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Boat travel and horses

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  • Boat travel and horses

    In a few weeks I will be moving my horse to my new job!!!

    The catch- it’s on an island.

    I am moved in and loving the job, so now I am itching for my horse to join me, but super nervous about getting him there. Part of the travel involves putting him on a ferry for a 15 minute ride to the island. The ferry is completely open to elements, and they expect me to walk my horse on to the ferry and hold him there for the ride. It is super difficult to fit a truck and trailer on the boat, and would mean waiting even longer to get my horse over.

    They have lots of experience moving horses over, but my horse can be fairly high strung, especially when it comes to water, and loud noises. I won’t be able to see him until he moves in two weeks either, so that will add to it as well.

    We plan to tranquillise him, but I was also thinking about giving him some SmartCalm paste that I have before the trailer ride to help take the edge off. Does anyone know if this is safe?

    He is also on a supplement for ulcers, and will be starting two weeks of additional support before and after the move. I also think I’ll put ear stuffies in to muffle wind and engine sounds.

    Any additional tips to ease my nerves? Thank you!

  • #2
    If you are already working with a vet on a tranquilizer, I would not give him anything _else_ without the vet's approval.

    This is definitely one of those times when better living through chemistry sounds like a good idea!

    I guess I would go look at the ferry and then visualize how this is all going to work. Are there any walls at all, or posts that you can use? Anything that resembles a standing stall so he is somewhat confined?

    We will need pictures of this adventure.
    --
    Wendy
    ... and Patrick

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by wsmoak View Post
      If you are already working with a vet on a tranquilizer, I would not give him anything _else_ without the vet's approval.

      This is definitely one of those times when better living through chemistry sounds like a good idea!

      I guess I would go look at the ferry and then visualize how this is all going to work. Are there any walls at all, or posts that you can use? Anything that resembles a standing stall so he is somewhat confined?

      We will need pictures of this adventure.
      Yes. All I can picture is John Wayne and Glen Campbell in True Grit.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTMeDBVknQY

      Good luck! It sounds exciting, and, as wsmoak says, better living through chemistry sounds like a good idea in this instance.
      Rack on!

      Comment


      • #4
        Where will the horse be sedated exactly?

        If you’ve never tranquilized your horse before, it takes some times (10 to 45 minutes depending on the drug/dose/horse) to come into effect and it’s better when it’s done in a quiet situation.
        Horses can « get through » the drug.

        Is your horse shod? Is the ferry safe for a shod horse to walk on and not slip if he panics a little?

        You, be very, very quiet and assertive. No shenanigans from your horse is to be allowed. Be very concentrate.
        Try keeping or lowering your horse’s head to your hip level at all time. It lowers their heart rate.

        Foam Ear plugs+ bonnet, lead chain (over nose/on gum/in mouth), a somewhat a warm blanket (the cold/wind can make some horses more tense)

        What kind of experience do the ferry crew have really? Don’t let anyone try to « help » you unless you decide they are trustworthy. And remember that you are allowed to change your mind and say stop/no at any time.
        You don’t want them to startle your horse with brooms, shouting or whatever.

        ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

        Originally posted by LauraKY
        I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
        HORSING mobile training app

        Comment


        • #5
          Seems like a pretty huge risk and liability all around. wait until you can put horse on a trailer. better to take more time and less risk.
          Let me apologize in advance.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by thebiggrey View Post
            In a few weeks I will be moving my horse to my new job!!!

            The catch- it’s on an island.

            I am moved in and loving the job, so now I am itching for my horse to join me, but super nervous about getting him there. Part of the travel involves putting him on a ferry for a 15 minute ride to the island. The ferry is completely open to elements, and they expect me to walk my horse on to the ferry and hold him there for the ride. It is super difficult to fit a truck and trailer on the boat, and would mean waiting even longer to get my horse over.

            They have lots of experience moving horses over, but my horse can be fairly high strung, especially when it comes to water, and loud noises. I won’t be able to see him until he moves in two weeks either, so that will add to it as well.

            We plan to tranquillise him, but I was also thinking about giving him some SmartCalm paste that I have before the trailer ride to help take the edge off. Does anyone know if this is safe?

            He is also on a supplement for ulcers, and will be starting two weeks of additional support before and after the move. I also think I’ll put ear stuffies in to muffle wind and engine sounds.

            Any additional tips to ease my nerves? Thank you!
            just cause this seems like on its face such a terrible plan.
            Let me apologize in advance.

