Travelling a horse can be a daunting process-there is so much to think about and organise when you decide to start getting out and about with your equine companion,but we are here to help! 
So you are ready to hit the road with your horse. Travelling is something that domestic horses do a lot of,all the time and for the most part,they do it well. It’s not long ago that horses had to take lengthy and dangerous trips by sea to cross continents,but now we can fly them anywhere in the world. A little bit of planning and preparation goes a long way. If you are using a lorry or a trailer,the first thing to check up on are the rules of the road. Be sure that you have the correct licence for the vehicle and weight you are towing,taking into account your laden weight. You can check out the following websites for information or contact your local driving school-GOV.UK. and will also find helpful information about braking distances,driving in adverse weather etc.  
Vehicle safety is paramount before you add a horse to the equation. Make sure that your towing vehicle or lorry is fully up to date with tax,insurance,plate/MOT and all servicing and maintenance is up to date. Before every journey,a thorough check of tyre pressure (including the spare tyre), oil,water and general condition of the vehicle is vitally important. Pay particular attention to the hitch and tow bar if you are towing a trailer,and the ramp attachments if you are driving a lorry. A regular check of the floor underneath the rubber matting of your trailer or lorry is also important-horrific accidents can be avoided by keeping a watchful eye on the parts you don’t normally see.
Once you are satisfied with everything,you can begin to prepare for your journey with your horse. Familiarising your horse with his mobile ‘home from home’ in a relaxed,stress free environment is a great place to start. A few calm,quiet and experienced helpers can be a great addition. A haynet is a good way to break the boredom of travelling for the horse,and if he has plenty of room and something to nibble he will be comfortable. Sometimes travelling an inexperienced horse with a more seasoned traveller can help. Remember that if you are towing a two horse trailer,the biggest heaviest horse should be on the right of the trailer. Some people have found that a trailer mirror can help to keep a single horse settled,and if you are only travelling one horse in a trailer it can be more comfortable for him to remove the partition and use a long breast bar instead. 
Travelling in a lorry is generally a happy experience for all. A more fractious horse can often travel more quietly on the end next to the ramp. Ensure that horses are securely tied and in stalls wide enough for their comfort. If you are away for the day,some bedding on the floor can encourage the horse to stale which will help to keep him comfortable. Some people like to use cameras in their lorries or trailers and I think this is a worthwhile investment if you are travelling alone or long distances regularly. Make sure that any gas bottles are switched off at all times when not in use,and familiarise yourself with procedure in the unlikely event of an electric ramp failing.
Your horse should be adequately protected when travelling. A tail guard and travelling boots are the most widely used protection but you can also bandage the tail and legs if you prefer. Some horses prefer to travel with nothing on their legs-it’s just a case of working out what suits best. A lightweight travelling rug can help to keep the horse warm enough without the risk of sweating and a leather head collar provides a safer alternative to nylon-the stitching on a leather head collar will break or can be unpicked,whereas nylon tends to hold fast. A poll guard can help with a tall or anxious horse,but only if the horse is comfortable with things around his ears. 
Offering a horse water regularly when travelling is very important to avoid dehydration risk. If he is difficult about drinking,there are a number of products you can add to his water to encourage him. You can also try oral rehydration gels or use a 60ml dosing syringe to get water into him. Chopped up pieces of apple in a bucket of water can provide a cheap and easy alternative as the horse tends to swallow water whilst apple bobbing. The guide lines suggest that horses should only travel for a maximum of eight hours before being unloaded. They should be walked and allowed to graze with their heads down,which helps the head and throat to drain and clear after a long period with their heads tied up. The lorry or trailer should be thoroughly cleaned out,allowed to dry and fresh bedding put,in before you load up again. Travelling with their heads tied up whilst breathing in dung and ammonia fumes can contribute to horses developing post transit pleurisy and pneumonia. Horses on the road should be fed at as close to the normal times as possible,preferably not in transit and allowing some rest time after eating before loading to travel where possible. 
It is just as important that the driver looks after him or herself! Check out the hours for driving safety guidelines and if you are getting very tired behind the wheel,then you MUST STOP. The horse will be fine if you really need to take a break-better this than causing an accident. A half hour nap in a safe place (services/lay by) a cup of coffee and a brisk walk should help to perk you up. Read up on mobile phone usage when on the road and look at investing in a good car kit. Drink plenty of water and eat regularly. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Have an ‘in case of emergency’ list on your phone,in your glove box,in your trailer and/or in your lorry. This can be a huge help in the event of an accident on the road or at a horse show. Always carry plenty of spare clothes and cash/bank cards. You can never be too prepared!!!!!! 



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I am a Sports horse producer based in Ireland. That sounds very grand....the reality is that life here is crazy-trying to fit four horses,200 cattle,a baby and a husband into a day results in tales of the insane and a feeling of lurching through life with no clue what's going on. I have a keen interest in everything from planets to bones to quantum mechanics,and am a perpetual asker of the question 'why?'.

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