your transport as a preparation area. Standing in full sun means your horse will find it harder to cool down.
Once your horse is off the trailer or lorry, offer them water. Even if you have offered water during the journey, some horse’s will not drink until they are on firm ground again.
Cooling off is the next step. Applying cool water to horse horse’s body will help cool the surface of the skin. Additionally, the water will remove sweat which may cause discomfort to the horse. Scraping excess water off of the body after this is essential. Leaving large amounts of water on the body will make your horse hotter as it acts to insulate, much like putting another layer on. Removing the excess water will allow for the evaporation of the left-over moisture. The process of evaporation will also remove heat from the body as well.
Make sure you give your horse time to relax and adjust to their new surroundings before you ride. Check you have packed all the essentials, then grab the opportunity for a quick horsey-pamper session or get a bite to eat!
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Journalist and News Reporter, Everything Horse
Reporting on equestrian news stories, Abby also produces a variety of engaging content for the magazine.