Hit the Road with These Tips for Traveling with Your Equine Companion

May 16, 2024

a woman leading a horse out of a trailer

If you have a horse or plan to adopt one soon, you’ll probably need to transport them at some point. Maybe you’ll bring your newly adopted equine home or move to another town. Perhaps you’ll want to haul your horse for routine activities like competitions, visits to the veterinarian or trail rides. Whatever the reason for your trip, preparing in advance will reduce stress for you and your equine partner.

Stock up on snacks, build the perfect road-trip playlist, and form a plan for hauling your horse. It can feel overwhelming, but we have you covered!

Use these tips to navigate whatever travels lie ahead:

Gather your paperwork.

Bring documentation proving that your horse has received a negative Coggins test. A health certificate is also required by law if your horse is traveling over state lines.

State and local regulations at your point of origin, destination, and everywhere in between may have additional requirements, so do your research! Pack hard copies of your equine’s paperwork and save them digitally, too.

Prepare your horse.

Practice some essential skills to ensure your horse travels safely.

Trailers can be scary. To help you and your horse gain confidence in this process, repeatedly practice guiding your horse on and off the trailer leading up to your trip. Also practice tying your horse to the outside of the trailer so you can easily secure your horse when you arrive at your destination, make a pitstop, or in the unlikely instance your vehicle breaks down. Don’t feel discouraged if your horse needs help learning these skills; professional trainers can help!

Don’t forget food! Fresh hay will keep your horse happy and satiated throughout the drive.

Plan your route.

Make a list of emergency contacts and note places along your route where you can stop for help, if needed. Avoid cities during rush hour, because the frequent stop and go of traffic jams adds stress for you and your horse and makes your horse work harder to stay balanced.

Check the weather and your vehicles.

Whenever possible, avoid severe weather and extreme heat. It’s safest for your horse to travel during the coolest parts of the day. Weather can affect your vehicle, too. For example, dramatic variations in temperature can impact your tire pressure. Assess your truck and trailer before your trip and quickly address any mechanical needs that arise.

As you examine your truck and trailer, ask yourself: Is there enough ventilation for my horse? Have I packed enough blankets to keep my horse warm in cold weather? Does my trailer need mats and a thick bed of shavings to buffer heat radiating from the road? If your trailer has windows, ensure that its bars and screens are intact so your horse cannot extend their head through the open window. Fly masks can protect your horse’s eyes and face from dust and debris in the air.

a horse trailer

No trailer? No problem. Hire a professional hauler.

There are hundreds of commercial horse hauling companies around the country. These tips can help you find a trustworthy and reputable hauler for your next trip.

First, ask a friend or equine professional to recommend a hauler they’ve used before. Sometimes the best recommendations come from people you already know and trust.

Once connected to a hauler, ask them about their hauling experience, including:

  • Insurance coverage.
  • Pricing and payment terms.
  • How frequently they stop or layover.
  • How frequently they check on the horses and offer water.
  • How they’ll accommodate your horse’s specific needs.

Unfortunately, some businesses take advantage of unsuspecting horse owners. Use caution if you encounter these circumstances during your search:

  • Prices and promises that are too good to be true.
  • Businesses that require you to pay deposits through payment apps.
  • Haulers who lack transparency, are difficult to communicate with, or dodge your questions.
  • Practices and plans that do not prioritize the health and safety of your horse.

Now that you’re prepared for the adventure ahead, go on that trail ride you’ve been longing for; compete in this year’s big show; make your big move to another state; and enjoy a less stressful road trip with your horse. You’ll discover a new world of activities beyond your home barn!

Ready to bring home your next – or first – horse? Visit myrighthorse.org to meet hundreds of adoptable equines nationwide.