It's easy to get complacent when shipping your horse, especially if it's something you do all the time. But whether you're sending him commercially or hauling on your own, following a few, simple rules of the road every time you travel will not only save you time and aggravation, it will ensure that your horse gets where he's going safety and comfortably.
Pack a sheet or light blanket to send along with your horse depending on weather conditions, and especially if he's clipped.
Wrap your horse’s legs if it's not something you do at home on a regular basis. This also applies to sending him in bell boots and other protective gear, such as shipping boots.
Alert your commercial shipper ahead of time if your horse needs extra protection or has a history of kicking in the trailer. He can prepare kick pads in your horse's stall in advance.
Send your horse in bell boots if he wears them often—and especially if he has a history of overreaching—so he doesn't pull a shoe.
Drive more than two hours without checking on your horse. If you're shipping commercially, ask the company what their break policy is, and also if their trailers are equipped with cameras.
Have a plan for safe loading in advance; keep the area around the trailer clear and inviting for your horse. If he's traveling with a buddy, lead the best loader on first.
(c) flickr.com/Joe Haupt
Get sloppy about your trip preparations or assume everything will work the same as it did last time. If shipping yourself, walk through your trailer to check for malfunctions and safety issues, and double-check tire pressure, blinkers and break lights, and your spare tire(s) before you go.
(c) flickr.com/Naotake Murayama
Plan your route in advance if hauling on your own so you can map out gas stations with water access along the way (you can always call ahead to confirm!).
Don’t send medications with a commercial shipper that cannot be given orally in a syringe.
(c) flickr.com/Daniel Johnson
Talk with your veterinarian about any questions or concerns you have relating to your horse’s health before he ships, especially for things like Cushings disease or a horse that scrambles on the trailer. If you plan on sending him commercially, make sure you are upfront about any medical issues or concerns with your shipper.
Grain your horse, or assume he will be fed meals on his trip. Instead, ensure that he has a well-stocked haynet and plenty of hay/forage for the road.