You’re driving a loaded horse trailer in winter despite rain, snow, ice, and a low wind chill factor. Why? Unfortunately, schedules for breeding, competition, and sale require that horses be transported in all seasons and weather despite increased risks. Another possible reason to haul horses in winter might be to evacuate because of a natural or man-made disaster. Yet another reason might be a medical emergency.

Hauling horses in winter escalates the hazards for driver and animals. The challenges are to maintain your horse’s health and arrive safely–and on schedule. The risks of winter require more preparation than the same journey in other seasons. Use common sense in balancing your need to meet a schedule with the hazards of transport. An important planning step is investigating weather conditions at your destination. “We like to minimize great changes in weather when we can,” says David Jensen, DVM, of San Marcos Equine Practice in Los Alamos, Calif., who handles long-distance horse shipping. “Pay attention to weather when you can. Don’t ship a horse right after he shows or races in Florida, and then go to colder weather in New York.”

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