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Summer travel time: A few precautions for happy trips

By Daniel H. Grove, DVM - July 7th, 2016 - Ask the Vet

AskTheVetSummer is here and show season is in full force. Many horse owners are traveling whether for shows or just fun with their horses. It is a great time to get your horses out to see new environments, explore the country or ride on the beach. In preparation for traveling, there are some important things to consider.

First, you need to make sure you have the required paperwork. This is going to require a visit from your veterinarian (This is also a good time to make sure your vaccinations are up to date!). For every state, a Coggins test and a certificate of veterinary inspection (Health Certificate) is required. The Coggin’s test detects the disease Equine Infectious Anemia. Once your horse has contracted the disease, it has it for life. The certificate of veterinary inspection is just from your veterinarian stating that the horse was free from clinical signs of disease on the date of inspection. Some states have additional requirements. It is important to check the website of the destination’s state veterinary office to determine any additional requirements.

When traveling, it is important to consider the needs of your horse along the way. You need to be sure to have feed, water, medications and your equine first aid kit with you. For most trips, taking along your own feed is practical. It will minimize the potential for colic due to changes in feed. Feeding your horse along the way is usually not challenging due to hay nets, but giving water is a little more difficult. Different water sources can discourage your animal from drinking due to variances in flavor. It may be prudent to have a source of water in your trailer. Your horse should be offered water at least every 4 hours along the way. IT may not be safe to unload your horse at every stop, so plan on being able to offer the water with your horse in the trailer. Also, some owners will train their horses at home to drink flavored water. Using something like Gatorade powder in the water can hide some of the off flavors in different water sources and encourage your horse to drink more. Also, electrolyte paste can be given to increase your horse’s water intake.

Items in your first aid kit should include
2)Bandaging material
3)Leg wraps
4)Disinfectant such as Betadine or Nolvasan
5)Stethoscope for listening to the heart and gut sounds
6)Wound ointment

When trailering your horse, make sure you take a few steps and plan ahead to make the trip as smooth as possible. First, make sure your truck, trailer and tires (Spares too!) are all in good working order. Second, plan your travel times and route with consideration of the weather. If it is cold, travel more during the day. If it is hot, consider driving at night. If it is excessively hot, maybe postpone your plans. Colics always seem to increase with temperature swings, and with excessive heat, it can be very dehydrating. When planning your route, plan on where your are going to stop and let your horses out. There are websites dedicated to equine motels. Make reservations ahead of time to minimize your stress and the stress on your horse.

With a few extra planning steps, your endeavor with your horse can be a great one. Plan ahead, get your paperwork in line, and have fun. Happy summer everyone!


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