Picking a summer trailer that suits your and your horse’s needs is the first step to traveling during the summer. According to the University of Illinois (livestocktrail.Illinois.edu), all human travelers should consider providing their horse with a trailer that has maximum airflow ability. Why? In extreme heat, “the horse’s ability to cool itself by s sweating is significantly reduced.” Some options to keep in mind when buying a summer trailer for the summer include:
- Windows for maximum airflow
- Rubber floors that prevent heat form transfering to the horse
- white painted roofs (avoid aluminum–it makes it hotter!)
- double layered wall materials to keep the trailer cool
- Pop up vents
Make Frequent Stops During The Trip
Horses can lose 0.44-0.55% of body weight per hour during transportation (livestocktrail.illinois.edu) due to dehydration alone. When taking long trips, it is important to remember this so that frequent stops can be planned into travel time. every four to six hours, you should stop for a rest break. During this time, allow at least 30 minutes for your horse to relax and rest in the shade. If parked in the shade, the trailer’s interior temperature will also lower. Each time you stop, provide your horse with plenty of clean water and time to drink. If your horse is too hot, he might not want to drink. Try to encourage him to drink as much as possible during these breaks to prevent serious health risks.
Give Electrolytes Before The Journey
In a recent research trial conducted by Ohio State University, blood samples of horses transported in hot trailer showed suppression of the immune system (kppusa.com). In many cases, the immune system can be weakened by the lose of precious fluids and electrolytes. Much like humans after a workout, horses need electrolytes to keep themselves healthy and refreshed. When taking a summer trip in a trailer, horses sweat and lose these essential fluids. These lost fluids and electrolytes need to be replaced to keep your horse healthy. Before traveling, you can give dis-solvable electrolytes to your horse through his drinking water. You can also provide doses through a syringe or mix them into feed. However, these electrolytes should be given days before or the night before the journey– electrolytes can often cause your horse to drink less water, which would be a dangerous risk in preventing dehydration.
Keep Excitement To A Minimum
Just like humans going on vacation, our four-legged friends can get a little too excited or stressed while going on a journey to a change in scenery. Nervous horses can be much more difficult to handle and too much energy can cause your horse to injure himself. When transporting your horse, you can give him calming aids through nutrients like Vitamin B1, magnesium, and alpha-lactalbumin. Careful to never tranquilize your horse–this could cause more stress and health problems, especially related to dehydration.
The most important thing to remember while traveling with your horse during the summer is to provide him with plenty of shade, fresh water, and an appropriate trailer for the summer heat. The best way to have fun in the summer is keeping both rider and horse happy and healthy!