View Full Version : When trailering, at what point/hour do you determine you should stop/overnight?

Dec. 23, 2009, 11:38 PM
I am moving and events will be twice as far away now (or more). I don't think I've ever trailered more than 5 1/2 hours to an event and most have been within 3 1/2. I know some of you travel much farther.

I'm just curious, at what point should I try to break up the trip? Do any of you find a stopping point/paddock to borrow for a couple of hours then reload? When do you determine the need for an overnight?

I know it may depend some on what time of day you are leaving, but as far as your horse is concerned, what are your opinions? (My mare trailers well, but does not eat on the go.)

Also, for long trips, do you offer water at certain intervals? We've always offered it when stopping for gas, but most aren't interested.


Dec. 23, 2009, 11:56 PM
Hey! This is Mandy, actually. Used to ride LB for Michelle :) I can't help you on the overnight trips and I have limited experience in this, but I've taken a 7 hour (to Lexington, KY) and a 10 hour (to Lexington, VA) before. We'd stop about every 3 hours and offer hay and check wraps (through windows). As far as water goes, Trey won't drink on the run either. So we did two things:

1) We soaked his hay on the trip. Mainly so it wouldn't fall out of the bag. He likes to pull it out before the trip even starts... and then he's bored. Silly pony.

2) We gave him apples, carrots, and just things will a lot of moisture in them. I'd dip them in a water bucket before. Sometimes, if we were lucky, I'd put some extra hay in the water bucket, and he'd drink that way.

I know Sweetie doesn't eat on the go, but maybe #2 might help? Anyways, I hope she's going well for you! Let me know if you're ever at Poplar! It's only an hour away from me, and I love a good pony fix.

Dec. 24, 2009, 12:41 AM
We travel a lot. All of the events that we frequent require endurance behind the wheel.

We offer water at each stop, but our horses usually won't drink until they have been on the road for 6 hours or so. We carry plenty of water along with us either in 5 gallon jugs or in a 25 gallop tank in the midtack.

We feed on the go. We fill the mangers with hay at each stop and they also begin each day with soaked beet pulp and their usual morning feed.

We change drivers frequently to keep everyone as fresh as possible.

We have our favorite overnight stopping places and try to stop and off load at about 500 miles. We prefer to travel in the daylight only, due to some unfortunate experiences that we have had driving at night. We got graped in CA once and it was a near death experience. That story is in an old thread here.

We do like to arrive at the overnight places in the daylight so we sometimes have to leave in the dark for that to happen. Sometimes the day gets dragged out if we are racing bad weather. We have hauled straight thru from KY to ID, but only when there is no choice.

Our experienced horses are troopers about the traveling and the new ones take their lead from them. We have one who "pretends" to drink at every offering, but in reality only drinks about every other stop. We try to put the newest traveler next to him.

If the event is more than 15 hours away, we like to break the trip down into 2 legs. We often stay over after the event, leave early, and get home in one go.

The roads are dangerous and we have had more than a few of scares, one totaled truck and trailer, a few near misses. Be carefull, stop when you get tired, and drive rested.

Dec. 24, 2009, 01:56 AM
I haven't done any overnight stops, so I have no recommendations there.

The haul from home to school usually takes 10-11 hours or so depending on traffic and roads. We always do it in one day and have never had a problem. If we're expecting it to be hot, we try and time the trip so that the hottest stretch (usually in Eastern/Central WA) is in the mid-morning- which requires leaving pretty early.

I usually offer water every other stop or so unless it's really hot. My horses have never been big drinkers on the road, but I offer it anyway. As someone else suggested, I bring along snacks for the horses like carrots and apples. Granted there isn't a ton of water in them, but I figure it's better than nothing! I cut the apples/carrots up in the morning and put them in a bucket in the container in the tack compartment that's filled with water. Not sure if they actually absorb any extra moisture, but it doesn't hurt either way.

They always have hay bags- usually a combo of grass and alfalfa and if the hay bag is running low I'll refill along the way. Most of them will munch during the day, but don't always eat a ton.

Dec. 24, 2009, 06:45 AM
I try to stop only if I'm too tired to drive. Otherwise, push on through. Yes, lots of water offers when I get gas, constant hay available but I really think pulling them down and acclimating to a new place can be harder than just riding along in the 'zone'. That said, Maine to Aiken is a verrry long drive in a 2-horse GN. Last time I drove the boys I stopped over night in Virginia, which was about 15 hours into my trip.
Going to a distant event, I'll plan to arrive a day early so my horse can rest, stretch, graze, hack, hopefully get his legs UNDER him before he has to go down center line!:eek:

Dec. 24, 2009, 06:58 AM
I am moving and events will be twice as far away now (or more). I don't think I've ever trailered more than 5 1/2 hours to an event and most have been within 3 1/2. I know some of you travel much farther.

