Horse Trailers - Ins and Outs
Horse trailers are frequently one of the tools a horse owner requires as it is almost always the case that horses need to be transported to shows, races, trail rides, vet, breeding or simply delivered to a buyer. While it is true that there are many companies that specialize in horse transport, the personally owned trailer is a must for many.
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Listings on this site by companies who sell or construct horse trailers can be located in the Horse Related Businesses section of the site, and individual listings will display product information, often photos and pricing, and ability to email, phone numbers and links to individual companies that sell Horse Trailers.
TYPES OF HORSE TRAILERS:
There are many styles and manufacturers of horse trailers, in a wide price range, depending on size and quality, but the comfort and safety of horses is the keynote. In Australia and New Zealand horse trailers are called horse floats, which gives the precise idea of what everyone is trying to achieve in the construction of vehicles designed to transport horses.
There are stock trailers, enclosed at the bottom with slats at the top for ventilation, but many trailers are made specifically for hauling of horses and are more elaborate in design and features.
Generally the smaller horse trailers are pulled by a bumper mounted hitch or frame mounted ball, and can haul one to four horses depending on the design and some of are styled to include living quarters. The larger Gooseneck trailer towed by a coupler inside the bed of a pickup truck, carry from one to six horses and usually come with more features and some fairly elaborate living quarters. Fifth wheel hitches, with a steel plate is mounted on the truck beds for hauling, have various load capabilities, depending upon the vehicle.
There are single trailers, double, and larger, with sleeping quarters, or extra hauling room, with single or double axles, in various materials with various styles of suspension. Many companies offer custom horse trailers and there are many accessories for horse trailers as well as accessories for the traveling horse, based on protection and comfort. Many horse trailers can be pulled by an SUV or a pickup truck, although semi-trailers for hauling larger numbers of horses are also available.
Horse Trailers can be purchased new or used and there are also companies that rent trailers. Things to take into consideration when buying used or renting, are checking the condition of the floor, the hitch or coupler, the doors and latches, the wheels and the brake lights. Check also that there are no protrusions of any kind inside or outside and that the mats are not slippery. Check both vehicles, the trailer and the pulling vehicle to make sure both are in good and safe working order. Exhaust systems that emit straight back under the horse trailer can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Another think to consider about horse trailers is if your horse prefers to load on the rear or the side of a trailer? Does he prefer to ride forward, backward or diagonally? Insure that there is good ventilation, while keeping the horse from becoming to cold or over-heated. Heat is of particular concern. A careful inspection whether buying or renting is always wise in the long run.
Horse trailers are one concern, but part of a good job is that when hauling horses at all, be sure to check regulations covering shipment within a state, between states and/or internationally. Health certificates are needed and always carry owner s papers or proof of registration. A negative Coggins test is mandatory for all horses traveling in the US. For long hauls, it is good to check ahead for stopping places where you can let the horses rest and stretch, which most will not do while inside a trailer. The horses should be walked slowly. Standing for long hours can reduce circulation and at the end of the journey care should be taken that the horse is not exercised or allowed to run for at least an hour after unloading.
Other factors to consider before taking loaded horse trailers out of the driveway are teaching your horse to load calmly. If the goal is just to get the horse into the trailer, think a bit more, because a horse who is too stressed for long durations of 24 or more hours can quickly become an unhealthy horse. Bandage the horses as needed, including the top of the tail, check for loose horse shoe nails and decide if the horse should be shod at all. It is also wise to pack a trailer safety kit with things that might be needed if . Plan a route, with stopping points and think constantly of driving in a passenger friendly way; slow starts, careful braking and easy corners all ensure a less stressed out horse.
Horses confined within horse trailers ride better when maximum head movement is allowed, so if you tie the horse consider tied to the cheek ring of the halter. Always offer hay and water, but no grain. Try to water prior to departure and every four hours thereafter. Feeding horses confined can cause colic; water helps prevent this plus prevents dehydration. Hay helps retain water and also keeps a horse busy.
Horses are reluctant to enter a strange enclosure, especially as in the case of horse trailers, where there is a certain about of wriggle and give to the structure under their feet and surrounding them.
1) Examining the trailer
When loading allow the horse a chance to examine the trailer. Young animals can often become accustomed to entering horse trailers by parking the trailer in the paddock and feeding hay in it.
2) Up the Ramp
When attempting to walk the horse up the ramp of a horse trailer, encourage him by voice, and treats. If he balks, try moving his feet, lifting one and moving it forward a little, then moving the others. If the horse wants to move off the left or right side of the ramp, fasten two lunging tapes, one on each side of the trailer entrance. (Ropes can cause rope burns which does not cause the horse less fear of loading.) Lead by the halter, and pull the hindquarter with the lunges. One tape can be used under the tail if needed. Or two people can clasp hand behind the horse's rump and heaving can urge the horse forward as is seen on TV when race horses are loaded into racing gates.
The goal is to train to load into horse trailers, so the experience should not be frightful to the horse, else he will always fight loading. The main thing is to avoid undue noise and excitement. The more clam and quiet every one is, the less nervous the horse will be.
4) Company and Example
If two horses are to be loaded, load a stead horse, if possible, who knows the drill first. In many cases the second horse will follow the more seasoned horse without any trouble.
5) Rewards are Remembered
Once inside the horse trailer, reward the horse. After being allowed to stand for a minute or two, back the horse out. It is better not to move the trailer the first time or so a horse loads successfully.
Repeat and practice loading, with calmness while remaining firm, and with praise and rewards. This repetitive action will establish a pattern of behavior and what kind of behavior pattern is easier on horse and owner, not to mention safety?
7) Easy Ride Experience
Drive easily, carefully and do not go a long distance the first time. Go forward without jolts, brake easily and slowly, take corners in a manner that doesn't make the horse scramble. It is good if an old trooper can ride with a horse newly in training. It is also helpful if a trusted handler s voice can be heard without putting the human in a situation that is dangerous. Horses soon become accustomed to traveling and if their introduction to horse trailers has been a gentle one, they rarely give any trouble.
As far as the purchasing of horse trailers, it is good to view selections offered by manufactures before even discussion a custom made trailer. Review and think about all safety features and features provided in the mechanics and options that allow for stress free horses. It is possible of course to buy a safe and comfortable trailer that also is designed to delight your needs as well! Many types of construction, and styles are available, with many optional features and accessories. But even for a small budget, safe construction and features are the highest priority and with the range of products available, this is obtainable.
You might also wish to visit the site section about Horse Transport.
Other HSC site areas of interest to horsemen are Horse Industry Stables/Farms/Ranches, Stallions at Stud, Horse Associations - Clubs and Horses for Sale - each area offers an online search facility.
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