Ventilation is important in keeping your horse comfortable. Photo courtesy of Lydia Whitlow Darnell

Tips to Get You and Your Horse Safely to the Show

We travel hundreds of miles to go to horse shows, whether that be by car or plane. Sometimes those long trips are filled with blasting your favorite song, calling anyone who will answer their phone, or peering out the window wondering when you will ever get there. Anything can happen while driving and, of course, the safety of yourself and the horses comes first. Making a checklist and checking everything over will help prevent bad things from happening.

We prepared a list to check before heading out and hitting the road.

  • If your trainer is hauling your horse, always discuss traveling costs with your trainer beforehand.
  • Plan travel costs and route. Make sure you have made hotel reservations and know your route. Be aware of any detours and weather permitting.
  • Make sure your horse is wrapped or has on shipping boots. This helps with the prevention of any sort of injury that may happen in the trailer. It is important that your horse is used to being wrapped in the trailer before hauling, some horses are not comfortable and cause kicking.
  • On long trips, try to offer your horse water or electrolytes. You should try to offer them water every three to four hours. If it is hotter this may dictate frequency. It is important to keep your horse hydrated while traveling. If your horse does not like the available water, try adding Gatorade or Kool Aid to add some flavor.
  • Make sure to have up to date health papers and Coggins when traveling out of state. While traveling out of state, it is required to have a 30 day health paper as well as an up to date Coggins test. Both can be obtained by a veterinarian.
  • Preferably, if you have the chance to feed your horse before traveling. Otherwise you can provide a hay bag in the trailer to keep your horse occupied. Make sure to limit the amount of hay until reaching the destination.
  • Horses tend to lose weight on long travels. Be aware of your horse’s weight and condition. They tend to lose weight because of the high stress that comes with traveling.
  • travel 3Check all equipment before your departure; make time to do a full safety check of your truck and trailer. Be sure to check tire pressure and wear, all doors are shut, horses are comfortable, and hitch is properly assembled.
  • Keep air moving. Ventilation is important in keeping your horse comfortable. In many cases, all vents and windows should be open during the warm months, this keeps horses from getting to hot. Even in the winter keep some vents open to keep the air flowing and give your horse some fresh air.
  • It is a good idea to use shavings in your trailer to give your horse cushion and to soak up urine. Make sure to remove any manure after hauling to preserve the life of the flooring in your trailer.

We have also provided some travel tips for when exhibitors are traveling without their four legged partner. Whether it be camping or staying in a hotel, it is important to be prepared in any situation.

  • Make a check list of anything you might need.
  • Always keep your valuables with you, whether that is in your carry on or purse.
  • Be prepared for any change in weather, gate changes, detours, or anything that might affect your plan of travel. It is important to have a backup plan if you are unable to get to the horse show on time.
  • When safe, talk on the phone. Driving or sitting in an airport can get pretty boring at times. Try calling people to pass the time and catch up with old friends.
  • Losing luggage in an airport happens more than people think. Try to keep anything that might be of value with you or keep an extra pair of clothes in your carry on.
  • Have something to do to pass the time. Try reading a book or catching up on work. Being a college student, I plan on bringing lots of homework to help pass the time.
  • Complete all errands before leaving for the show. This will help reduce stress and enable you to enjoy your time at the horse show.
  • Pack smarter not harder if you plan on flying. You do not want to have to pay extra for heavy luggage! Make sure you pack the appropriate clothing for any type of weather; you don’t want to pack cloths you don’t need.
  • Book flights and hotels as soon as your show is confirmed. You can always cancel last minute.
    Make sure you have all your show necessities. Whether it is a hammer and a nail or extra hoof black, you never know what you may need!

We got to talk with some experienced exhibitors that aren’t just experienced in the show pen but also in traveling. They have provided us with some of their own special tips that may help you along the way.

Shari TordoffGreg and Shari Tordoff: As our daughters get older, we try to make sure they take responsibility, get organized, and have a process. Another thing we do is use “Notes” on my iPhone and we remind each other of things that need done and add them to our To-Do list. We also use it when at a horse show to remind us of something to bring next time. Our daughters are in charge of doing the packing of show cloths and what they need to wear. While my husband is in charge of loading the motorhome full of beverages, water, ice, and fuel. Working full-time and having two young daughters competing means everyone has to pitch in. We plan ahead as much as we can and when things go wrong or something gets forgotten, you have to just roll with it! There are a few things duct tape, black paint or a good laugh can’t fix.

pattyPatty Bogosh: I am like most Amateurs who travel the horse show circuit – I juggle work, horses and personal life. This means I must plan out my entire show year in advance. My trainer (Valerie Kearns) hauls my horse to the shows so when I travel, I simply have to focus on getting myself there. As far as packing, if I am driving to a show, it is much easier because it’s okay if you over-pack a little (as long as everything fits in your car). When flying, I need some help because traveling with boots and jeans is tough (especially when it’s 7-10 days – those jeans are heavy!) So when flying, I will start planning about three weeks ahead of time for what needs to go in the trailer or that I need to ship. This way, I can get the dry cleaning done, purchase all the necessities needed that must be packed in the trailer and work with my trainer’s schedule to get it loaded so it’s not in the way.

Nicole KuklinskiNicole Kuklinski: Even though I am only 19, I have been traveling to shows alone (may it be driving pulling my camper or flying) since I received my driver’s license when I was 16. Some tips that I could give would be to carry a can of mace defense spray with you and an emergency road side kit. I carry both with me when I travel. You never know when you might break down, or run into a bad side of town. When I’m alone, I tend to talk on the phone a lot to pass the time. Sometimes I get bored and tired while driving, so talking on the phone keeps me occupied. When I fly, I always keep my valuables/important items with me in my carry on or purse. I’ve had luggage lost before, and it isn’t a good feeling knowing that your valuable items are in that suitcase somewhere. Traveling on your own really isn’t that bad, just be sure to make smart decisions!