BATON ROUGE, La. – Summer abounds with horse shows, competitions, sales and trail rides. However, hauling horses in Louisiana’s hot, humid summers can put them at risk for dehydration, heatstroke and exhaustion.
“While you cannot plan for every situation, taking a few precautions and practicing some common sense can help ensure that you and your horse will arrive safely,” said LSU AgCenter equine specialist Neely Walker.
Before hitting the road, horse owners should make sure their vehicle is in top towing condition. Tires on the truck and trailer should be fully inflated.
Check tires before traveling while they are cool, Walker said. In hot weather, fully inflated tires flex less and ride cooler, decreasing chances of a blowout.
Walker recommends placing two rubber mats on the trailer floor to reduce the heat on horses’ legs.
Horse owners should carry ample drinking water for horses while traveling. However, leaving water buckets hanging in the trailer while moving is a bad idea, Walker said. Sudden stops can lead to spilt water and slippery floors, which pose a safety hazard.
Walker said it is best to haul in the early morning or evening when temperatures are cooler. Open trailer vents to create airflow, she said, but don’t allow horses to ride with their head out of the trailer window. Flying debris and bugs can cause serious eye injuries.
If the destination is more than 12 hours away, stop during the trip to unload horses and give them a break from the trailer, Walker said. Check their vitals and offer water every four or five hours. Each stop should last a minimum of 20 minutes.
As always, Walker said, make sure to bring copies of all important identification paperwork. Also, expect the unexpected, she said. If you get stuck on an interstate, ensure as much ventilation as possible inside the trailer without unloading the horses.