How to Help Your Horse Relax When Trailering

Hauling a horse can be a stressful experience, both for you and your horse. While it is important to get your horse used to trailering, it is also important to take measures to help them stay calm during the process. Here are some tips to help your horse stay relaxed during trailering.

First, make sure your horse is familiar and comfortable with the trailer. Before you plan to haul your horse, it is important to introduce them to the trailer and get them used to the process. Make sure the trailer is in good condition and that your horse is familiar with the loading and unloading process.

Second, provide your horse with a comfortable ride. Make sure the trailer is well-ventilated and that the floor is properly cushioned. If your horse is used to blankets and sheets, provide them with these items to help them feel more comfortable.

Third, plan your route ahead of time. Try to stick to roads that are well-maintained and that do not have a lot of traffic. This will help your horse stay calm and reduce the amount of stress they experience.

Fourth, provide your horse with plenty of breaks. Give your horse a chance to stretch their legs and take a break from the trailer. Make sure the area is safe and that there are no potential dangers before letting your horse out.

Finally, provide your horse with comfort items. If your horse is used to a certain toy, blanket, or treat, bring these items along with you. This will help your horse feel more comfortable and relaxed.

By following these tips, you can help your horse stay calm while trailering. Taking the time to make sure your horse is comfortable and relaxed will help make the process much easier for both of you.

14 Easy Ways to Calm a Horse While Travelling [on a Road-Trip]

Horses are naturally fearful and flighty animals and can get easily stressed while travelling.

In this article we will discuss each of these calming techniques in detail, so your horse can enjoy stress-free travel.

There are a number of transit-related diseases that your horse can contract while on the road.

Research conducted in 2015 looked into the health problems and risk factors associated with long-haul transport in horses (source: ). Based on the veterinary reports of the horses that were affected during travel, the most common issues included respiratory problems (27%), gastrointestinal problems (27%), pyrexia (19%), traumatic injuries (15%) and even death (12%).

Therefore is is so important that you plan and prepare for the journey. Ensuring that your horse is comfortable and calm while travelling, as well as ensuring there are no problems with your vehicle, are both vital for your horse’s wellbeing.

There are many precautions that you can take to minimise the risk of sickness, which we will discuss in detail in this article.

Ensure your horse has plenty of ventilation.

Ensuring your horse has lots of ventilation while travelling is very important, particularly on long journeys and during warm weather. Horses heat up 10 times faster than humans, so you can imagine how much heat they release. Along with the heat from the sun, a horses trailer can become dangerously hot very quickly.

, If your horse’s core temperature reaches 105ºF, his metabolic system, his organs and circulatory system may begin to shut down. Thus, it’s important to keep windows and vents open to allow lots of air to circulate through the vehicle.

However, you need to ensure that the breeze isn’t blowing directly onto your horses face. Too much breeze can dry out horses eyes. Additionally, you need to make sure that the air isn’t blowing hay onto your horse’s face, which can cause respiratory problems. To avoid this, you should dampen the hay slightly before placing it in hay-nets.

Additionally, please inspect the exhaust system of the vehicle on a regular basis. Keeping engines in proper maintenance can decrease its emissions which are a hazard to your horse. If your vehicle has a vertical exhaust, make sure it’s taller than the ceiling of the van or trailer and thus, not flowing into the intake vent. Breathing in exhaust fumes can damage your horse’s respiratory system and breathing of excessive fumes in a trailer without proper ventilation, can even cause death.

Urine-soaked bedding or poor drainage can also have a huge negative impact on air quality. A substantial amount of ammonia fumes can be generated when urine breaks down. Again, breathing in excessive levels of ammonia fumes can cause respiratory problems in horses. Modern research recommends making periodic stops to remove faeces and urine-soaked material.

Plan ahead.

To keep your horse calm, you want to keep the journey as short as possible. This can be especially important if your horse has not travelled before and in extreme weather conditions.

Firstly, always try to take the shortest route to reach your destination. Secondly, familiarise yourself with the route so you can prevent your horse being in the trailer longer than is necessary. Additionally, look up any potential delays, such as road closures or accidents. Even a short journey can turn into a much longer one due to unexpected delays, so it’s best to check before setting off.

The quicker your get your horse to your destination and out the trailer, the better.

Use an appropriately sized trailer.

