Happy Tails

useventing.com

Happy Tails

one on the driver’s side. Roads are usually

crowned in the middle, so putting the

heavier load on this side will help balance

the trailer.

Driving a horse trailer requires some

special precautions. The extra weight will

require longer stopping and starting distances,

and you will not be able to accelerate

as quickly as when you do not have

the trailer, especially if you have a downsized

vehicle. It is best to exercise caution

and travel at least five miles under

the speed limit and leave plenty of room

between you and the vehicle in front of

you. At night be careful not to drive any

faster than it would take to stop in the

distance you can see ahead, and exercise

extreme caution on wet or icy roads.

Amber Henderson of Raleigh, North

Carolina spent a year working as a professional

truck driver. A graduate H-A Pony

Clubber who also spent several years

working for Nanci Lindroth, Henderson

has competed to preliminary level, and

has hauled horses to numerous events

and offers some tips learned from spending

many hours on the road.

“I pay attention to my mirrors so that I

know when there is a car on my right or

left,” says Henderson. “I also stay further

back depending on what kind of vehicle is

in front of me. For instance, a motorcycle

can stop in half a second, but it can take

more time than that for you to react.”

Change lanes gradually and always use

your turn signals. Keep in mind that

there are many drivers on the road who

are unfamiliar with the intricacies of

hauling horses. They probably don’t consider

your stopping distance and the fact

that there is a live animal on board when

they pull out in front of you to avoid

getting stuck behind your slow-moving

vehicle, but you can be prepared by staying

alert to other cars on the road.

As you approach traffic lights, you

should be aware of how much time you

have to make it through the intersection,

and how much time it would take for you

to stop if the light changes. Henderson

says, “I pick a spot where I know if the

light changes, I’m going to go or stop.”

Also look to see whether cars are waiting

at the intersection and if someone waiting

to make a left-hand turn might try to

get through the light at the last second.

Always consider the horses in the trailer

as you are driving. Give them time to

prepare for stops, don’t accelerate quickly,

and make sure the trailer has cleared

the turn, straightened out, and the

horses have regained their balance before

you return to normal speed. Horses constantly

have to balance themselves as the

trailer shifts around, and it can be tiring

for them. They can’t see what’s coming,

so they are not prepared for sudden stops

or turns. If you hear or feel anything

that isn’t normal, stop and check it out.

Consider the fact that the horses will

probably be easier to load for their next

trip if this trip is a comfortable one.

Travel over bumpy roads carefully

and use a lower gear when traveling up

or down steep grades. On long grades,

downshift the transmission and slow to

45 mph or less to reduce the possibility

of overheating.

Above: Amber Henderson has evented through

the preliminary level and spent a year working

as a professional truck driver, where she learned

a lot about safe and comfortable driving habits.

Here she puts on a shipping boot in preparation

for hauling a horse. Left: And don't forget the

tail. Protect it by applying a wrap.

Precious Cargo

Barrington says that she prefers to wake

up early in the morning, even one or two

o’clock, rather than leaving in the evening

to drive overnight. While she will drive a

12-hour stretch, for longer trips she plans

to stay overnight, and carries a book listing

overnight stabling. “We try to find a place

with turnout, but that’s not always possible.

The horses are okay in a stall, too.”

Travel can be stressful for horses. Pack

food and water from home so that your

horse will be encouraged to maintain its

usual eating habits, which will help prevent

colic. Sometimes horses don’t like

the flavor of water that they are not used

to. You can mask the flavor by adding

Gatorade powder, but be sure to accustom

your horse to this practice at home, well in

advance of your trip.

Barrington points out that since horses

tend to drink less than usual on the trailer,

if she travels long distances to an event she

tries to arrive a day early so that they have

time to rest and rehydrate.

Studies have shown that ulcers are

common in competition horses and can

begin during travel. Equine Gastric Ulcer

Syndrome (EGUS) causes painful stomach

ulceration that can lead to recurrent colic,

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