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spinoff: Long distance hauling

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  • spinoff: Long distance hauling

    As some of you have surmised from my constant talking about it... we are moving from NW Washington (practically in Canada) to Pensacola, FL (extreme west FL) at Christmastime

    We are still in the planning stages, but our criteria is that we travel no more than 500 miles a day. We have two small children, a smelly Weimaraner, and our two tbs. My mare was been professionally shipped three years ago, but other than that, neither of our horses have gone more than a few hours.

    This is going to be a pretty epic undertaking, but I know people do it all the time.

    With that in mind, what would you "dress" your horses in, while they were in the trailer? Would you "set them up" in standing wraps when you get to your nightly destination?

    Oh, a couple of details about my two nutty tbs...
    Charlie is a 12 year old eventer, he will be quasi-fit during the move. His daddy is in the middle east and I don't ride Charlie. He's a pretty easy-going, kind of a goof-ball, and would load into a cardboard box, if there were hay in the slant.
    Bella is pretty much the polar opposite of Charlie. At 13 years, she's a stress-ball when it comes to the trailer, and is super hard to load (we're better, it used to take 5 full-grown men 2 1/2 hours to load her, now it's usually me and another person, first or second try). I'll be working on the move and getting our household goods packed, so she isn't going to be super fit.

    Neither of them are super prone to stocking up, but it's a heck of a trip.

    Steppin Not Dragon "Bella"
    Top Shelf "Charlie"
    Check out the Military + Horses fb page!

  • #2
    I'd start them on electrolytes at least a week in advance of the move.

    GastroGuard two days out and during the move and maybe a few days at new location. I'd also talk with your vet. For long hauls, I've known horses who we tubed with mineral oil and others who have gotten fluids.

    Set up in standing wraps each night...and spend time grazing if possible at your rest stops--NOT ON THE ROAD. Rest stops where you have stopped for the night.

    Hang water buckets during the drive if possible (if not just offer at each stop) and make sure you have a few stops where you stay put for a while. Some horses will not drink or eat until they have been stationary for a little time.

    Consider soaking the hay in your hay nets or bags.

    Leave their heads untied if possible or very loosely tied. Untie at stops...you want them to put their heads below their knees for a bit at the stops to clear their sinuses.

    As for boots or wrapping...I think it depends on the horse and trailer. My mare...I use boots because she sits on her hocks. Shipping commercially...I ship naked as the drivers do not want to deal with checking...shipping myself--I use either shipping boots or wraps. In a wreck...I don't think either offers much protection but boots perhaps a hair more.

    If in cooler temps, I ship with coolers (or a layer of them). I want wicking material that will take the sweat away from their skin and keep them warm. Once warm enough...I take off coolers.

    Good luck...I think I might be more worried about my own sanity with two kids for that long drive!!!
    ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


    • #3
      Wow, what a haul! I agree on most things ^

      Electrolytes 5 days out, through out the haul and 3 days after arrival.
      GastroGuard 2 days out, through out the haul and 3 days after arrival.
      Have h20 buckets for them in the trailer, you might want to add Horse Quencher if they are not drinking. Also, add HQ 3 days after arrival as well.

      Every 6 hours, stop for 25 min or so to let them pee, don't untie them though, seen many (lovely) horses try to turn around and get stuck.
      If you are hauling them in a box stall however, no need for tying, just keep a halter on them.

      I would wrap them in standing bandages when hauling. When laying over, un-wrap at night and repeat process next day. Also, when you do lay over, give them a bran mash.

      It is better for a horse to be too cold than too hot. If the weather is cold, 2 coolers that work well to wick away sweat but also keeps them warm should do the trick. If the weather is hot, doubt it will be, but no blankets,sheets or coolers. Oh and if you do use coolers, no leg straps!!! You need to be able to remove the coolers easily in travel if needed, and you can't with leg straps!

      You are laying over at night, right? I think it would be wise to do so...
      Last edited by guest12345; May. 30, 2012, 04:31 PM.


      • #4
        Can you offer them box stalls? If so, i wouldnt stop at horse hotels. Just keep them on the trailer, unload and walk them twice a day. They are more comfortable in their "safe" zone than they are in a brand new barn for just one night only to be in a new barn the next night. They get psyched up about new horses/smells etc and wont get the kind of rest you hope for. But in your trailer, they already know the sights and smells, it's "normal" even for the one that doesnt like to haul.