Select a van or trailer that suits your horse’s size and temperament. A horse that struggles in confined spaces will feel calmer in a larger container. However, a horse that is used to travelling may be comfortable in a smaller trailer. Of course if you are travelling with multiple horses, you need to ensure that they all have adequate space.

Furthermore, it is important that you ensure the trailer is suitable for the size of your horse as this will reduce the risk of them hitting their heads or injuring themselves.

If travelling with lone horses, experts recommend using small box trailers where your horse can lower its head to the floor for hay. If horses neck movement is restricted during transit, they are at risk of damaging their respiratory systems.

Get your horse used to the trailer.

A horse that is used to travelling, will be calmer than a horse that hasn’t travelled before. If you have taken your horse to shows in the past, you may have noticed just how much your horse sweats while travelling. Excess sweating is observed more commonly when a horse isn’t used to travelling. Horses tend to sweat more when they are stressed and can even burn the same number of calories as when they’re exercising!

Training your horse to get used to the trailer prior to travelling can help keep him calm while on the road. During the weeks leading up to your travels, practice loading and unloading your horse so he gets used to the experience. Furthermore, take your horse out on short drives to get him used to the motion of travelling and being in a confined space.

This is particularly important if you are planning on going on a long road trip with your horse. A horse that hasn’t been in a trailer before, is more likely to get stressed on a 6 hour drive, rather than a horse that is used to being in the trailer on the road.

Check their health before travelling.

Have a vet complete a full health check on your horse before taking him travelling. A long road trip can be stressful for a healthy horse, let alone a sick one. As mentioned above, stress makes horses more susceptible to getting sick, due to a number of reasons.

Therefore, experts advise that a sick horse should not travel at all. The additional stress of travelling on a sick horse is likely to deteriorate his health and can even be fatal.

Additionally, ensure that your horse has all of the vaccinations that he requires. This is particularly important if your horse will be coming into contact with other horses during your travels, and if you are travelling to another country. Make sure you leave enough time for these vaccinations to take affect. They usually take two to three weeks to provide protection.

Provide plenty of hay and water.

Not only will hay provide your horse with some much needed sustenance while travelling, it’s also a good distraction during the journey. Additionally, it’s vital that your horse grazes throughout the journey otherwise he risks getting sick.

Horses produce up to 16 gallons of strong gastric acid daily, whether food is in their stomachs or not. found that travelling can cause increased levels of gastric acid in horses due to increased levels of stress. , so it’s important your horse grazes while travelling. Hay can help to buffer your horse’s stomach from the stomach acid that is produced quicker during long periods of stress.

It is highly recommended that you soak your horse’s hay in water before placing it in nets and loading it onto the trailer. This is because particulate matter from hay can contaminate your horses air. Contaminated, dusty air can cause problems in your horse’s respiratory system.

Furthermore, it is also important to keep your horse hydrated during the journey. It is advised that you offer water every 3 hours during travel. In warmer weather, high humidity, or when horses are sweating excessively, you should offer water more frequently. If possible, it is advisable to bring water from home as some horses can be reluctant to drink water that is not what they’re used to.

Take breaks every 3-5 hours.

Many top riders in the UK recommend that horses are taken out of their vehicles every 3 to 5 hours. A quick stop will give your horse an opportunity to stretch their legs and breathe some fresh air.

Transport-related diseases, dehydration, or fatigue due to energy expenditure and reduced feed intake, are more likely to be observed in journeys over 3 hours or over 500 miles. Road transport time should never exceed 12 hours from when the horse is first loaded on the vehicle. After 12 hours of travelling, horses should be taken off the trailer and comfortably stabled for a minimum of eight hours. This time period is vital for tracheal clearance, rehydration, and for your horse to get some much needed rest.

Additionally, pit stops are a good opportunity to check up on your horse to ensure that he is healthy and calm. You can also use the time to check your horse’s travel boots and tail bandages to ensure they are still in place and to redo them if necessary. Tail bandages can harm your horse if they are not fixed properly.

Do not tie your horses head too high.

Tying your horse’s head too high will put too much stress on his respiratory tract. Restraint in the head-up posture for prolonged periods of time can severely interrupt lung clearance mechanisms. This can predispose your horse to shipping fever (pleuropneumonia).

. In bad cases, shipping fever can even be fatal which was sadly demonstrated in 2015 when a high-profile victim, Tina Cook’s De Novo News, was succumbed to the condition. He contracted it on his way home from competing at Strzegom and sadly had to be put down.

