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Pinnacle HorseFloats
42 Gregory Street West
Ballarat 3355
Pinnacle HorseFloats
71 - 141 Tremayne Rd
QLD 4285
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Travelling Tips To Keep Your Horse Healthy On The Road

The number of individual horses transported each year is in excess of 2 million in Australia alone, and a recent study has uncovered some serious health concerns that could affect your horse as a result of these journeys. Horses travel more than any other animal, yet until recently there has been little study or analysis into the topic. The recent findings suggest that there is more that can be done to encourage a safe and healthy passage for horses during transportation which should be as comfortable as possible, and considering some horses make transported journeys up to twice a week, this could make a difference to your horses’ performance and quality of life.

Planning the journey

You will want your journey to be as seamless and problem-free as possible, so plan your route to ensure the fastest and safest passage. It can be beneficial to give your horse some practice, as horses familiar with transportation show less stress. Take your horses’ medical history into consideration and take preventative steps to keep health issues at bay. If your horse is sick before the journey, travel will only make it worse. There is some dispute over travel medications and whether they are safe for travel and if they work; it is advised that non-routine and unnecessary medications should be avoided.

During the journey

Horses need constant supervision, and this should be conducted as carefully as possible while travelling. Horses prefer cooler conditions when travelling, so avoid travelling in the heat of the day, and adjust ventilation accordingly throughout the journey. If the conditions are unavoidably hot or humid, ensure that you water your horse more frequently to make up for the loss of water from increased sweating.

Naturally, horses position themselves with their head down; however, it is common practice to tie horses up by their head-collars creating an unnatural lifted head posture. This position prevents the clearance of mucus from airways causing bacteria to build up and travel into the lungs. This action can increase the risk of chest infection and pneumonia which affects around 6% of horses that are transported for longer than 8 hours. Horses who travelled with a head restraint showed an increased likelihood of dehydration and immune system dysfunction.

After the journey

Horses should have frequent rests in which to eat, drink and put their head down. You will want to monitor their behaviour once the journey comes to an end to avoid and prohibit any potential health-related symptoms from worsening. Your horse should show an interest in water and hay within two hours of being unloaded; if not it is advisable to check their temperature. You can also check their weight for any signs of significant weight-loss, and also look out for signs of lameness or injury. A horses’ immune system can take up to 24 hours to recover following transport stress, making them more susceptible to disease.

The studies that have been conducted are based on long distance journeys, with little in the way of short distances being reported on. These journey tips apply to short and long distance journeys alike, and will benefit your horses welfare and performance if applied to every outing.