        I've stopped at horse hotels, it can work out totally fine. Or you can end up with a freaked out horse after hours and at the mercy of vet/people around you to help. Therefore, if i have box stalls, i dont stop. This is for my personal horses. I'm a hauler. Darned if you can convince people to pay for a box stall anymore, they all want the cheapest way possible, which is a straight stall. I dont like slants for long trips, i discovered that the hard way and just ordered a big 6h head to head. From experience, i just think they settle and relax easier in a head to head, and recover quicker for the older ones. I've been known to yank out dividers and tie my own horses in straight for personal trips. We never drive through the night either. 500miles a day is realistic for your trip i think. It's exhausting. I make hauls with my 3yr old, so i understand. The horses end up being the easy part.

        I boot my personal horses, and i'm happy to boot clients horses if they have well fitting boots. I have "stud dividers" in my trailer so no one can step on anyone, but i like the protection if they paw or scuffle around. A sudden stop due to the idiot that pulled out in front of you, and they can step on themselves. I'm a boot fan, but they have to fit. Wraps are a pain in the rear and dont cover as much skin. BUT, i once knew a vet who would both wrap AND boot her horses. Her theory, after cutting horses out of a couple trailer accidents, they usually come off with severe leg injuries, so if she can help prevent that, she's gonna do it. I suppose i might think differently if i saw that a time or two. Knock on wood, i never will.

        We are military, so we move a bit, i havent moved my personal horses that far of a distance yet, but i have one mare that in the past 6yrs i've put 17,000 road miles on, when my husband is deployed, i go play ... She is a pain in my rear as she refuses to drink on day 1. I second to leave water in front of them all day and soaking hay is super. Dont spring them on that day of, some need to get used to it, but they tend to prefer it. I also second bran mashes at night, but again, dont spring that on them either, they need to be used to it. Small hole hay nets are nice for long trips, let them get used to those at home first too. It keeps them busy. I also like to hang those round pink himalayan salt licks for them. I dont know if it helps, but it gives them something to keep them busy and i do think they drink better.

        Use some electrolytes (flavored like apple or something) or cool-aid (minimal) in their water at home for a week or so out from the trip, this gets them used to that taste, they'll be more apt to drink different water on the trip if it tastes more "normal." I have issues if i have to stop and get water that is more sulpher-ish in smell/taste for horses that have never had that, or even strong chlorine tastes. You never know what you'll get at rest stops and gas stations and that long of a trip, you likely will not find a water tank large enough to haul enough from home.
        Your Horse's Home On The Road!


        • #5
          You are hauling them, not shipping them?? That time of year you go south to Califfornia and then east through Texas.....boring and flat. Make mid calif the first day (more than 500 miles)...but routinely you make it to southern CA from Woodinville in that time. Say over. Plan to do to west TX the second, and either east GA or all the way in the last round. For sure carry water and use vinegar (which covers water smells) WAY before you go...you can add electrolytes but that time of year it is not usually necessary. WATER is more important. Once on the flat and at speed there is not much to it for horses. They are moving a little for balance (which is like light work). They WILL 'draw up' and need lots of hydration when they get there.

          For long hauls with commercial they do NOT boot nor sheet, in a trailer (open) it depends. Heat is created by movement. Its nice commercially because you can get 1.5 stalls which allows for movement, or a box stall where they can be free/lay down even...but that all adds $$.

          Realize too that most horses feet go to ##$(*& in FL because of lack of impact if they are only on the 'natural' sand. Also, learn to feed supplements which get rid of sand (which causes colic). And hay $$ will be SHOCKING for you.
          I.D.E.A. yoda


          • Original Poster

            Good idea on the Ulcerguard and electrolytes ahead of time. Our vet is aware of our move, so we will have banamine, bute, ulcerguard, ace, etc in our first aid trunk.

            I'm thinking I'm going to do standings and bell boots during the day and nothing at night. We are going to have to stop at night, as we have a 4 horse slant, i.e. no box stalls. The cool thing is that we have a door in the front slant, so we will put hay there, put the horses over the axles in the next two slants and then have access to both horses without unloading.

            This is our route (I think). The husband is from Bakersfield, so we will probably spend a couple of days there (MIL- sigh). We then are planning on going to Purcell, OK, as we have friends with a farm and will most likely spend a couple days there. I tried to convince the husband to keep the horses at the LA Equestrian center for a week and just go see his dad in Santa Monica, instead of his mom in Bakersfield, but he said no... I'm still working that angle!

