Hansma takes a proactive approach and makes a preliminary trip to the veterinarian's office. For his long trips, his vet usually administers approximately one gallon of mineral oil (through a nasogastric tube) to each of the horses. The oil acts as a lubricant, helping to keep everythingHansma takes a proactive approach and makes a preliminary trip to the veterinarian's office. For his long trips, his vet usually administers approximately one gallon of mineral oil (through a nasogastric tube) to each of the horses. The oil acts as a lubricant, helping to keep everything
Continued from May 21, 2008
The horse’s digestive tract is a serious concern for haulers, and both Wayne and Hansma have their own strategies for preventing colic.
"I keep alfalfa hay in front of them at all times," Wayne said. "That acts like a laxative, which keeps things moving along."
Hansma takes a proactive approach and makes a preliminary trip to the veterinarian’s office. For his long trips, his vet usually administers approximately one gallon of mineral oil (through a nasogastric tube) to each of the horses. The oil acts as a lubricant, helping to keep everything moving smoothly through the digestive tract. According to Hansma, this is one step that makes all the difference.
"If we’re going a really long distance, like to Vegas or the West Coast, I’ll have those horses oiled the night before we leave," Hansma said. "In the past, I’ve had young horses get off the trailer after a long distance and be a little colicky. That’s why we started oiling the night before."
Stick With the Routine
While some people advocate reducing or even removing grain fed to horses during hauling, none of the people interviewed for this article thought the approach was effective. In fact, the general consensus was that whatever you can do for your horses to keep them close to their home routine is probably more beneficial than removing or reducing their feed.
"Horses get into a routine," Hansma said. "And I hate to take one off their routine. I think the biggest problem you can get into with hauling horses is when they don’t drink enough water on the trailer. If you take their feed away from them, that’s probably going to throw them off schedule and probably make them mad. I give them their feed to try to keep them happy and keep everything as normal as possible. If they are happy and relaxed about the trip, they may drink more water, (which prevents) a lot of problems."
Get There Early
Both Milner and Wayne believe that when you arrive at your destination is just as important as how you get there. In fact, both seasoned haulers make sure to arrive the day before, giving their horses plenty of time to unwind.
"Once we get there, we’ll put them into a nicely bedded stall–give them their hay and water and let them settle in," Wayne said. "I think getting to a show early and letting them settle is important. I also want to maintain the same schedule that I have at home, so going to a show early–and letting them eat hay and drink and get feed–helps them relax. When I ride that first full day there, I’ll just do an easy ride. Nothing too hardcore."
"I’ve gone before where I just show up and show, but I think it’s better if you let those horses settle in," she said. "I try to get there the night before, even when I’m just going somewhere local. I think that helps the horses get comfortable and relax."
Schedule Strategic Stops
Sometimes it’s necessary to keep the horses on the trailer for an entire day. For example, if you’re making a drive across several states, you want to plan the trip effectively so you’re not wasting any time on the road. Milner, Wayne and Keller all agree that 10 to 12 hours is about the maximum amount of time that horses should be confined to a trailer stall.
"Basically, when we go to Oklahoma City from home, it’s about 1,000 miles. I’ll break that into two days of driving–lay over in Memphis the first night and finish the trip the next day," Wayne said. "If I’m going somewhere that’s 10 to 15 hours, we won’t lay over anywhere. But, we will stop somewhere midway for an hour or so. We’ll eat lunch and refuel, and the horses can rest during that time. And, we offer water several times during the trip."
Hansma, on the other hand, has a different approach to long trailer trips. Instead of planning a layover midway, he’ll drive straight through, opting to let the horses rest once he has arrive at the destination. However, he will schedule strategic stops along the way in order to give the horses some breaks.
"I try to plan my trips where I can stop a few times and just let the horses rest. Some of these horses don’t ride well and won’t go to the bathroom in the trailer while you are driving down the road," Hansma said. "It would be nice to unload, but that’s just not easy or safe when you’re carrying five or six head. It’s really hard to find a safe place to stop, so you’re just better off to find a place where you can park for awhile to let the horses relax. I just try to make sure the trailer is bedded down good and stop every so often."
While Wayne prefers to incorporate a layover in long trips, he echoes Hansma’s statement about the security concerns of unloading.
"Unloading would be great, but it’s rarely practical," Wayne said. "You don’t want to be unloading horses at a truck stop or rest area because you just don’t know what could happen. You’ve got to worry about people coming up to the horses to see them, or dogs running up and scaring one and all that. It just isn’t safe to unload most places."
Pull a Good Trailer
While Hansma, Keller and Wayne all provide safe, comfortable and roomy trailers for their horses, Milner has equipped her trailer to go the extra mile.
"In the summertime, we have a mister system in the trailer, and that helps a lot," Milner explained. "When they get out of the trailer their backs are just as cool as can be. I think that helps them feel fresh, too. I really try to think along the lines of what I can do to make my horses more comfortable."
In addition to the water mister system on Milner’s trailer, she has also installed cameras to monitor the horses throughout the trip.
"We have a camera in the trailer so we can see what’s going on," Milner said. "I’ve never really had any trouble, but it’s nice to see them."
Seasoned haulers point to the many improvements that trailer companies have made over the years.
"One reason horses haul so much better today is that trailers are made so much better," Hansma said. "The axles are better-the trailers ride much better now. When they changed the design from a straight load trailer to a slant load, I think that made it much easier on horses. It used to be that a horse was practically wedged into the trailer. Now, horses have plenty of room, which means they’re just going to be that much more comfortable."
Regardless of how you keep your horses happy in the trailer, it’s critical to identify what works for your horses. Once you’ve determined that magic factor, you can implement the necessary changes and get rolling with consistently safe and successful road trips.
Read Part 1. Click here.