Hot weather can pose serious health problems for your traveling trail horse, including dehydration, heat stroke, and exhaustion. Here are 10 hot-weather hauling tips to help keep your horse cool and comfortable this summer.
- Stay tuned. A properly tuned engine runs cooler than a poorly tuned one.
Credit: Heidi Melocco
To avoid blowouts, check air pressure in all tires — including spares — while the tires are cool, before you travel.Maintain your tires. To avoid blowouts, check air pressure in all tires — including spares — while the tires are cool, before you travel.
- Keep spare tires handy. Carry two spares for your trailer and a spare for your tow vehicle. Make sure all tires are in good condition and that they’re properly inflated. Then, if you do have a breakdown, you can get back on the road quickly.
- Travel when cool. Avoid trailering during the warmest hours of the day.
- Use a GPS. Plan your route ahead of time using a global positioning system to avoid getting lost. Extra time in a hot trailer can put your horse at risk for heat stroke.
- Watch for dehydration. Carry a bucket, and two to three gallons of drinking water, per horse. If your horse won’t drink in the trailer, offer him water when you stop for fuel or at a rest area. Regularly check your horse’s capillary-refill time to evaluate hydration. You can do this through a trailer window.
- Vent the trailer. Promote airflow by opening all trailer vents,
and making sure they’re unobstructed. However, don’t allow your horse to stick his head out the window — this could lead to serious eye injuries from bugs and debris. If you become stuck in traffic, provide as much ventilation in the trailer as possible without unloading your horse.
- Monitor traffic conditions A traffic accident could cause you to spend many hours trapped on the interstate. To help avoid getting stuck in traffic, install and listen to a Citizens’ Band radio to alert you of accidents on the road ahead. If you hear of an accident, plan an alternate route.
- Use your phone. In metro areas, you can monitor traffic conditions on your smartphone. Enter “traffic” in the app store’s search engine. (If you have an iPhone, check out TrafficTweet, on which drivers enter updated traffic reports.)
- Park in the shade. Park in shaded areas and/or areas with some air movement.
Rebecca Gimenez, PhD (animal physiology), is a primary instructor for Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue (tlaer.org). A Major in the United States Army Reserve, she’s a decorated Iraq War veteran. She’s a past Logistics Officer for the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Veterinary Medical Assistance Team, which serves as first responders to ensure high-quality care of animals during disasters and emergencies. She’s an invited lecturer on animal-rescue topics around the world and is a noted equine journalist.