            We've been stationed in NE Florida before, so we know Sand Clear and crappy coastal hay (doesn't make it any less painful- lol). We've lived in Pensacola before, but that was when we had taken a few years' hiatus from owning, and were just taking lessons.

            I need pelleted electrolytes! Maybe I'm going to have to paste the mare (shocking, the worry-wart who is hard to load is also a picky eater... sigh...).

            Vinegar in the water? Really? Huh, that's a new one for me.

            They are currently eating soaked Alfalfa pellets, so the jump to that and bran shouldn't be too much, right? Do any of you add oil to the mash when traveling (and before)?

            p.s. If anyone knows good barns in our stops, let me know! I'm horse-hotel shopping!
            Steppin Not Dragon "Bella"
            Top Shelf "Charlie"
            Check out the Military + Horses fb page!


            • #7
              I'd be leary of the "couple days here" and "couple days there". Straight haul (with breaks obviously) would probably be better on the horses.

              I boot/wrap/sheet depending on the horse. Some need the leg protection and others are better naked. I do tend to lean towards the wrap though and use all cotton, with fresh clean back up sets. I pillow wrap not shipping boots which are more trouble than worth in my book.

              For the cross country hauls I adjust feeding to include electrolytes and probios. I did/do small quantity of grain for the hardkeepers- otherwise it's hay (sometimes wet down).

              Practice loading and unloading your mare... like every day. I did that with one gelding who had a trailering accident and would just go into full panic mode. He was self loading after a couple weeks of positive brief training sessions on loading/unloading and the occasional tool around the area.

              As to barn stop-overs... I've had good and bad experiences.


              • #8
                I do gatorade in the water. Mine loves the fruit punch. Came in handy a few years ago camping at the beach. I had the only one who would really drink that saltier tap water.
                Pamela Ellis


                • #9
                  We keep an assortment of gatoraid, apple juice, koolaid packets, and electrolites in the trailer for the stubborn drinkers. You never know what might work! I bought a water filter for my hose from the RV department of walmart that I haven't tried yet, I'm hoping it takes some of that nasty taste out. That rotten egg smell seems to stick in your water tank forever.

                  Can you pop your dividers out? You could give them box stalls, they would be slant box stalls, which I don't like, but we did this with the previous trailer and several haulers with slant loads offer this as well. You lose the hay storage though.
                  Your Horse's Home On The Road!


                  • #10
                    Adding on my original comment, make sure you have an emergency horse and human kit!! SmartPak has a pretty good trailer version. Extra halters and leads as well.
                    Also, once you know where you will be stopping. Take some time to find a good vet over the internet so you can contact them if you need to. Better to be over pre-pared than not!


                    • #11
                      I'd bribe an animal-experienced friend to come along. We moved from Fort Lee (VA) to Fort Leonard Wood (MO) during a blizzard in 2009. We were not able to wait it out for the usual Army scheduling reasons. Since it was the holiday season, DH's brother was traveling with us (their extended family is in the Midwest - instead of flying out for the holidays, he road-tripped out with us.) We were traveling with 2 vehicles, one pulling a U-haul. Only a dog and cat (hadn't bought the horse yet) and the move was so, so much easier with that extra pair of hands.

                      It's usually an ordeal just getting the animals in and out of hotels, taking turns to visit the rest stop so someone's in the car with the pets, etc. You will just be compounding that with the horses. Get a friend to go along!!! We now have a horse trailer but for our next PCS we are tentatively planning to pack the trailer with some household goods, dog crates, etc, and just ship the horse commercially.


                      • #12
                        Be sure that you don't have the hooves trimmed or shod prior to the trip. Make it at least 2 weeks before the trip. Many a horse has come off a long trip lame or worse, foundered on one foot due to overloading it because the other foot had a quick or hot nail.
                        Producing horses with gentle minds & brilliant movement!


                        • #13
                          There was a goverment study done on shipping horses a number of years ago. Horses are at risk after 23 hours of travel which you wont be doing but are more stressed out by the unloading and loading, they found if you are stopping over they should be unloaded for as many hours as you traveled.

                          I brought 2 horses from So Calif to Ma. a number of years back and we drove about 10 hours a day. Used the horse motel book for stops, some were great but a number of others we had to spend a lot of time cleaning the stalls up and making it safe.

                          Growing up in S. Ca I used to show in Bakersfield, huge fairgrounds there!


