Emergency Transportation for Horses

You should be prepared to ship a horse if it is in need of emergency care at a veterinary hospital.

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(Editor’s Note: This is a book excerpt from Understanding Equine First Aid, by Michael A. Ball, DVM)

Driving with a trailer full of horses is an ordinary, everyday task for most horse people. The task can become more difficult, stressful, and sometimes dangerous in an emergency situation. You should be prepared to ship a horse if it is in need of emergency care at a veterinary hospital. If you have your own trailer, make sure that it is in working order at all times (the truck, too) and always have a back-up plan. Be prepared to make the trip at a moment’s notice. Get the safety equipment for the vehicle and trailer in order well in advance. Such equipment includes spare tires and jacks for both.

Remember that a cell phone can be an amazingly useful tool in an emergency. Don’t forget to prepare driving directions and take along a map so you’ll know how to get to the veterinary hospital. If you have to rely on a commercial shipper or friend to haul your horse, know well in advance who to call and ALWAYS have a back-up plan in case of an emergency.

A horse that has severe lacerations or a potential fracture is one most likely to require a trip to a veterinary hospital. The important thing is to remain calm and think the situation through. Many injuries are made worse by not taking the appropriate course of action prior to shipping the animal. If the emergency happens at home, try to get your vet there as quickly as possible. If you are already away from home with the injured horse, try to obtain a veterinary evaluation before transporting the severely injured animal

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Written by:

Michael A. Ball, DVM, completed an internship in medicine and surgery and an internship in anesthesia at the University of Georgia in 1994, a residency in internal medicine, and graduate work in pharmacology at Cornell University in 1997, and was on staff at Cornell before starting Early Winter Equine Medicine & Surgery located in Ithaca, New York. He was an FEI veterinarian and worked internationally with the United States Equestrian Team. He died in 2014.

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