As we plan to embark on our journey together, traveling with our horses, meeting at play dates, for trail rides, competitions, or other events, there is a lot to think about. Are you ready? Here are some tips to help you have a fun and safe adventure!
First, please be aware of your horse's current medical care and those requirements of the host farm or public facility. Please have your documentation handy! I try to have a copy of my horse's records both in the truck and trailer. And, if I travel with someone often, I have a copy of theirs and they a copy of mine in case we shared a ride.
- Have you signed a hold-harmless- liability waiver?
- All horses must have a negative Coggins report, ready to present before entering the play date grounds and before you unload your horse. Is yours handy?
- If traveling to out of the state, you will need a health certificate. Talk to your veterinarian about the requirements.
- It is recommended that your horses's deworming program is up-to-date. Some even consider deworming upon return from a strange place as a precaution.
- Vaccinations should be current. There are several vaccination programs available, speak to your veterinarian about what is best your horse.
- Be sure your horses feet are ready for the task you will be asking him to perform. (Shoes, hoof-boots, or barefoot!) You may even want a few farrier tools handy in case of an emergency.
- Finally, ask the host site if they have any special requirements, needs, etc.
Next, you should check your trailer and equipment for suitibility. This is a very important thing to think about.
- Check tire pressure & wear (both on the truck and trailer)
- Check your spare tires
- Check your brakes
- Check your floorboards for rot & cracks
- Check gates and latches for damage
- Check your hitch for wear
- Check your brake lights and turn signals
- Look for any sharp edges or rust holes
- Gas up before you load! (This may take weeks of saving money these days.)
- Mats on the trailer floor are in good condition
- Put bedding in the trailer to soak up any urine or horse manure -- it will help to keep the floor from becoming slippery
Other things to consider:
- Is your horse ready to even be trailered? If not, you need to prepare him for the journey first, before the event. Then on that day, play with him before you load, don't just throw your horse on the trailer!
- Shipping boots or wraps (optional)
- Map of where you’re going, noting parking areas for trailers (Even consider doing a pre-visit to prepare yourself for the actual event).
- Clothes appropriate for the weather that’s been forecasted
- First aid kit for you & the horse (in the truck)
- Bring a tool kit
- Bring a flashlight
- Bring road cones
- Bring flares
- Bring extra fuses (I changed my friend's once when she was at my house and her lights stopped working and she had to drive home in the dark.)
- Tack and equipment for the event - saddle, bareback pad, natural hackamore, bridle, etc. (be sure it is all in good working condition)
- Halter, leadline, carrot stick, savvy string, 22 foot rope
- An extra savvy string in your pocket or on your belt loop
- ASTM approved riding helmet
- Appropriate footware
- Fly spray for the horse
- Insect repellent for you
- Sunscreen (Bug and Sun is highly recommended by a friend of mine)
- Grooming box
- Horse treats
- Grain (optional)
- Water & hay
- Buckets & hay net (Don't share people's buckets, this is asking for trouble. You don't your horse to spread or catch anything.)
- Cooler with water & snacks for you (Kashi bars are great for a long ride, lots of protein and your horse will want one too!)
- A friend or cell phone – let someone know where you’re going & when you expect to be back or have a buddy with you!
- Hat (for when your helmet is not being worn)
- Fly mask (sheet optional)
- Muck bucket and shavings fork--clean up after your horse! Haul in, haul out--leave no trace (of you or your horse ever being there.)
- Put a sharp pocket knife in your truck in case you need to cut off a halter in an emergency
- Have an extra halter and leadline in the TRUCK for each horse in the trailer in case of an accident.
- Whistle on a lanyard to call for help if you are hurt or in danger (be sure your horse is ok with this being blown if you think you'll use it while on him)
- Portable corral
Finally, have a plan, bring anything else you are asked to bring, and prepare for fun. Play with the horse that shows up, be flexible, and support others on this wonderful journey.