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Travelling Horses in the Winter

Short daylight hours through the winter months means that getting out with our horses will mean plenty of loading and unloading in the dark and often in cold, wet weather. We’ve put together some top tips for traveling your horse as safely as possible, making each outing enjoyable this winter season!

1) Plan ahead of your journeyBefore any journey, always ensure that all lights on the trailer or horsebox are working correctly. You should plan a route which takes into consideration any issues due to winter weather, such as avoiding flooding or untreated roads. Always tell someone where you are going and what time you’re planning to be back, especially if you’re traveling alone. Ensuring that you have adequate breakdown cover is also a reassurance, particularly if traveling for a long distance. Avoiding travel during periods of extreme weather is highly advisable.

2) Pack essential itemsAlong with the standard, essential items such as a first aid kit, spare equipment, water and hay, we would also recommend you carry a torch (with spare batteries) and hi-vis for you and for your horse. Spare warm, waterproof clothing for yourself and a spare rug for your horse will also come in handy if you’re caught in wet weather. All equipment should be stored as neatly as possible for it to be grabbed quickly when needed.

3) Lighting in the trailer or horseboxSoft lighting is best in the trailer or horsebox, despite horses being able to see better in the dark than we do. A calming, ambient light will help horses to settle - street lights and passing car headlights can spook and unsettle some horses so a soft light will cause a nice distraction. Lighting the horsebox will also mean that horses aren’t disorientated when suddenly thrown into bright lights when they reach their destination.

4) Find a safe place for loading and unloadingTry to load and unload in a flat, open area that offers minimal risks for horses to knock themselves if they won’t load. Light the area and the horsebox/trailer as much as you can and if possible don’t load the horse on concrete – try to find ground with some give, especially if the horse is tired.

5) Keep the horse comfortableDespite cold weather, the trailer or horsebox should be kept well ventilated during travel. When considering how to rug your horses treat each one as an individual – rug to suit your horse’s clip, whether your horse feels the cold and give thought to how your horse travels. If he is the type to get hot and sweaty while traveling, be careful not to over rug him. If a few horses are traveling together, shared body heat will help to keep them warm. Preventing dehydration is also an important consideration – many horses will not drink as much during the winter, so offering water regularly is important. Adding apple juice or another preferred flavouring to water may help to encourage the horse.


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