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How Long is Too Long on a Trailer?

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  • How Long is Too Long on a Trailer?

    I hired a professional shipping company to transport a young horse from the East coast to Colorado. They picked her up early morning on Thursday & she was suppose to arrive Sat/Sun but because of weather delays she won't be here until Tuesday.
    When I found out it would take extra time I tried to get her a box stall but they don't do box stalls so she is stuck in a stall & half. It also doesn't help that they only have one driver which means he is only allow to drive the standard 14hrs with 8hrs rest. I truly wish I found this out before the morning of but I guess I just assumed it was standard practice to have two drivers.

    How long is too long for a horse to be on a trailer with no layovers? Should I have the vet come out? Any suggestions on what I should look for or do when she finally does arrive?

  • #2
    Are you sure they aren't unloading along the way?

    I have shipped horses for up to 3 days without unloading (CA to MI in very small boxes). When they arrived they were in 10x10 stalls for the first day and a half before I arrived behind them. That was not by design, but in hindsight I think that giving them a very gradual return to being able to move around was a good thing. If she is eating and drinking well on the van she should be OK. At least she is getting several hours to relax her muscles and stand each night. Be extra vigilant for signs of respiratory illness when she arrives.
    As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.


    • #3
      It will be fine. I just shipped a gelding on a big truck with a stall and a half. It took 4 days and he got off the truck looking and feeling great. Of its a reputable shipper they know how to manage these situations surprisingly well.


      • #4
        Amost whole week in a stall and a half (which for most shippers, are still just very small standing stalls)? Honestly, I'd be very concerned. It sounds like all you can do at this point is wait for her to arrive though. A box stall would have been better, too bad that wasn't an option. However, in my opinion it's better for them in general not to do layovers... each time unloading/loading/ being in a strange new barn and around new horses/germs is stressful, I think it's better for most horses to rest on the trailer.
        What to look out for? My first concerns would be dehydration and colic... most horses don't drink well during travel, even if they are being offered water frequently. Also, depending on the company, she may or may not have hay in front of her... never good for them to not be able to have forage going through their system. If she seems bright when she gets off the trailer, I'd just keep a close eye on her, give electrolytes, monitor water consumption, and slowly ease her back onto grain and hay. Most horses drop a bit of weight over long trips like that, but make sure not to rush her into large concentrate meals. Did she get gastroguard/ulcerguard before the trip? Either way, it would be a good idea to does her for her first week home (1/2 tube per day)- even if she didn't have ulcers, being a a trailer for a week is very stressful, and it will be likely they she will be developing them by the time she gets to you. If she gets off the trailer and seems lethargic and tucked up, it might be a good idea to have the vet out, at the very least to give fluids and check vitals. Good luck! I tend to have the super delicate flowers so I'm always prepared for the worst, but most horses make it through long trips just fine.
        High Quality Tack Resale


        • #5
          A few years back, my gelding took 5 days to get from New-York to Colorado and arrived in good shape.
          "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade."


          • #6
            Wow, I didn't know they were allowed to have horses on that long without unloading somewhere. I guess there's concern about the horse not getting back ON the trailer once they're off though....so it makes sense, I suppose.
            Teaching Horseback Riding Lessons: A Practical Training Manual for Instructors

            Stop Wasting Hay and Extend Consumption Time With Round Bale Hay Nets!!


            • Original Poster

              A quick update: The truck broke down in Wyoming literally two hours away from our place but no one called me so I didn't know until I called them at 10am yesterday. They told me a new driver would be there in less than an hour to continue the trip which of course didn't happen. The new driver didn't even pick them up until 8pm last night. If I knew that I would have driven up there & gotten her myself. The poor girl didn't arrive until after midnight.
              She could barely stand, was so absolutely exhausted, very dehydrated & extremely sore. The vet is coming out today. I feel horriable about the situation!

              All I have to say is I will NEVER use this trailering company again. There was absolutely no communication, I sometimes had to call four to five times before I got a hold of someone & when I did get a hold of someone they always told me they would have to call me back but never did. Than last night was the worse because after 5pm when the office closed I had no way to get a hold of anyone including the new driver.

              All I have to say is I'm thankful she is here & will recover! I have to say any trip lasting more than three days without a layover is a NO GO for me & my horses!


              • #8
                Thanks for the update - I was a little concerned last night when I hadn't seen a She's Here

                You can certainly out the company & write letters to management etc - there is really NO EXCUSE for you not to have been contacted when the trailer broke down & they were close enough for horses to be easily picked up.
                Ask your vet to write up a document for you to use - you may get a partial refund if you're persistent ...

                Definitely let New Vocations know so they can direct others to alternate shippers.


                • #9
                  There are definitely some less-than-scrupulous companies out there. I was supposed to meet a shipper at 10 pm once to put someone's mare on a van out of state. At 1 am we hadn't seen anyone and couldn't reach anyone, so I left. They had broken down and finally limped their rig to our barn in the middle of the night, *unloaded all of the horses into our two round pens*, and left to go get the rig fixed. They picked the horses up two days later and I'm sure no one got the full story.
                  As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.