                          • #14
                            You are braver and/or younger than I was when we PCSed from Georgia to California. I had my horse professionally shipped...on the way out he went with an outfit that did nightly layovers. Arrived in CA dehydrated, depressed and with a shocking weight loss. When I shipped him back to GA, I made sure to use a hauler that took him straight through in a box stall. He left Thursday midday and arrived way early on Sunday, looking & feeling like a million bucks. I was especially thankful as DH & I were driving across the Mojave and my truck radiator popped a leak, with accompanying overheating...if the horse had been in the trailer it would have been an epic nightmare.

                            I'd never do it any other way than using professional shippers, but that said, my DH is not horsey and I would have been sick with anxiety, so this worked out the very best for us.

                            Good luck! It will be a serious adventure.


                            • #15
                              I've done it both ways--shippers and ourselves. But we have tons of miles hauling so using shipper depends on our schedules/convienence factor.

                              All suggestions are very very wise, not much to add or change as much is personal preference.

                              Trailer bedding: think about it regarding the dust factor as well as the insultion factor. You want to minimize dust so think about what you are using for bedding but you also want to provide some insulation against road vibration/heat and to absorb urine.

                              Tires: be sure they are good. Check the manufacture date on the trailer tires, not the purchase date. If you don't know how to do this, PM me, or ask (I will try to get back to the board frequently). Check the air pressure cold and hot. Check the tires each and every stop. Have good 2 (TWO) mounted spares with you. And if possible an extra unmounted you have have mounted. Some tire stores will mount an unmounted tire for you; some won't. Be sure you have stuff to change the tire, just in case. This includes a breaker bar to break the lug nuts loose. Be sure you can break the lug nuts loose before you leave whoever is the last place to touch the trailer tires before you leave. Some places put them on so tight it is almost impossible for a normal person to break them loose without a commercial air compressor and air impact wrench. Unless you have a breaker bar, and maybe a "cheater bar" too boot, you won't get these lug nuts off!! And my last experience with USRider was less than happy (it was 2 hrs and the outfit they sent was a comedy of errors that had use my tire changing equipment).

                              I am assuming you have the trailer gone over before you leave to be sure the axels/hubs are greased, the wiring is good, the brakes are good, all moving parts are good, etc. This means in the horse compartment part too. All pins are seated. All latches are good. Have extra latch pins. If you paddock things, have locks that are all keyed alike and have extra keys and have that NEVER leaves your body (on a wrist thingy or something)

                              Same thing with truck, plus have extra oil, extra coolant, an extra air filter, an extra oil filter, a set of wrenches, a couple of good and bright working flash lights (something requiring no hands as well), a funnel, and a set of USDOT emergency triangles (with flashing lights if possible).

                              Ropes: Have a hank of just plain rope, and some heavy cable/zip ties.

                              A KNIFE!! A sharp, easy to use KNIFE. Someone suggested one like the emergency responders use for cutting seatbelts. But I don't know if these will cut lead ropes? If the knife blade is sl serrated, all the better, esp for things like halters and lead ropes.

                              USRIDER has a form on their website for who to contact in case of emergency, Power of Attorney, etc. I have copies of them laminated and have a copy in the tow vehicle and a copy in the trailer with the horses (secured on the wall) in the event I am not "available" for whatever reason during an accident.

                              I used to unload on the road in public areas (ie rest areas, etc). I don't anymore. Too risky. Too much liability. Too many stupid people. When we stop for meals, etc, we let them rest and have "horse time".

                              Watch for butt rubs!! I have had horses that insist on sitting on the back wall of the trailer and wind up with bad abrasions from that. Not a big deal if they do it for short trips but after hours and hours and hours, it is a big deal and it can be a nasty sore.

                              If your trailer has ties that low, ie nose level, tie low, not high. If all the ties are up high (where us short people can't reach them!!) since you have time, get someone to put some ties in lower, ie at chest, etc level if your trailer configuration allows. This will also let you configure a way to hang water and feed buckets too--think ahead and have the welder make it the way that will work for you.

                              If your front stall doesn't have a stud divider, be carefull about the hay, etc sliding. You will need to tie, or something, the hay to be sure it doesn't shift and slide into the second stall.

                              Make a back up plan for emergencies. Think of what could go wrong. Then make a back up plan for what could wrong when those plans go wrong.

                              Take an extra cell phone battery and have it charged.

                              Go to AAEP.ORG and put it in your cell phone's browser. You can find vets along your route that way.

                              And I am sure there are lots of us COTHers along your route that would be willing to lend a hand if you need it. I know I am along your route since I am a little over an hour west of Purcell (you can google/mapquest Guthrie vs Purcell).

                              Safe traveling!!