            Comment


            • #7
              Consider a set of blinkers for him?
              the NOT!! Spoiled!! Arabian Protectavest poster pony lives on in my heart

              Comment


              • #8
                Putting a horse on an open ferry unrestrained by anything but a tranquilizer and a lead rope sounds like a risky plan.

                If you are really considering this, make sure that you know ahead of time how your horse reacts to the tranquilizer. His balance will be affected by the ocean AND perhaps by the medication. Panic is possible when tranquilized and when they blow through the medication it is sometimes worse than if they'd had no meds at all. If all the restraint you have is a rope, it will go sideways quickly.

                You should accustom him to ear plugs beforehand if you plan to try them.

                In other words, don't try anything new when you are putting your nervous horse on an open boat for the first time.
                The open boat is enough for the horse to cope with.

                Try to find a vet that has some experience with this. Does anyone know any Island equine veterinarians?

                Comment


                • #9
                  I am reading Dick Francis' autobiography and he states his grandfather used to put his horses plus the pack of hounds in a flat bottomed boat on a calm day and shave 20 miles off his trip to meet the hunt by going across the mile wide estuary. His father swam horses across the same estuary, using a rowboat.

                  People are still doing it. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zcyVSWXoGdE

                  If he leaps off, horses CAN swim. The more things your average riding horse can tolerate the better it is for them, I suppose that an Olympic horse can be catered to but for the rest of us the less work to handle the horse the better. Just go with the sedation provided by the vet and keep calm.
                  Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                  Incredible Invisible

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ReSomething View Post
                    I am reading Dick Francis' autobiography and he states his grandfather used to put his horses plus the pack of hounds in a flat bottomed boat on a calm day and shave 20 miles off his trip to meet the hunt by going across the mile wide estuary. His father swam horses across the same estuary, using a rowboat.

                    People are still doing it. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zcyVSWXoGdE

                    If he leaps off, horses CAN swim. The more things your average riding horse can tolerate the better it is for them, I suppose that an Olympic horse can be catered to but for the rest of us the less work to handle the horse the better. Just go with the sedation provided by the vet and keep calm.
                    Well, we don't know what this ferry looks like. If the horse "leaps off" it may have people, vehicles and or a railing to go through. The tide, the waves and the speed at which the ferry travels may be problematic for the overboard, tranquilized horse.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      No we don't, nor do we know if this is protected water, likely to be calm.

                      If the ferry is too small to fit a truck and trailer I am envisionIng the small car ferries we have here, side rails and a little fold up ramp, fits two cars, maybe three. OP will have to investigate the construction of the ferry and the worst thing is that she likely won't be able to desensitize her horse to any of it without seeing him for two weeks.
                      Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                      Incredible Invisible

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Could you build a box like they use for horses getting on planes? It would contain him from running off and probably keep him calmer since it would feel more like a horse trailer. You can google image search ‘horses on planes’ for images of the boxes they use.
                        If not I would wait and trailer him. The last thing you want is him jumping off the boat.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          For a highly strung horse, I'd wait and trailer him too. It's not like you can desensitise him over time prior to the trip, and there are too many variables you can't control.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            This sounds like a Bad Plan. Just too many things to go wrong and you end up with a badly injured horse or a drowned

                            horse. Don't underestimate the strength of a scared horse. sometimes tranquilizers do the opposite and rev them up

                            especially if adrenaline is already off the charts. High strung = act before they think. Not good.

                            Be safe and wait for the truck and trailer ride.
                            "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I have moved one horse standing on the deck of a small open ferry for a trip about 15 minutes long. Going into it I was terrified as to what would happen - needlessly so as it turns out. Here's how it went. This ferry transported horses frequently so they knew how to plan for a smooth trip. We went on a slack tide so the currents were as quiet as possible and with good weather conditions so the chop was small. The ferry would have cancelled our trip if conditions had been otherwise.

                              The deck had rubber mats on it (as I recall, she was shod at the time). The horse handler switched her from a regular lead line to a lunge line "just in case she decided she'd rather swim." She didn't. She walked on quietly and as soon as the ferry started moving, she crouched a bit and stayed in that position the entire ride. She saw the shoreline approaching and as soon as we reached dock and the front gate was dropped she headed right for land. It was very clear she wanted no more part of the boat ride. I was extremely impressed with the way she was handled. No tranquilizers were used.

                              I would talk with the folks who operate the ferry for their recommendations on how to handle your horse but I thought my experience might give you some food for thought.
                              Whimbrel

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                If this were my horse I would wait until I could drive a truck and trailer on to the boat. Just seems safer.

