Horse Travel

Traveling with your horse can be a challenge for even the most experience drivers, let alone for the inexperienced traveller. With the increasing amount of traffic and consistently hard conditions, it is important to arm yourself with everything you need prior to travelling.

What safety pre-checks should I complete before traveling with a horse?

It is always a good idea to give your horse carrying vehicle a good once over prior to any trip, as these basic checks could very well save yours, your horses or someone else’s life…

Check for signs of wear and tear or any weaknesses at weld sites, check for any rusting.

Look under the vehicle and ensure that the condition of the flooring is safe. It is a good idea to at least once a year, remove the floor mats/cover and inspect the flooring thoroughly, especially if you haul a lot.

Check your tyres, ensure they are inflated correctly and aren’t wearing in a specific area that could indicate other issues with your axles. Make sure that your spare tyre/s are inflated and ready to go. Check over your tyre changing equipment to see if that too, is in good and operable condition. Heavy duty trolley jacks are a good idea to keep on hand.

Every unit should have a fire extinguisher, fitted and checked under the appropriate standards. If you have an extinguisher/s that have not been moved for a while, take it out of the bracket and ensure that the powder is still loose – check the guidelines on the cylinder.

Wheel chocks and safety triangles/indicators are also handy items to have on board.

traveling horse

What do you need when traveling with a horse?

Whether it is for competition or just relocation, there are a number of basic pieces of equipment that you should carry with you at all times when traveling with a horse, they include:

  • - Water Bucket/s
  • - Hose, connectors, joiners
  • - Horse feed, hay, hay net and feed tub
  • - Spare halter
  • - Fly sheet, fly mask, bug spray
  • - Basic farrier equip such as hoof pick, hoof cutters and a rasp
  • - Shovel, poop scoop and poop cart or tub
  • - Shavings for the float floor
  • - Leg protection – always ensure the horses legs don’t get too hot
  • - Horse specific first aid kit.

For many seasoned travellers, it is important to know that you should always carry a second or third of everything. 

How long can horses travel for before needing to rest? 

A contentious subject at best, it really depends on the terrain, the temperature and of course, the horse. Some folks say at the most 9 hours, some say 6, others say 18 hours maximum. Once again, it is important to take many varying factors into consideration. Is it rough terrain you’ll be traveling over, is it hot or cold weather, is it raining, do you feed and water while traveling, is the vehicle well insulated and aired and so forth.

Horses that are imported and exported can often spend up to 16 hours on a plane, however they do have specialised veterinary care around the clock and all the needs catered for.

The most vital thing to take into consideration is the horse’s health and comfort. Ideally, travelling and stopping to rest, water and feed the horse should occur every 4-6 hours.

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Should I feed my horse while they travel?

Feeding your horse whilst you are travelling can pose a number of health risks such as airway issues. This is due to the animal not being able to put their head down into the natural grazing position to clear their airway.
It is however, an excellent idea to feed your horse prior to travel in order to assist their digestive system and to decrease the risk of stomach acid creating severe discomfort for them.

The equine stomach is only able to hold 7-11 litres or, 2-3 gallons at a time. Depending on how large the feed is and what it contains, hay or grain or water, the average time that food remains in the stomach is 3-4 hours, so food may remain in the stomach from as little as 15 minutes through to 12 hours.

If however, the stomach doesn’t have any food in it, the acidic juice can accumulate and reach or splash up and contact the unprotected upper part of the stomach, burning the squamous lining and causing stomach ulcers or at the very least, major discomfort.

feeding horse

So if choosing to feed prior to travel, ensure that it is a reasonable feed that includes a decent amount of roughage or fibre so that it remains in the horse’s stomach for a longer period of time than a grain style feed.

The take home message here is to ensure that for most time, your horse has something of substance in their stomach. Extended periods of time without food or water can not only increase the risk of discomfort and ulcers, but also makes them more susceptible to colic.
Remember, prevention is better than the cure.

Do I need any documentation when traveling with horses?

Yes, depending what part of the country you are traveling from, through and to, you will need to travel with a waybill. Many part of Australia are classified as tick country and it is vital to stick to the regulations regarding the control of these pests.
Before moving horses within most states in Australia, you must:

  • - register your property with a property identification code (PIC)
  • - complete an online waybill, or contact the appropriate departments when
    • - moving horses between cattle tick zones or to slaughter
    • - a horse is sold or there is a change in ownership
    • - a travel permit is issued
  • - obtain a travel permit if you intend to move horses
    • - between cattle tick zones
    • - book in to have your horse sprayed at an appropriate facility
      to a quarantine facility for export.

For further information regarding the required documentation, contact your local government department for the most up to date rules and paperwork.

We hope this helps make your journey a lot less stressful.
Happy Trails.