Reprinted from The Horse Report with permission from the Center for Equine Health, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis (UC Davis).
Tranquilization and Familiarization
Many horses have been familiarized with transport from a young age. Even many that have never been transported before will often readily allow themselves to be loaded and confined in a transport vehicle. A small minority of horses could be difficult to handle during transport. Tranquilization by a veterinarian might facilitate loading and assist with the safe handling of the horse during transport. However, the medication can interfere with temperature regulation so should be done with caution.
Quick Tips to Reduce Transport Stress Before Travel
- Train the horse to load, unload, and haul quietly. This will drastically reduce the stress levels right from the start of travel. Loading is by far the most stressful single aspect of transport (other than ultra-long duration hauling).
- Make sure your preventive health program, particularly vaccinations, is up to date. Vaccinations take two to three weeks to provide protection.
- Make sure you have the proper health records for any regulatory requirements, especially if crossing state lines or country borders.
- Select a van or trailer that suits your horse’s size and temperament, preferably one that allows the horse to lower its head as this can make a significant difference. Make a safety check of the trailer.
- Inspect the transport vehicle for cleanliness and sanitize, if necessary.
- If hiring a commercial transport company, make sure the grooms and other caretakers are experienced in handling horses and their care.