Transporting Equine Logically

After a long harsh winter many horse owners are hauling their horses to training facilities, horse shows, trail riding events and other locations.
Transporting Equine Logically - Articles

Updated: August 8, 2017

Transporting Equine Logically

Responsibility of Equine Haulers

  • Equine haulers must familiarize the horse to hauling regiments and select a travel route that allows for less stress for the equine. If possible choose a route that includes locations for accessible rest stops and refueling facilities and includes smooth roadways.
  • Drivers need to adjust their driving techniques when making turns on twisty roadways and in stoppage to assist the horse in maintaining its balance.
  • Research has proven that a horse hauled for a combined 4 hours of coming and going, experiences stress symptoms that may affect performance, temperament and the digestive system, both short and long term. (Penn State University April 17, 2014 Hidden Hazards Equine Short Course - Sources of Stress and Immune Response - Victor S. Cortese, D.V.M. Director Cattle-Equine Immunology and Biologics, Zoetis Inc.)

Pre-travel Checks

  • Most seasoned haulers know that pre-travel checks of towing vehicle and trailer will avoid unnecessary problems. Preparation should include safety check of both towing vehicle and trailer, including tire pressure.
  • The towing combination must be properly licensed and inspected following national and state regulations. Often those hauling horses are not familiar with regulations, weight limits, gross weight combinations and safety requirements that are law for combinations of vehicle and trailer.
  • Many horse owners would be surprised to learn that their towing combination is not licensed or registered properly and is not legal for travel. Nobody wants to learn they are in violation of regulations through a police check or stop.
  • The PA Department of Transportation and/or the State Police, especially the PA State Police Bureau of Patrol, can assist horse owners in education on how to be in compliance with state and federal hauling regulations.

Major Concern When Hauling

  • During hauling there is concern for the health and welfare of the horse. It is the driver's responsibility during transport to maintain conditions that will constitute a safe and healthy delivery upon arrival at the destination.
  • Ventilation is very important to ensure that the horse has vital respiratory abilities and is not affected by the damaging ill effects from odors that can arise from vehicle exhaust systems and manure/urination deposits.
  • In cooler weather conditions horses often overheat due to excessive blanketing and blocking of proper ventilation. If hauling during cold or hot weather stop and check the condition of the horse after a short period of travel time. If the horse is sweating, and especially if blanketed, then the horse may be overly bundled.
  • The opposite happens in warmer weather. Many owners tend to open side windows and panels of trailers to allow the horse to place their head out into the rushing air, thinking it will keep the horse cooler. This practice can contribute to foreign articles becoming lodged in the eyes and in the respiratory system of the horse. A better practice is to keep the horse from having the ability to project the head out of the trailer and utilize ventilation practices of a different manner.

Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA)

  • The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that drivers of hauling rigs must take 30 minute break periods during an eight hour travel time.
  • Early in June of this year, the FMCSA announced the granting of a limited one year exemption for this mandatory 30 minute rest period during the hours of service regulations for commercial motor vehicle drivers transporting livestock, including horses.
  • The exemption of commercial livestock hauling is to minimize the potential of rising temperatures inside a trailer that could harm the animals aboard.
  • All horse trailer/vehicles combinations that are not commercial are subject to hours-of service exemptions already existing for those occasionally transporting their own horses within a 150 mile radius of home and not crossing a state or international boundary.

Conclusion

  • All drivers of vehicle/horse trailer combinations must take into consideration regulations, safety checks on the entire towing combination and concentrate on how to make the trailer ride as comfortable and safe as possible for the horse.
  • A horse that is hauled properly often becomes a seasoned hauler. One that has had a "bad" experience may cause frustration for the owner by refusing to load or not behaving during transit, which can and does affect the performance and health of the horse upon arrival at the destination site.