I'm just curious, at what point should I try to break up the trip? Do any of you find a stopping point/paddock to borrow for a couple of hours then reload? When do you determine the need for an overnight?

Also, for long trips, do you offer water at certain intervals? We've always offered it when stopping for gas, but most aren't interested.


Very expensive study done a number of years ago by the Food and Ag people bottom line results were horses could sustain 20 hour trips without ill effects (healthy horses) the most stressful times (heart rate increasing) were loading and unloading so was recommended that unless you were stopping to unload overnight (or all day) ie: about a 12 hour period was best to let horses stay on trailer and rest most will eat and drink if you give them a half hour of the trailer being parked. Most people think their horse will not eat or drink because they offer water and food right after stopping but you need to give them 15 min to half hour for them to settle to want to drink.
Hope this helped.

Dec. 24, 2009, 07:48 AM
I've trailered 12ish hours (Rochester to Raliegh) 4 times roundtrip at least now - no over night stops. Just a 15-30min rest everytime when we stop for gas, offered water (never took any that I recall), all the hay he could ever want. He trailered perfectly everytime, and did not have any ill after- effects. He was also older (18-20), and was not even stiff after the ride. We also trucked over night (mostly to avoid heavy traffic, especially through DC). Although he was older, he was in excellent health and in great shape.

Dec. 24, 2009, 08:27 AM
We will usually stop and stay overnight on any haul that would be over 13-15 hours. Driving straight through on those hours, stopping every 3 hours and offering the horses something to drink, with a 45min-1 hour break at 6 hours to just let the horses stand for a bit, has worked quite well.

For all of you out there having trouble getting your horses to drink water.......PUT APPLE JUICE IN IT!!! They love it and most of them will always drink it. I mix about 1/4 apple juice to 3/4 water and just stick your hand in there mouth with some of it, once they taste it they have no problem drinking. I used to have some horses that would never drink just water on the road, even on those 15 hour hauls, but once the apple juice got in there ....No problem!!!

Dec. 24, 2009, 09:48 AM
Another way to get a horse to drink on the road-

When I was a WS, we fed our horses soaked oats with their grain. When we traveled (and most all events are 3+ hours from middle TN), we would put their oats for the next feeding in a small bucket filled 1/2 way with water and then put that bucket inside a bigger bucket to keep it from sloshing too much. The oats float to the top, so we offered the horses the water with oats in it when we stopped. Everyone loved to bob for the oats, and they got alot of water when they did. We had one chubby boy that would drink the water down quickly so he could get to the food more easily! My guys don't eat soaked oats anymore, but I will still do this when I am going on a long trip to get them to drink.

Dec. 24, 2009, 10:37 AM
Can't offer any advise on long overnight hauls as I'm spoiled in Area II and don't have to drive too far.

But whenever i have to stop for gas i check on the ponies...give more hay, etc. except none of my horses will drink out of buckets on the trailer. The only way i can get them to drink is using a water bottle, and letting them drink it right from the bottle.. if they still dont want to drink this way, you can at least stick the bottle in the corners of their mouth and get their tongue/mouth wet (my ponies won't even eat treats on the trailer)

Dec. 24, 2009, 10:52 AM
My horse won't eat or drink in the trailer. The farthest I've had to trailer him would have been 10h+ straight, so I overnighted about 7 h from home, and 3 h from Lexington, KY. On the way back we stayed at the same place. I gave him Gastrogard to prevent ulcers from stress, and he traveled well, competed well, and spent 3 days of intense Pony Club clinics during the 10-day stay at KHP, returning home in good condition. We were lucky to have found a PC family willing to take us in for the night and provide him rest in a pasture with access to a stall. He was able to stretch his legs, graze, rest and arrive feeling pretty good for PC championships. Since I was the only driver, I wouldn't want to drive for 10h straight each way. On the way back we had a flat tire in the trailer, if I had had to drive straight home it would have been a very long haul!

Dec. 24, 2009, 01:04 PM
I'm in Texas and we drive a long way.
And always straight through.

The futherest so far is Maui Jim in IL. It's 18-19 hours.

The buddy I go with is from NM and she has been traveling hours and hours her whole life.

She actually stops every 6-8 hours and unloads. Lets her horse walk around, eat grass and such. She has a nice big oversized trailer so the horses have a ton of room.

I was really creaped out by the stopping at first but I have a quiet horse and he was just fine.

They all eat hay and drink just fine.

