Loading and Hauling a Horse: Using Your Own Vehicle

If you should decide to use your own vehicle there are things you can do to make your trip go more smoothly. Every time you move your horse you should have certain things in your vehicle, your file and a first aide kit. Your file should include a new health certificate, a current Coggins test, photos of the horse from different angles, any registration papers and any paperwork from your vet on medications or special treatment. You should also have a first aide kit for your horse (and yourself) in the vehicle. Make sure you know how to use the items in the kit and are comfortable with providing emergency care. Remember that some horses dislike being moved and may react very differently than they normally would, so do not remove the horse from the trailer unless you have a firm hold on its lead rope or are in an enclosed area, especially if they are sick or injured. Try to administer any care they need within the trailer. Also, please remember to stop frequently and provide water and hay. Since water and hay differ greatly from place to place you may want to carry bottles of water and hay from your area so as not to upset sensitive tummies.

You may also want to obtain a roadside service contract. Some new vehicles some with roadside service as part of the purchase, but this will not cover your trailer. Some companies offer an upgraded service that will cover the trailer, but they will not move your trailer with live animals in it. The one company that we know covers live animals and trailers is US Rider. Horse people began this company and the program is designed with horse owners in mind. You can check out their program and services at www.USRider.org. NEVER, remove your horse form the trailer on the side of the road unless the police have instructed you to or the horse needs to be removed for treatment by a vet. Traffic noises, fear or any number of other things may cause your horse to bolt. If you must remove the horse because of an accident make sure you have a well-fitted halter and a sturdy lead rope on him/her.

Because of the high price of gasoline there are a number of things you can do to make your trip less expensive. These tips not only make your gas mileage better, but can also make your tow vehicle last longer and make break downs on the road less of an event.

  • Make sure your vehicle is properly tuned – This can result in an average 4 percent increase in fuel efficiency. Replacing a faulty oxygen sensor can improve fuel mileage as much as 40 percent.
  • Check and Replace Air Filter – Replacing a clogged air filter can improve your vehicle’s mileage up to 10 percent.
  • Keep Tires Properly Inflated – Proper inflation can increase mileage by around 3 percent. An added benefit is that properly inflated tires are safer and last longer.
  • Use Recommended Grade of Motor Oil – Using the incorrect weight can increase fuel consumption by 1-2 percent. Look for motor oil that says “Energy Conserving” on the API performance symbol to be sure it contains friction-reducing additives. Using synthetic oils can also increase the life of your engine.
  • Drive Sensibly – Aggressive driving can lower your fuel mileage by one-third. Sensible driving is also safer for your horse(s).
  • Observe the Speed Limit – The Department of Energy says that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.21 for each gallon of fuel. Driving the speed limit has the added benefit of increasing safety.
  • Avoid Excessive Idling – Idling uses a great deal of gas and you get nowhere.
  • Use Cruise Control – Using cruise control when you can helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save fuel. Do not use cruise control if you are tired or fatigued. In fact, if you are tired or fatigued, you shouldn’t be trailering horses.
  • Use Overdrive Gears – When your engine speed goes down, your mileage goes up. An added benefit is that using overdrive gears reduces engine wear.
  • Lighten the Load– Remove unnecessary weight from the vehicle.

In addition to your vehicle you must also make sure your trailer is safe and can make the trip. Check the floor out and make sure there are no “soft” spots in the flooring. If there is any rain damage to the floor make sure you get that repaired before ever loading your horse into it, even if it is a short trip to the vet’s. The most common trailer accident is from floors giving way and the cost of that preventable accident is more than it would be to just fix the floor. You should also check the tires for rot (since most of us use our trailers so infrequently and they sit for long periods of time) and insure that they are properly inflated. You should also check the jack stand and frame to insure that they are sturdy and have no damage. When not in use you should cover your trailer and trailer tires so that you reduce any damage for the elements.

We hope that you find these tips helpful and make your trip with your horse less stressful. Enjoy the road and enjoy your horse!

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