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Trailering from Baltimore, MD to Just south of Jax, FL- advice needed

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  • Trailering from Baltimore, MD to Just south of Jax, FL- advice needed

    * I also posted this in Off-Course and Hunter Jumper...want more opinions.

    I am moving to St. Johns, FL (south of Jax) on 8/1 and I am trailering my 17 year-old horse in an insulated 2-horse BP trailer. A friend is going with me. Trailer just had 4 fans installed and my horse will have hay manger with soaked hay in it. We were planning to leave MD at 4am to get past DC traffic in time. Based on other advice I received, I am thinking about leaving at 8pm now.

    Wanted to drive straight through and get to Jax ASAP, stopping of course to give horse a break from balancing/giving him water, to get gas, bathroom, etc.

    New barn manager suggested we stay overnight somewhere to break it up. Said it's too hot down south to trailer during the day for majority of trip. She said she just came back from NC to trailer horse from FL and it was really hot. I've never trailered any distance close to this. Friend going with me has trailered to Aiken from MD but it was in March. I don't want to stay overnight, since I wouldn't know anything about what horses had prior to us being there. I don't want to pick up any diseases or problems.

    My horse will be getting 6 days of gastro guard per vet's instructions, 2 days prior, during, and after. He'll also be getting electrolytes, and anything else I need to do.

    I would appreciate any comments, advice, suggestions that people who have done this can give me about this weather, trailering during the day, length of time, etc. Thank you!!!

  • #2
    I would go straight through, and consider making much of your trip at night (as long as you keep traffic times in mind). The worst of the heat starts in FL around 10am, if you could arrive before then that would be best. Having fans in your trailer is great. Hopefully your horse is a good drinker; monitor his water intake closely upon arrival. One of my older horses is a poor drinker and colicked after her first long trip, needed IV fluids but she was fine. I now load her up on salt/electrolytes in a soupy mash a day or two before and after she travels.
    A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.
    ? Albert Einstein



    • #3
      Be prepared with two spare tires for the trailer and know how to change them. Hot weather and long rides tends to lead to more blowouts. Have lots of water, sponges etc in case you break down.


      • #4
        I've done Orlando to Eastern Shore MD and back in summer several times. One experienced horse in an insulated 2h trailer, just me in the truck. Mostly I did it straight through, the one time I laid over was the only version of that trip that stressed my horse (long story). I usually take a 30-60 minute "lunch" break near the middle of a full day/night on the road, which gives both of us a chance to rest a bit. I do not unload, but if there's a dumpster nearby I will drop the ramp and remove the manure and wet shavings.

        Make sure your horse is well hydrated before you leave. If he'll eat soupy mash, great. If not, have the vet tube fluids into him. Take familiar water to offer when you stop for gas. Mine never wanted to drink the first 5-6 hours of a trip, after that if he wasn't drinking I'd put a couple handfuls of sweet feed in a gallon of water to motivate him. Carry at least 10 gallons of water, 20 is better.

        I second kcrubin on carrying two spares for the trailer. If the tires are more than 4 years old get them replaced before the trip. Have a mechanic you trust go over the whole rig and replace any belts, hoses, etc that are even slightly cracked or damaged. Make sure the radiator has good antifreeze--again if any doubt, flush and fill fresh. Trailer bearings should be recently greased and all running gear, lights, brakes, etc. inspected. You may cringe at the cost of pre-trip work, but trust me it'll cost twice as much or more if you have to get it via tow truck along the way.

        A trick for lowering temps inside the trailer is to buy a 10 lb bag of ice when you stop for fuel and sprinkle the crush/cubes on the floor with the shavings.

        When you get to Florida, pay attention to the signs for the agricultural inspection station. You are required to stop there and show them your coggins and health certificate. Also keep in mind that Jax has a rush hour--nothing like DC, but enough to make it worth planning to not go through there between 7 and 9 am or 4:30-6:30 pm.


        • Original Poster

          Thank you everyone!! Flamingo Rider, I will be taking 2 big coolers of water, one to soak hay and one for ice and horse drinking water. Sponges, scraper, lots of bedding, cleaning out manure and wet bedding will definitely be done! Yes, I'm getting new tires on trailer, and getting everything checked out. We are leaving at 7pm from Baltimore. Hopefully, we'll get there by 10am or so, depending on how many breaks we take. Yes, I have a file with all of my paperwork, just waiting on health certificate and coggins from vet.

          I just want to make sure about putting ice cubes in the bedding...under his belly, correct? The first thing I thought is that he could slip on them if they're close to his I picturing this wrong?

          I haven't given him a mash in about 3 years...I'll start 1-2 weeks before we leave...what's the best soupy mash? One in a packet from, say Dover, that I bought for him when it was supper cold one winter? Or something completely different?

          Thank you!!


          • Original Poster

            That would be super cold...not supper cold!


            • #7
              A "soupy mash" is just extra water added to his regular feed. Don't add or change his normal feed, you want to avoid digestive upset. I feed soaked beet pulp with grain, so I just add more water and salt than usual.
              A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.
              ? Albert Einstein



              • #8
                I did a longer version of this drive at the end of April- Ocala Fl, to The Jersey Shore- so same route, but longer. (i also drove to and from NY 3 times last summer, but without a horse)

                You've gotten some good advice so I have nothing to add other than the drive will potentallly take hours longer than what you are expecting.
                My drive was supposed to be 17-it took something like 21 hours stopping only quickly for fuel. I did overnight someplace but only because i was shipping alone, but ended up at a really awkward layover and i felt really uncomfortable and didn't get any rest.
                "Hell yes I can ride. I was riding when I fell off!"


                • #9
                  I have done the Northern VA to Ocala run several times. I always provide wet hay or wet alfalfa Standlee compressed hay for the trip. Pack fruit, lots of drinks and a sandwich for yourself. You don’t want to have to wait in line for food. I find Florida to be no hotter than Northern VA. The important part is to avoid traffic. Use your GPS to avoid traffic jams. DC, Richmond, Jacksonville, and parts of SC seem to be prone to traffic.Try to pick a day with good weather. Bad storms will slow you down and add stress. Have your health certificate and Coggins for the Ag Station. You must stop there right after you enter Florida. I like to depart at 2am since I need to sleep a few hours before I drive. My daughter always starts at 12 midnight. If you are totally stressed, think about calling a shipper, like Creech. We used them last time as we had a lot going on, and couldn’t cope with transporting the horses.


                  • Original Poster

                    Thank you ! We'll be using Waze to get away from traffic, hoping no problems with that since we're leaving around 7 pm. Great advice