To optimise your horse’s health, he needs to have enough room to both stretch and lower his neck whilst travelling. Hay nets should be placed as low as possible without the risk of your horse entangling his feet in the nets. Alternatively, horses travel well in small box stalls where they can extend their heads to the floor to eat their hay.

Avoid using excess gear while travelling.

Avoid “over wrapping” your horse in unnecessary travel gear during transit. Excess gear will cause your horse to lose bodily fluids and electrolytes from excessive sweating. This, in turn, leads to dehydration which causes other systemic illnesses.

A dehydrated horse’s skin will stay up in a ridge, while healthy skin should spring smoothly back into place. Common signs of include:

Only use what is absolutely necessary for the comfort and safety of your horse while travelling. These include a good headcollar, poll guards, tail guards, bandages, sweat and cooler rugs.

If your horse is an experienced traveller, you might not need to use a tail bandage when travelling long distance. When a tail bandage isn’t fit properly, it can actually cause more damage than not having one. If the bandage is too tight the chances are it will rub and end up damaging your horse’s dock. On the other hand, if the bandage is too loose, it may unravel and get tangled up in your horse’s legs and feet.

Using sweat and cooler rugs will help maintain your horses temperature during extreme weather. However, be careful not to over-rug your horse. Field-kept horses and ponies who are used to cooler temperatures may be warm enough without a rug. Therefore, for some horses, rugs will cause unnecessary sweating and overheating, which compromises the welfare of your horse.

Allow extra time for loading and unloading.

Add some extra time to your journey to allow enough time to load and unload your horse. This is particularly important if your horse isn’t used to travelling. Even well-travelled horses, may refuse to load depending on his current mood.

As mentioned above, it’s recommended that you practise loading and unloading your horse leading up to your journey. This will make the journey smoother as your horse will me more used to the experience, and therefore less likely to refuse to load.

Leaving plenty of time to load and unload your horse will not only reduce stress for yourself but also your horse.

Drive carefully.

A horse will feel calmer if you drive carefully. Whilst driving, be aware of your horse’s welfare. Try to come to gentle stops and always accelerate slowly to keep your horse calm and comfortable.

Stopping and accelerating quickly, and making sharp turns may also lead to your horse injure himself. You may risk your horse banging his head, falling against the side of the trailer or tugging on his headcollar.

Try horse calming supplements.

There are a number of different calming products and minerals that have been proven to help reduce stress in horses.

As mentioned above, research has shown that when a horse’s normal routine and diet are changed, they can develop gastric ulcers in just a matter of days. Within just a few hours, the sensitive microbial population of your horse’s hindgut can be thrown out of balance, causing colic, diarrhoea or laminitis. A study carried out by revealed suppression of the immune system in which horses were transported in trailers. Regardless of how careful you are, some change and stress is unavoidable. Therefore, travelling horses can benefit from nutritional supplementation.

Providing calming aids with nutrients such as is recommended for calming highly-strung horses. These minerals have been scientifically researched and proven to have a calming affect on horses.

Is an innovative supplement which includes the ‘anti-stress mineral’. This helps to help relax your horse’s muscles and his nervous system as well as providing pre and probiotics which help to soothe the digestive system. These supplements normally take affect within a few hours, however different horses react differently. Thus, it is a good idea to complete a trial run before your journey. This way you will know how long the supplement will take to impact your horse.

Supplementing horses with electrolytes is also highly recommended for those on the go. A well-balanced will encourage drinking and replace electrolytes lost through excess sweating. Horses should be offered water frequently throughout their trip. Experts recommend dosing electrolytes with an oral dosing syringe or mixing them in the feed so you know exactly how much you are providing and how much your horse is taking. They do not recommend dissolving electrolytes in your horses water as horses can refuse to drink if they suspect their water has been tampered with.

Horses are calmed by a travel companion.

Most horses and ponies generally feel calmer and more comfortable sharing their trailer in the company of another equine.

A recent study compared horses traveling on their own, with those travelling with another horse. Research found that less stress-indicating behaviours, such as head tossing and turning, were observed when horses travelled with a companion. Additionally, changes in their heart rate and body temperature were also monitored and indicated that the horses were happier when traveling with a friend.

If it isn’t possible for your horse to travel with a friend, a mirror may actually suffice. Researchers installed an acrylic mirror, measuring 81cm x 60.5cm (32″ x 24″), into the trailer used to haul a single horse. They found that horses were a lot calmer and behaved similarly to when they had a live companion.

