Travelling to an event to compete can often be the most stressful aspect and it can put any horse owner off. However with the right preparation, travelling can be stress free:
1. Plan your route beforehand ensuring you think about suitable places to stop and offer water to your horse. Also consider that frequent stops will add time to your journey so make sure you give yourself extra time and do not rush the drive.
2. If travelling for over three hours make sure you allow time for untying the horse and allowing them to lower their head. Whilst tied up the horses head is in an unnatural position which doesn't allow for the natural clearance of mucus from the airways, so it is vital you give them chance to lower their heads when travelling greater distances, to reduce the onset of conditions like pneumonia or chest infections (often referred to as shipping fever).
3. Make essential vehicle checks such as checking oil, water and fuel levels, plus ensure all indicators and lights are working.
4. Get the trailer or lorry loaded and ready to go before you load your horse. This will reduce the amount of time the horse will spend stood before you start your journey and reduce the chances of them getting stressed.
5. Don't forget to pack your horses passport, a legal requirement when travelling horses in the UK.
6. Pack a basic safety kit, this should include items such as a human and equine first aid kit, torch, high-vis jackets, a warning triangle and a phone charger. Make sure you have the number of your breakdown assistance provider to hand.
7. Allow for plenty of time to actually load your horse. We all know that it's when we are rushing that things start to go wrong, so don't let time get the better of you. For nervous loaders or horses that haven't travelled, practice loading before your event.
8. Make sure you have extra hay/haylage and water on board in case of emergencies.
TIP - For horses that have never travelled before, get them used to wearing and walking with travel boots on.
10. Drive with caution and as smoothly as possible. Horses will expend energy trying to maintain their balance, so by making the drive as smooth as possible it will help keep the horse fresh and ready for the competition.