Temperatures inside horse trailers are a concern to all when doing long distance hauling. Endurance rider Jo Christensen from Montana learned a lot on a recent trip when she installed a temperature monitor in her trailer.
We tend to haul very long distances, both in the heat and in the cold. I had to do some winter hauling today and before I left, I installed a temperature monitor inside my horse trailer. What I discovered was surprising and fascinating and changed my mind about what I thought was going on back there… so I decided to share what I learned in case of value to anyone else.
I hauled two horses about 6 hours today through the mountains here in western Montana, to a veterinary facility in another town. I was concerned about temperatures for the horses before I left.
Forecast temps along some of the route were in the low single digits. My horses have very good winter coats but I was trying to decide whether to blanket or not. I recently switched to a gooseneck trailer and realized that I had no idea what hauling conditions in the winter were like back there.
How to Install the Temperature Monitor
I bought an inexpensive temperature monitor with a base station- the kind folks hang out on the porch so they can see what outdoor conditions are like without going outside. Before I put it into use in the trailer, I verified its accuracy by comparing its readings to some equipment I know is very accurate.
I hung the sensor in a mesh bag (good air flow) about halfway up the side of the wall in the trailer that encloses the rear tack room. I didn’t put it on the roof (heat rises) or near the floor (cold air sinks). My trailer is a 3 horse slantload, and I put it in the stall that did not have a horse in it. It was not hanging on an exterior wall. My trailer is not insulated- no living quarters, just a standard small dressing area in the front.
The trailer did have about 3 inches of hard encrusted snow insulating the roof-this snow stayed the entire journey.
The side windows could not be opened- they were encrusted with ice- however we opened all three roof vents to their maximum extent and turned the so that airflow would be maximized.
When we left our house in the Bitterroot, the temp inside and outside the trailer both read 20 degrees.
Baby It’s Cold Outside!
I was using my truck temperature monitor to determine the outside temperature (I had previously verified its accuracy and that it read the same as my newly purchased gear).
We loaded the horses and took off this morning about 0345 hrs. By the time we got to Missoula (30 minutes later), temps in the trailer had risen from 20 degrees to 32 degrees. In contrast, outside temp was still 20 degrees. By the time we had been on the road for an hour, the temperature in the trailer was (are you ready for this?): FORTY FOUR DEGREES.
Along our route, outside temps dropped as low as 14 degrees.
Guess What Heat Two Horses Can Produce
At the same time, temps in the trailer NEVER dropped below 39 degrees. For the vast majority of the journey, the trailer was holding at 44 degrees. Temps inside the trailer were ALWAYS OVER TWENTY DEGREES WARMER than the outside.
We stopped for a half hour pitstop did not unload the horses. However I opened the back door and let cold wind flow into the trailer. Temps in the trailer quickly dropped to the high 20s. But they were back up to the low 40s in about half an hour.
We left both horses at the vet in Three Forks and returned with an empty trailer. All the way home, temps inside the trailer were identical to temps outside.
So Here Are My Take-Aways
First of all, it’s very easy to monitor temps in your trailer and I would highly encourage everyone to do it! I think I spent about 20 bucks on my monitoring stuff and it was easy to use and very accurate.
Secondly, I cannot believe how fast two horses could heat up a 3 horse trailer in very cold weather and keep it warm. I never dreamed that horses radiate that much heat. And to think I had been considering blanketing them.
Of course the need to blanket and other things might be different if your horses are body clipped or your trailer is different.
And of course this is an enclosed gooseneck, not a stockside trailer. But rather than just guess what might be going on back there and whether it is appropriate for your clipped horse (or sick horse or…?) just go get a temperature monitor and find out!
So What About In the Heat?
And believe me, my eyes are going to be GLUED to this thing come summer and I’m hauling in hot temperatures.
Tip for summer travel, every stop buy bags of cubed ice and sprinkle on floor of trailer in the shavings, brings temp down