Ten Tips for Travelling with Horses

Travelling with horses can be a stressful event not only for you but also your horse.
Equine Rescue Services estimates that an incredible 70% of the breakdowns it attends could have been avoided with a little pre-journey preparation and basic safety procedures.

Equine Rescue Services has compiled 10 essential travel tips for our members:

  1. Plan your journey
    • Loading your horse can take time and patience, especially if it is not a seasoned traveller. Don’t leave it until the last minute!
    • Schedule in regular stops. Use these stops to check on your horse’s wellbeing and offer it water.
  2. Essential Checks
    • Check your oil, water and fuel levels before setting off.
    • Ensure your transporter is in good repair – i.e. a non slip floor, good ventilation and high hygiene levels are crucial.
  3. Consider your Horse
    • Make your horse as comfortable as possible. Put down bedding or rubber matting and a full hay net.
    • Put your horse in the rear facing position as research suggests this helps to keep stress levels to a minimum.
  4. Supplies
    • Take extra water and hay in case you are delayed or breakdown.
    • In case of long delays, carry extra clothing for you and additional blankets for your horse.
  5. Watch your Driving
    • Take care when accelerating, changing gears and braking – do it as smoothly as possible to minimise discomfort to your horse. Remember, your horse can’t see where you’re going so is sensitive to sudden, jerky movements.
  6. Be prepared for any eventuality
    • Carry a basic safety kit. This should include items such as a human and equine first aid kit, torch, high-vis jackets, a warning triangle and a phone charger. Make sure you have the number of your breakdown assistance provider to hand.
  7. Check your horse’s health before and after
    • Check your horse is well enough to travel (a sick horse should not travel, unless it is to visit the vet or equine hospital). If in doubt check with your vet.
    • On arrival at your destination, your horse should show an interest in food and water within 24 hours. Check their temperature and watch for signs of injury.
  8. Know the Law
    • If you passed your driving test after January 1997, you now need to pass a separate test to a tow a trailer weighing over 750kg.
    • An overloaded horsebox is illegal. Drive your empty horsebox to a public weighbridge. The difference between the GVW and the unladen weight is the amount you can legally carry.
  9. Maintain your Trailer
    • Service your lorry or trailer annually.
    • If it has a wooden floor, check for signs of rotting.
    • Carry out basic checks such as brakes, lights and tyres every month.
  10. If you do breakdown…
    • Call your breakdown service provider.
    • Do not get the horses out of the vehicle.
    • If you are in a lorry, stay with your horse if possible. If you are in a trailer, then open the groom’s door, providing it’s away from the traffic and safe to do so.
    • Put your hazard lights on and put out a warning triangle.