Travel wardrobe for your horse
As many of you are aware there are many views and opinions with regards to the full and correct protection to travel your horse to avoid injury. However in reality this is very different. Below are some practical recommendations and tips to take into consideration when planning to travel your horse up the road or internationally.
There are many travel boots on the market that can provide excellent protection for your horse’s legs whilst travelling. When travelling a young, field kept, unbroken horse you need to take in consideration that your horse may not be used to equipment on his legs, so wrapping him up with the very best travel boots, may cause him more stress than the actual journey itself.
If you would like to cover all eventualities and protect your horse is it strongly advisable that you spend time acclimatising your horse to wearing the protective equipment before they travel. We have all seen the typically erratic hind leg “waving” once the travel boots go on even on an accustomed traveller, so you can only imagine the reaction and distress when put on an unbroken, un-handled horse.
If you own a horse of the unshod feathered leg variety with a calm temperament, the lack of shoes and heavy feathers can often provide adequate protection.
For the accustomed traveller, travel boots are a good way to protect your horse’s legs. Please take into consideration the length of time the boots needs to stay on and in the correct place, as ill-fitting travel boots are prone to slipping which could cause your horse unnecessary distress. Travel boots need to be put on securely enough not to slip, but also to allow circulation to the limbs. Many styles of boots have Velcro fastenings, be aware that some noise-sensitive horses can have a reaction to the noise of the Velcro when fastening and unfastening.
Bandages, when fitted correctly can protect your horse whilst travelling, however there is a very fine line between bandaging too tightly to avoid slipping, but causing circulation problems. Bandaging too loosely can slip and cause a multitude of issues.
In many cases well fitting brushing boots and over-reach boots all round can provide adequate protection, and still allows the horse to move around and avoid additional distress.
Tail guard/Tail bandage
If you have ever watched a horse travel in the CCTV camera of a lorry they can some times rest their hindquarters on the back/side of the lorry. A large horse is more likely to do this than a small pony, due to the width of the lorry and size of the partition given for travelling.
Over a long distance this may cause the “bog brush” effect on their tails and sores.
Sores are caused from the combination of the weight resting on the dock and the friction of the horse moving against the lorry. To avoid the “bog brush” tail effect and potential sores we recommend a well-fitted tail guard. Tail bandages under the duress and friction caused whilst travelling are prone to slipping and disrupting the circulation of the dock. As with the travel boots, many horses are not comfortable having a tail guard/bandage put on or taken off, so if you intend to travel your horse with either, please acclimatise your horse before travelling and make sure that the equipment is fitted correctly.
In an ideal world we recommend travelling your horse in a leather head collar as these will snap under pressure should your horse become distressed, but do understand that this is not always practical or a financially viable option. Synthetic and “be nice” headcollars can be useful whilst loading and unloading especially for those young, nervous and/or naughty horses, but we do not recommend travelling your horse in these headcollars.
Poll guards can be attached to head collars to protect, especially tall horses from knocking their heads and or the horse that is prone to rear up. We recommend, if you plan on using a poll guard, that your horse is used to wearing the guard and is happy with his ears be handled especially by strangers.
There has been a vast amount of new technology put into the comfort, design and material of rugs in today’s equine market. However, when your horse is travelling in a lorry with other horses or on a private load, they create a lot of heat. LOC lorries are equipped with fans and ventilation which are vital in keeping the quality and temperature of the air within recommended DEFRA limits.
If you are planning on travelling your unclipped, field kept horse, we generally recommend no rug. For your fit, fully clipped, accustomed traveller a light breathable rug can keep your horse’s body temperature within comfortable limits. Once a horse starts to sweat they become irritable which of course leads to more sweating and loosing vital salts and fluids. If you travel your horse without a rug, then depending on the time of year we may would recommend putting a light weight breathable rug on your horse once he has been unloaded as the air outside will be considerably lower than the air temperature in the lorry, especially if they have become hot/sweaty during the journey.
These recommendations are provided to advise those unfamiliar with travelling their horses, however each horse is very different and the advice given is by no means limited to these recommendations. The main points to take into consideration are the comfort and protection of your horse whilst travelling. It can be easy and misconceived to go over the top with the protection and forget to consider the comfort of the horse, both are of equal importance. LOC can provide further advice if required.