However, it is important not to overload a trailer with too many horses. Horses with adequate space will feel much calmer than those with limited space. Additionally, the more horses in a trailer, the hotter it is likely to get, which can lead to health problems.

Turn your horse out the night before.

Some expert trainers like to turn their horses out the night before travel. They say that it allows their horses to graze and hydrate themselves in the most natural way. Horses may also feel calmer while travelling if they spent the night before out in the open.

Yes, it might mean a little more grooming the next morning, however, I’m sure the general improved wellness of your horse outweighs the extra work required.

Travelling with horses can be stressful, however there are many things you can do to calm a horse while on the road. It’s vital to keep horses calm while travelling to optimise their health and prevent sickness. Travelling and stress can cause a number of different diseases, such as shipping fever, heat exhaustion, dehydration and gastric ulcers.

Firstly, research has shown that ventilation and temperature control are extremely important to prevent your horse getting sick. Additionally experts recommend taking breaks every 3-5 hours to allow your horse to get fresh air and stretch their legs. This also gives you a great opportunity to give your horse some water, as well as to check up on your horses health and gear. Furthermore, research has found that horses benefit from calming supplements such as thiamine (vitamin B1), magnesium, and alpha-lactalbumin, as well as travelling with a companion or a mirror!

Calming without medication

Here are 10 ways to reduce a horse’s anxiety without resorting to sedatives or tranquilizers.

Your horse isn’t bad or aggressive. He’s just … well, he isn’t the placid guy who rolls sedately with every new request and stands like a rock for the veterinarian and farrier. No, your horse is the one who jumps first and asks questions later.

“I’ve found that horses, for the most part, are trusting animals; they are pretty open to most things,” says Jenny Johnson, VMD, of Oakhill Shockwave and Veterinary Chiropractic in Calabasas, California. “But some are defensive right off the bat, and these are not necessarily horses that have been abused. They are just naturally suspicious or cautious because they are wired a little differently, like some people.”

And that can be a problem when the horse needs to stand still. A horse who frets and starts at every minor disturbance poses a danger to himself and anyone nearby. That means that sometimes it’s simply necessary to administer a sedative or tranquilizer to help a horse through a veterinary or farriery procedure. But in the vast majority of instances, administering medications can also seem like bringing out the “heavy artillery” when, in fact, a lighter approach might be preferable.

Indeed, there are a variety of ways to ease a horse’s anxieties without using sedatives or tranquilizers. What works best depends on the particular horse and situation, and many techniques require some planning and preparation. What’s more, over the long term, the best approach boils down to simply treating your horse gently, firmly and consistently over time so that he learns he can trust and respect your leadership when he confronts something new. Chances are you’ll find that one or more of the following techniques, products or approaches can help soothe your horse’s anxieties and curb his more extreme behaviors.

The foundation of ground manners is a relationship of respect and trust between horse and handler. If a horse has learned to consistently pay attention to you and respond to your direction, he’ll look to you for leadership in stressful situations, which will help keep him calm.

“Keeping a horse relaxed comes from training and consistent, calm handling, and your own confidence in yourself and in the horse,” says Tia Nelson, DVM, a veterinarian and farrier from Helena, Montana.

If you are unsure of your horse’s ground manners, have an experienced friend watch you perform basic tasks and offer pointers. You’ll also find numerous books, videos and other resources, some from natural horsemanship trainers, describing how to establish good basic manners. If you need more help, seek the services of a reputable professional trainer.

If your horse is generally well mannered but gets upset about certain specific activities, such as loading into a trailer or receiving injections, you’ll want to tackle desensitization training, which means gradually exposing him to the situation that he fears, gently pushing the limits of his comfort zone. Over time, with patient repetition, the horse will become less reactive to the situation that bothers him.

“If a horse is flighty and nervous for the farrier or for veterinary procedures, one of the best ways to approach this problem is to work with the horse in advance, to prepare and desensitize him to what is going to happen,” says Johnson. “If it’s a young horse, the more you can expose him to a variety of circumstances, the better.”

