Horses are herd animals that are used to open plains. When confined in small spaces without adequate companionship or exercise, it can be an immensely stressful experience for them. Travel can be extremely disruptive to their natural needs, but with a few tips, you can help prepare them for their journey so it is not traumatizing.
Make sure your horse is healthy enough to travel
Before going anywhere with your horse, make sure they get a full checkup from their vet. Travel can be can hard on your horse’s health. The stress puts pressure on their cardiovascular system, they’ll be exposed to new bacteria and viruses that can make them sick, and the travel itself is physically taxing. Never travel without permission from your vet.
Keep their carrier clean and dust free
Dusty, dirty bedding can be very irritating for your horse. It can get in their eyes, dry out their skin, and cause respiratory issues. Make sure the carrier is cleaned out and supplied with fresh bedding before traveling.
Give them full access to hay and fresh water
The stress and fatigue of traveling can be very taxing, so your horse will need to eat a little more than usual. Also, dehydration is a real concern on the road, especially in the warmer months. Make sure they have access to enough food and water for the entire journey. Also remember to prepare a contingency supply in case there are any delays on the road. You never know when you may suffer a breakdown, flat, or unusually heavy traffic that could add a few extra hours to your journey.
Use calming oils
Aromatherapy for horses can be a lifesaver on a long journey. Before you get them ready for their trip, be sure to groom them well with their usual Equi-Spa products so that their coat, tail and mane are infused with the essential oils. Once on the road the barrage on new smells will be lessened due to the presence of the familiar Equi-Spa fragrances.
In addition you could try spraying the carrier and bedding with a light mist of Gentle Anti-Septic Lavender Spray. Lavender is lauded for its calming properties and will help promote relaxation, and in many cases drowsiness, helping the journey to pass more quickly. (This trick will work on humans too! If you find yourself struggling to fall asleep at night, try a spray or two underneath your pillow.)
One other solution is to introduce Show-Thyme Calming Oil to their grooming routine. This blend of essential oils was specially formulated to promote a sense of calm and well-being. Introducing this oil before the journey will help trigger positive sense memories while they’re on the road, helping the horse stay calm and relaxed.
I also recommend standing wraps and bell boots, but only if your horse is used to them and it’s not hot outside. Otherwise, they can cause problems. These tips will help reduce your horse’s stress when long-distance travel is required.