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by Whimbrel View Post
                                  I have moved one horse standing on the deck of a small open ferry for a trip about 15 minutes long. Going into it I was terrified as to what would happen - needlessly so as it turns out. Here's how it went. This ferry transported horses frequently so they knew how to plan for a smooth trip. We went on a slack tide so the currents were as quiet as possible and with good weather conditions so the chop was small. The ferry would have cancelled our trip if conditions had been otherwise.

                                  The deck had rubber mats on it (as I recall, she was shod at the time). The horse handler switched her from a regular lead line to a lunge line "just in case she decided she'd rather swim." She didn't. She walked on quietly and as soon as the ferry started moving, she crouched a bit and stayed in that position the entire ride. She saw the shoreline approaching and as soon as we reached dock and the front gate was dropped she headed right for land. It was very clear she wanted no more part of the boat ride. I was extremely impressed with the way she was handled. No tranquilizers were used.

                                  I would talk with the folks who operate the ferry for their recommendations on how to handle your horse but I thought my experience might give you some food for thought.
                                  Thank you all for the suggestions- even if some added to my nerves, they’re all helpful!

                                  I like the idea to put down rubber mats so he doesn’t slip, that wasn’t something I had even considered. My trip is two weeks out so no clue what weather will be like yet, but I will plan to reschedule if it looks bad in any way.

                                  Im so happy to hear your horse did well with the trip, and I hope my guy is similar! He never ceases to surprise me with how good he is as he’s gotten to trust me more. He’s easy to handle and even when he gets nervous he still is respectful so long as it’s not too much. I’m trying to keep my thoughts positive so he will follow suit!

                                  As for everyone saying to wait for the trailer, I am on a time constraint given permitting restrictions, a season change, and rules from the owners. Not bringing my horse over this way could mean not having my horse with me for almost a year, and I simply can’t leave him high and dry on the mainland. His current boarding situation has started going south since I announced his move. Plus he does not like being ridden only once a week, which is all I would have time for if he stays home. I hear your concerns, but I have been told by the BM here, the owners, and boarders that the method described is the best way to get him here, despite all the questions.

                                  As for asking the ferry crew, when prompted about what they do when a horse jumps off the boat his response was:

                                  “I don’t know, I just drive the boat”

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by thebiggrey View Post

                                    Thank you all for the suggestions- even if some added to my nerves, they’re all helpful!

                                    I like the idea to put down rubber mats so he doesn’t slip, that wasn’t something I had even considered. My trip is two weeks out so no clue what weather will be like yet, but I will plan to reschedule if it looks bad in any way.

                                    Im so happy to hear your horse did well with the trip, and I hope my guy is similar! He never ceases to surprise me with how good he is as he’s gotten to trust me more. He’s easy to handle and even when he gets nervous he still is respectful so long as it’s not too much. I’m trying to keep my thoughts positive so he will follow suit!

                                    As for everyone saying to wait for the trailer, I am on a time constraint given permitting restrictions, a season change, and rules from the owners. Not bringing my horse over this way could mean not having my horse with me for almost a year, and I simply can’t leave him high and dry on the mainland. His current boarding situation has started going south since I announced his move. Plus he does not like being ridden only once a week, which is all I would have time for if he stays home. I hear your concerns, but I have been told by the BM here, the owners, and boarders that the method described is the best way to get him here, despite all the questions.

                                    As for asking the ferry crew, when prompted about what they do when a horse jumps off the boat his response was:

                                    “I don’t know, I just drive the boat”
                                    Good luck! Let us know how it goes.

                                    Maybe ask if you can bring a tub and some hay to distract him?

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Don't think about it as water. I know that sounds odd, but it is not like a puddle of water that the horse is crossing, touching, or a hose spraying water. The horse may not even recognize it as water. He will recognize the movement though, does he trailer well I hope?
                                      Do pick a calm weather day if you can, and the calmest point in the day: slack tide when the wind is down in the morning for example. If you can have someone else along who is good with horses, but instruct them not to hover, they are only to get involved if it looks like an extra set of hands is needed. Horses tend to pick up on things like that...'an extra person is holding on to me. Why are they holding on to me? Something must be scary? Something IS scary!'
                                      And be calm yourself, that is always hardest

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        If the horse was tranquilized and went off the boat would it still be able to swim??

                                        Is there no way to set up a small ( stall sized) pen on deck by using horse round pen type panels?

                                        Comment

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