The techniques for desensitization training vary with the specific issues being addressed, but most rely on some form of advance and retreat: If a horse resents having his ears handled, for example, you might start by scratching him at the closest point he will permit contact before reacting, such as the shoulder. When he accepts that, you retreat—then next time move your hand further forward up his neck, and retreat again just before he reacts. These sessions may need to be repeated, but over time your horse ought to become more comfortable with the previously feared actions. “Once those horses become acclimated to a specific procedure or event, they realize it’s not so bad and they don’t panic,” says Johnson.

“Growing up, people told me to talk all the time when working around horses, so they know where you are and you never startle them,” says Johnson. “Then I worked at a big breeding farm after I finished vet school. One of the farm managers was an older Kentucky horseman, and he told me, ‘Stop talking! The horse knows you are there. If you are talking all the time, the horse gets nervous.’ I realized there was some truth to that.”

Try some different vocalizations with your horse and read his reaction. If your horse remains edgy as you continue to talk, hum or whisper, try keeping quiet a while to see how he responds. “See what works but keep in mind that there needs to be a balance,” says Johnson. “If you are talking nonstop it can be too much sensory overload for some horses.”

When planning for a procedure or situation that will be stressful to your horse, choose a setting that won’t add to his anxiety. “If the farrier is coming, is it in a place where the horse feels comfortable?” says Johnson. “If the horse will be in cross-ties, make sure the horse is at ease with being cross-tied and used to going to that particular place. Don’t have him going somewhere new.”

Avoid making obvious changes to the scene before the visit. For example, wait until later to hang the blanket to dry within your horse’s line of sight, and choose a time when there will be less movement and activity around the barn. “Also pay attention to weather conditions when working on the horse,” says Johnson. If the forecast will be windy, for example, consider rescheduling for a calmer day.

A high-strung horse who spends too much of his time confined to a stall is going to have energy to burn, which of course can fuel anxious behavior. “If horses can have plenty of turnout, this is a big help,” Johnson says. “If horses don’t get out much, when they do they are more apt to run and buck and possibly hurt themselves.”

If more turnout is not an option in your situation, then it may help to increase the amount of exercise your horse gets. “In our region in California we don’t have much availability for large areas of turnout,” Johnson says. “Our horses might get their exercise via hand walking or a European style walker or by being ridden. Those things are important if your horse lives in a confined space.”

If your horse needs more exercise than you can provide, consider enlisting a friend or two to ride him once or twice a week or look for someone to enter a half lease agreement. Ensure the pairing is compatible—in terms of experience and personality—to keep everyone safe and ultimately reduce your horse’s stress.

Massage therapy—manually rubbing or manipulating the muscles—has become popular at many racing and sport horse barns. Massage is mainly used to relax muscle spasms, improve circulation and increase range of motion, says Johnson, but “anything that makes a horse more comfortable may help him relax and relieve tension.”

Talk to your veterinarian if you’re interested in pursuing massage therapy with your horse. It may not be a good idea in horses with certain injuries or conditions such as skin tumors. You’ll also want to ask for recommendations to find a qualified massage therapist in your area who has undergone appropriate training.

Another therapeutic option is acupressure, which makes use of the same target points on the body as acupuncture, but instead of piercing the skin with needles, the process involves gently pressing or rubbing the spots with the pads of the fingers. Chinese traditionalists will say that the goal of the treatment is to improve the flow of “life force” (“qi” or “chi”) along “meridians.” Westerners are more likely to ascribe the effects of acupressure to reduced muscle tension and/or the release of endorphins, hormones that block pain and make the patient relax and feel good.

When Johnson begins work on a chiropractic patient, she says, “I start at the head and TMJ [temporomandibular joint], along various lines of the face and different trigger points—and the horse simply relaxes. It makes the rest of what I need to do go much smoother.” For more information on acupressure, go to the National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage (www.

Browse the supplements section of any well-stocked retailer, and you’ll find dozens of products intended to help calm fractious horses. None are classified as drugs, which means their manufacturers have to prove only that they are safe for your horse, not that they are effective. Nevertheless, many have been on the market for years, and customers have reported good results.

Ingredients in calming supplements vary. Many contain magnesium, which plays a role in muscle and nerve function; chromium, a mineral that helps regulate blood sugar; and thiamine (vitamin B1), which supports the nervous system. “People usually use [these products] for horses with metabolic syndrome, but they also help horses that are high-strung and skittish, to settle them down,” says Nelson.

You’ll also find supplements that contain herbal ingredients, such as chamomile, valerian root and raspberry leaf, all of which are traditional calming agents. “These might help some horses and not others,” says Johnson. “There are many herbal products available and some are probably helpful, but it depends on the horse and the situation, and what you are trying to accomplish.”