We always leave Wed night to arrive Thurs. daytime. It's eaiser to hit the darkness 1st and then be driving when the sun is up for the last hours. We have always had three people to tag team drive and we live on Cherry Coke.

Her truck broke down in the first 4 hours leaving Pine Top last year. We were stuck at a truck stop all night until a repair guy could come out the next morning. That really sucked.

Really, I like to load and get them there as quickly as possible. I would never travel a far distance alone.

Dec. 24, 2009, 04:22 PM
I have sent my horse to NC (from MN) in the winter for the past couple years. My instructor would drive the horses down usually with her husband and groom. They would usually leave at 11 pm ish and drive through the night so they would arrive in the day light. They usually drove straight through, barring any breakdowns. The trip is 22 hrs if you drive FAST. The horses all arrived happy and healthy. They only offered them water when they stopped for gas. Her groom told me once that for poor drinkers she would put some oats in the bottom of a shallow feed container and fill it with water. They would drink some of the water while trying to get the grain at the bottom.

Dec. 24, 2009, 04:40 PM
Thanks to all of you for the great advice. It is very helpful. I love all the tips on getting them to drink.

purplnurpl - :eek: being stuck at a truck stop all night - what a nightmare!

tuppysmom - What is being "graped". I'm imagining an avalanche of grapes. Guess I need to check out your old thread.

Dec. 24, 2009, 05:03 PM
Being graped.

A tractor trailer load of grapes tipped on the freeway just in front of us, in the dark. We were side by side wth another semi who was passing us. When we all hit the huge mound of grapes both trucks/trailers went sliding sideways and fishtailing back and forth. For some unknown reason neither truck/trailer tipped over or made contact. We could not see a thing out the windshield or side windows. The wipers couldn't even make a dent in the grapes.

We did get stopped, upright, and got the windows cleared enough to continue to a truck stop.

The truck wash quoted us $1600 to clean off the mess. We came on home, graped, and spent the next 2 weeks hand picking grapes of our truck and trailer.

You cannot even powerwash those things off. It was tooth brushes and fingernails that did the trick

That truck still had a sweetish smell to it when we sold it months later.

Dec. 24, 2009, 05:41 PM
Kevin, who just got inducted into the USEA Hall of Fame last week, used to truck between coasts all the time back in the 60s.

He told me that when he would stop for the night, he`d get on and ride them.

My memory might be faulty about this, but if someone could check with him, it would be very instructive, because he`d arrive all the way from Oregon, and beat the snot out of us. To phrase it in a genteel fashion.

Dec. 24, 2009, 07:11 PM
Like tuppysmom, we do a lot of long distance hauling around here (15.5 hours to Los Angeles, 18 hours to Kalispell, 14 hours to Phoenix, 15.5 hours to Chicago,...) I run them all straight through. I have bene in enough blizzards that have stretched some of these drives into 20+ hours. I go straight through when I go to an event and then break up the drive into 2 days as I come home (depending on the work schedule).

In general I will run straight from 3am until 9 or 10pm. I hang a water bucket in the trailer and have a 1/2 bale hay bag. My truck gets around 15-17mpg with a 40 gallon tank while hauling so I go somewhere up to 7 or 8 hours between stops.

I suggest a US Rider membership as well. Too many times I have been wrecked (e.g. jack-knifed on black ice, blown tires, engines, etc.) and find this does give me a bit of sense of peace. I try to carry enough tools and spare parts to most repairs on the side of the road.

I also carry a catalog of horse hotels in case I have to stop. Fairgrounds are good places to stop over night too.

Gnep, here, carries almost a full machine shop including impact hammers and wrenches. We blew a tire in the middle of the Mojave one year and I think it took us less than 10 minutes to change the thing and be back on the road. Of course that was the same trip the clutch on the truck blew out too and we drove from Cortez CO to Los Angeles and back with no clutch, 4 horses and 3 dogs.


Dec. 26, 2009, 09:45 PM
There is a book too with a state by state of every horse hotel in the US, i just cant remember the exact name but it could probably be looked up that would be conveinant ot have.
It is definitely easier to leave at night so the last hours come to you in the daylight. We found some of them traveled ALOT better at night too they seemed to come off the trailer much brighter when they had done most of the traveling hourse when it was dark out.

Dec. 26, 2009, 09:58 PM
Our events are in our back yard (1) and the rest are 3 plus to 10 plus hours away. We drive straight though except potty breaks and fuel breaks.

WE also drive straight through to those

But we have a few that are longer (rebecca is a 2300 round trip) and we stay in washington on way there and Nevada on way home but we do it in 2 days though. OUr washington event is over 700 miles but we do it in one shot. For both the long travel shows we arrive a couple days before event starts.