Summer hauling of horses, tips

Steve Borel, LSU AgCenter

Opportunities for "horsing around" are endless in the summer.

Horse shows, competitions, sales and trail rides are just a haul away. But hauling your horse during the hot and humid Louisiana summer can pose serious health risks, including dehydration, heatstroke and exhaustion.

Neely Walker of the LSU AG Center recommends following hot-weather hauling safety tips to prevent detours from summer fun: Open trailer vents to create airflow. Do not allow your horse to ride with its head out of the trailer window. Flying debris and bugs can cause serious eye injuries.

If you are stuck in traffic on a highway, do whatever you can to ventilate the trailer without unloading the horses. Stop and check your horse's vitals and offer water every four to five hours. Each stop should last a minimum of 20 minutes to allow your horse to relax and rest.

Carry ample drinking water for your horse. But don’t leave water buckets hanging in the trailer while hauling. Sudden stops can lead to spilled water, slippery floors and other potential hazards.

Use two rubber mats on the trailer floor. This will reduce the heat on your horse's legs. Avoid hauling during the warmest time of the day. Park in shaded areas with air movement.

Make sure your vehicle is in top towing condition. Ensure all tires on your truck and trailer are fully inflated before traveling. In hot weather, fully inflated tires flex less and lessen the chance of a blowout.

If your destination is more than 12 hours away, unload your horse and give it an eight-hour break from the trailer.

As always with horses, expect the unexpected. While you cannot plan for every situation, by taking a few precautions and practicing some common sense, you can help to ensure that you and your horse arrive safely at your destination.