Tips for Safe Horse Transport during Hot Weather

Hot weather can pose serious health problems for animals both two-legged and four-legged, including dehydration, heatstroke, and exhaustion. USRider, a national provider of roadside emergency assistance for equestrians, encourages horse owners to take steps to prevent these ailments when traveling with horses.

"In addition to providing a reliable and valuable roadside assistance program, it is also our mission is to continually educate horse owners about trailering safety," said Mark Cole, managing member for USRider.

During these days of summer, it is important that horse owners take precautions to safeguard their horses against heat-related ailments. USRider--in cooperation with Tomas Gimenez, DrMedVet, authority in large-animal emergency rescue--provides these hot-weather safety tips:

  • Avoid trailering during the warmest hours of the day.
  • Make sure that all trailer vents are open and unobstructed to create good airflow in the trailer. However, do not allow horses to stick their heads out windows--this could lead to serious eye injuries from bugs and debris.
  • Always carry a bucket and 2-3 gallons of drinking water per horse. The horses might not drink, but offer them water when stopping for fuel or at a rest area. The capillary refill time is a good indicator of the state of hydration of a horse. This can be checked easily through a trailer window.
  • When parking, try to find shaded areas and/or areas with some air movement.
  • If stuck in traffic on the interstate, provide as much ventilation in the trailer as possible without unloading the horses.
  • Make certain that your vehicle is in top running order. A properly tuned engine runs cooler. To avoid blowouts, check air pressure in all tires--including spares--while tires are cool, before you travel. Be sure to have a good spare that is properly inflated. With a good spare, if you do have a breakdown, you can get back on the road quickly. Having seen a high incidence of two flat tires on horse trailers, USRider recommends carrying two spares for your horse trailer.

Gimenez also advises horse owners to "expect the unexpected. A traffic accident could cause you to spend many hours trapped on the interstate." To help avoid getting stuck in traffic, he suggests listening to a CB. This could alert you of possible accidents on the road ahead and allow you to take an alternate route around the accident.

For additional safety tips, visit the Equine Travel Safety Area on the USRider Web site.  

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