One of the newest products on the market contains alpha-casozepine, a protein derived from milk that is believed to calm nursing youngsters. Studies have shown that alpha-casozepine has calming effects in several species. In a 2012 study from the University of Pennsylvania, three semi-feral ponies were given an oral alpha-casozepine supplement once daily beginning five days prior to being brought into a barn for two weeks of basic training for tasks such as haltering, stabling, leading, tethering and grooming. The three ponies treated with alpha-casozepine, along with three nontreated control ponies, were then ranked on a scale from 1 to 6 for calmness, compliance and their ability to learn new skills. All three of the treated ponies performed better than the untreated controls, and six weeks after the initial training period, the treated ponies had also retained the most training.

Talk to your veterinarian or an equine nutritionist before adding new products to your horse’s feed regimen. They may be able to suggest specific brands or formulations that might be more appropriate for your horse. If you take your horse to shows, you also need to be careful of ingredients that might appear on drug screenings.

“If the horse owner is competing in shows I would caution against giving the horse something that does not have a full list of ingredients. Some herbs may be on the forbidden substance list, not so much because they are a problem but because they are masking agents,” Johnson says. “Just because a substance is natural or organic does not mean that it will not test or even that it is good for your horse. Both the United States Equestrian Federation and the Fédération Equestre Internationale have lists of forbidden substances on their websites, along with medication guidelines, that every owner should consult prior to administering any type of supplement to their horse.”

Chemicals released by animals to affect the behavior of others in the environment, pheromones play many roles, signaling everything from alarm to sexual receptivity. For several years, products based on pheromones secreted by females to comfort and reassure their offspring have been available to help calm anxious dogs and cats. Recently, similar products for horses have been introduced. One new product contains a synthetic version of “equine appeasing hormone,” which nursing mares produce to calm their foals. The product is a gel that is applied inside the horse’s nostrils at least 30 minutes prior to a stressful event or situation.

Since ancient times, people have used essential oils extracted from flowers, roots, bark other plant parts for aromatherapy to enhance physical and mental well-being. Nowadays, aromatherapy is also available for horses. Treatments may be performed by aroma-therapists, but several direct-to-consumer products are also on the market.

Aromatherapy with essential oils is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for any specific treatments, but studies in human medicine have suggested that lavender oil can reduce pain and ease anxieties in patients with cancer and other serious medical issues. One 2013 study, conducted at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, measured the effects of lavender essential oil on seven horses. Each horse’s heart rate was documented before and after an air horn was set off in an adjoining stall. All of the horses underwent the test twice: once while breathing pure humidified air, and once while exposed to an 80/20 percent mix of humidified air with aerosolized lavender essential oil. When exposed to the lavender, the horses’ heart rates were significantly lower, an indication that they were less stressed by the noise.

High-strung behavior may be encoded in your horse’s genes, but it doesn’t have to rule his life. By taking steps to calm him, distract him and teach him that he need not be fearful, you can go a long way toward keeping him safe and happy, and maybe even a joy to work with.

6 Ways To Calm A Nervous Horse

Horses are hardwired to be alert and on the lookout for predators. This natural instinct can sometimes make them a bit nervous. If a horse is nervous and constantly on edge, it can lead to further problems such as poor performance, difficulty concentrating, and bad behavior. If your horse is behaving this way, you’re not alone. Many owners struggle with how to calm their anxious equines.

Anxiety in horses can be caused by many different things. If you think yours may be anxious, it’s important to talk to your veterinarian. They can help you identify the cause of the anxiety and recommend the best course of treatment. There are, however, a few things you can do to help ease their anxiety. Some methods are more effective than others, and some may work better than others.

1. Use a Horse Calmer

Firstly, a great option is to look into using a to help your horse relax. Some popular ingredients to look for are magnesium which helps reduce anxiety, tryptophan which can reduce stress, and valerian which also helps to reduce anxiety.

This is where horse calmers like are very successful. Based on Magnesium and group B vitamins, they give the horse time to breathe and realize the trauma is not as threatening, enabling them to cope well in what may be stressful situations such as competition, training, or change in environment.

