You’ve got the air conditioner on blast. Your favorite shades are at the ready. An ice coffee is in the cup holder. It’s time for a summer road trip and you’re ready to ride in style. But are your horses?
Here are some helpful hints from blueridgetrailer.com
Summer travel poses a range of health risks to your horses–without proper horse trailer ventilation, they can become stressed from the temperature or even develop an illness like heat exhaustion or shipping fever.
Whether you’re looking for a new horse trailer or considering how to improve one you’ve already got, these horse trailer ventilation tips will help both you and your horses enjoy relaxed, cool rides this summer.
General Tips for Summer Hauling with Horses
Before we get to our horse trailer ventilation tips, be aware that there are several other important ways you can keep your horses cool on the road.
- Look for Windows in the Front and Back When it comes to ventilation, window placement is even more important than the number or type of windows in your horse trailer. They won’t do you any good if they’re not positioned to create a flow of air throughout the trailer. Make sure there are windows at both the front of the trailer and the back. The back window or windows should be large–you can put screens or bars over them so they can be kept wide open without posing a safety issue for your horses. If there’s a dressing room or tack room wall at the back of your trailer, it should have a window, too–otherwise the air from the front gets blocked, preventing a current as you drive.
- Install Fans to Promote Airflow Trailer fans are a smart, simple way to increase ventilation in your horse trailer. Common sense would tell you to point the fans at your horses. The whole point is to cool them off, right? Well, yes–but positioning your fans that way won’t help. Again, it’s all about creating a current of air throughout the trailer. Make sure that your back fans are facing out of the window (in other words, pointing at the cars behind you). That way, the fans will pull air from front to back, cooling your horses as it flows by.
- Wire Your Fans to an Auxiliary Battery I discovered the beauty of horse trailer fans a long time ago. But I had to learn this extra step the hard way. It was July and I was enjoying a hunt trail ride with friends. It was a great day, but we ran late–partly because we caught a horse headed towards the highway before we left–and partly because, well, of course we had happy hour after the ride! When I finally got back to my trailer, my fans had been running for 4.5 hours. How do you think my tow vehicle battery way doing? Yeah, not great. There I was in a town with no cell towers and a dead truck battery. My friend went to fetch my husband several counties away–and I set my mind to getting an auxiliary fan battery as soon as possible.
- Already Have a Trailer with Poor Ventilation? If you already have a trailer with inadequate windows, you can use fans to boost ventilation–again, just make sure to point the ones that are furthest back out towards the road. You won’t get the same cooling effect that you would with proper window placement, but it can help. If possible, consider adding windows to your trailer. Depending on how it’s framed, a solid dress wall can sometimes have windows added to it. You might also replace your back trailer doors if they don’t have windows.
- Plan ahead before you get behind the wheel. If you are traveling a long distance, be sure you know exactly where you are going and what the road conditions are like. Getting lost or stuck in construction can cause delays. The least amount of time your horse spends in the trailer, the better!
- Get up and get a move on! Traveling in the morning can be extremely beneficial for your horse. The temperatures are nice and cool which will really help your horse.
- No blankets, no wraps, nothing! That’s right. Let your horse go naked! Get rid of the blankets, coolers, anti-sweat sheets, even protective boots or wraps (if you and your horse are both experienced travelers). The more skin that is exposed to the air, the better.
- Ventilation is key. Make sure every single window and vent are open in the trailer during travel. If the window is large, make sure that you put bars or screens up to keep your horse safe. Don’t wait until the morning of to do this! The air movement will create a nice breeze through the trailer. Depending on the layout of your trailer, it is also a great idea to put fans in the front of the trailer facing the back to aid in circulation. If those fans are wired to a separate battery (not off the truck battery) then you will not run down the truck battery if they are left on accidentally.
- Water and fluids. Make sure you offer water to your horse several times during long hauls, especially if it is hot out. If your horse is notorious for not drinking on the road, load them up with fluids prior to leaving. Give him soaked hay, bran mashes, or other wet feed sources several days before your leave.
- Bring familiar water. Some horses will not drink unfamiliar water. They don’t like the smell or taste of it. If your horse is like this, make sure you bring water from home! You can also consider flavoring the water with Gatorade, packaged Koolaide, etc.
- Soak the hay in water. If you plan on providing your horse with hay while on the road, consider soaking it with water. This will help to keep your horse hydrated on the road and will also minimize the dust.
- Another popular tip, is dont't skimp on your horses' safety. Buy bags of ice and spread them in the stalls where your horses are standing. This will bring the temps down.
Traveling in the heat can be stressful but by following these tips, you can help to reduce that stress and keep your horse cool. It’s possible!