2. Feed Your Horse Smaller Meals More Often

Another tip is to feed them smaller meals, more often throughout the day. Horses are grazing animals – their digestive systems have evolved around grazing on forage and receiving a frequent flow of small amounts of food. When horses have gaps in their forage supply, this can increase stress levels and anxiety. That’s why feeding them smaller meals more often throughout the day can help to settle their stomach and reduce anxiety.

3. Give Your Horse A Massage

A relaxing massage is a lot of help too. Rub their neck, back, and hindquarters to soothe them and relieve any tension that they may be feeling.

4. Let Him Stretch Out in a Paddock

If your horse is confined to a stall or small paddock, let them out into a larger area where they can run and play for a while. This will help to release some of their energy and help to make them feel more relaxed.

5. Try A Relaxing Herbal Tea

Another option is to pour herbal tea into their regular feed. Certain herbal teas can actually be good for horses, as well as us. There are several herbs that can help to relax and calm them such as chamomile, and lavender.

6. Play Soft Music

Playing soft music can help to soothe and relax them. Choose calming music without a lot of percussion or sudden noises as this could startle them. Experiment with different types of music until you find one that your horse likes best.

If your horse is behaving nervously or anxiously, these tips can help to reduce their anxiety. Some methods are more effective than others, so it’s important to try a few until you find one that works best for your horse.

Talk to your veterinarian or equine nutritionist if you’re not sure where to start. They can help you identify the cause of the anxiety and recommend the best course of treatment. With a little patience and effort, you should be able to get your horse’s nerves under control in no time.

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Safety is a priority for all equestrians and their horses. Be prepared for any incidents with your horse by keeping a fully stocked med box. Read our blog on what to keep stocked .

How to Keep a Horse Calm While Riding

This article was co-authored by . Kate Jutagir is an Equestrian Specialist, Hunter/Jumper Trainer, and the Owner of Blackhound Equestrian, a premier training barn located on 65 acres in Castro Valley, California. Originally designed to be a riding school used as a springboard for dedicated students into careers in the sport, Blackhound Equestrian has grown into a hunter/jumper training program for all levels focusing on providing a solid foundation needed for personal advancement in the sport. Kate has over 25 years of equestrian instruction and training experience. Her focus on developing horse and rider partnerships provides a complete equestrian education for both beginners and advanced riders alike. This article has been viewed 11,733 times.

Whether you are an experienced rider in the saddle or brand new to horse riding, you may struggle with keeping your horse calm while riding. A horse can become stressed out or spooked due to a loud noise, a sudden movement, or a rider who is also stressed out. To keep your horse calm, you can use the reins on the horse properly or use the drop head cue. Your breathing and demeanor as a rider can also help to keep your horse calm and ensure you both have a smooth ride.

To keep your horse calm while riding, start by standing with your horse first and talking softly to get it used to the tone of your voice. For example, you might whisper: “Hello Gigi, it’s so lovely to see you again!”. As you talk to your horse, stroke it gently to increase the bond between both of you. And since horses pick up on human nervousness, calm yourself too by taking in several deep breaths to lower your heart rate before mounting your horse. Once you’re out riding, keep talking to your horse kindly and count out a tempo with a soft and reassuring voice to guide your horse to follow a comfortable and relaxed rhythm that helps it to stay calm.

Tips to keep your horse stress-free during transport

It’s essential to understand the importance of keeping your horse stress-free during transport. A trip can be as hard on your horse as it is on you. It can leave your animal tired, sore, and uncomfortable. Whether you are a competitor, a trail rider, or just transporting your horse to a different location, preparations beforehand, a few trip guidelines, and packing the right supplies can make all the difference. Here are a few tips…

Before planning your trip make sure your horse is healthy, conditioned, and physically fit. Check with your vet to verify that vaccinations are up-to-date. If you are traveling across borders, you may need documentation. Keep in mind that requirements change from state to state. The most common required documents include a Health Certificate, Brand Inspection, and a negative Coggins test.

Make sure your trailer is in good shape and the appropriate size for your horse. Remember, your horse is going to be standing and balancing themselves throughout the trip. If you have an enclosed trailer, plan on including bedding to provide comfort and decrease stress on your horses’ feet and joints. Also, make sure the trailer has proper ventilation. Even in the winter, horses need fresh air. A couple of weeks or even a month before you leave, practice loading your horse into the trailer and take a few short trips. Having them become accustomed to the trailer will help keep your horse stress-free. Most horses will adapt well to travel but there are some who can’t handle it due to age, illness, injuries, or temperament. It’s good to know these things beforehand rather than an hour or so into your trip.

Before leaving, research locations for breaks and rest stops. Plan to stop every 3-6 hours for at least 20 minutes. For long trips, most experts recommend no more than 12 hours on the road and overnight stops of at least 8 hours. Look for overnight places that include an area where your horse can be turned out and has a deeply padded stall for a good night’s rest. Also, check the weather. If it is hot, traveling at night may be beneficial. The temperature will be cooler, and the traffic will probably be lighter.

Proper hydration is a major concern for horses during travel and should start well before your trip. Many experts suggest feeding bran mush, supplemented with electrolytes, a day or so before you travel to encourage your horse to drink more.

During your trip, it is important to offer water, refill hay, and monitor your horses’ vital signs. A normal temperature should range between 98-101, a normal pulse between 36-44, and a normal respiratory rate should be 8-20 breaths a minute. Also, check to make sure your horses’ gums are a pale pink color. This shows that they are getting enough water.

The stress of travel and changes in water can sometimes lead to colic. Consequently, it is important to watch for indications that your horse may be having a problem. Signs of a problem could include unusual sounds in their abdomen, abdomen pain-pawing, looking at their sides, trying to lay down in the trailer, or not eating. Some experts suggest taking a supply of your own water because some horses will not drink water that tastes or smells unfamiliar.

To keep your horse stress-free during transport it is important for them to be able to put their heads down. According to Gray (n. d.) this “not only helps them with balance, but it also helps them clear their airways of debris, bacteria and viruses, and discharge which could lead to respiratory disease.” If it’s going to be a long trip, standing wraps can provide extra support and help with swelling in your horses’ legs. The wraps should be changed daily and removed during long rest breaks. If your horse is wearing wraps, check them regularly for rubs, sores, and irritation. If they do appear, can be applied 3 times a day. This will help reduce any inflammation and promote healing.

Have your vet’s contact information and any prescribed medications. It’s also a good idea to take a few extra days’ supplies of meds, just in case. Bring hay from your home barn and if possible, bring enough to last for 1-2 weeks at their new location.

If you are using an open trailer you may want to purchase a fly mask for your horse’s face to reduce dust and wind that can lead to respiratory problems and/or eye irritation.

Finally, responsible owners always travel with an equine first aid kit in case of an emergency. Curicyn’s Equine Triage Kit makes an excellent choice. It contains all the necessary wound care items you may need in a handy carrying case that can hang in your trailer.

To keep your horse healthy, comfortable, and happy during trips make sure they are well fed and have plenty of water. Include rest breaks and overnight stays if needed. And no matter how well your horse traveled, allow them time to recuperate when you get to your destination. will benefit both you and your horse. To add to that, Curicyn’s prices are exceptional. Pick up the Equine Kit at your local Curicyn retailer or order online and get free shipping in the continental US. Check them out…

13 Tips to prepare your horse for long-distance travel. (February 21, 2017). . Retrieved from

Blickle, A. (June 28, 2018). The long haul: traveling long-distances with horses. Retrieved from

Gray, L. (n. d.) Traveling with your horse: how to have a happy, healthy horse when you arrive. Retrieved from

Heath, B. (2014). 10 Must-read tips: safe-long-distance traveling with your horse trailer. . Retrieved from

Large Animal Surgery – Supplemental Notes

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Xylazine is a common equine sedative. It can be given iv, im or (less commonly) sq and acts on alpha 2 receptors. It also provides analgesia and is synergistic with opioids for both sedation and analgesia.

Doses range from 100-200 mg iv (1-2cc of 100mg/ml) for most horses. Larger horses are more sensitive and young horses generally need more per kilogram of bodyweight. Allow horses to sedate fully before stimulating or the sedation may not take effect.

Side effects include decreased GI motility, bradycardia, nasal congestion, and decreased thermoregulation. Sedated horses put most weight on their forelimbs, making them light behind. If startled, they are more likely to kick and less likely to give warning. Xylazine alone should not be used to sedate horses for hindlimb procedures including rectal palpation. Don’t use in horses on iv TMS (this drug formulation is rare in the US).

Occasional horses become xylazine aggressive and turn mean when sedated. Excessive or sudden stimulation can override the sedation.

Contraindications: Be cautious in horses with heart disease. Do not use in neonates as it impairs cardiac output (cardiac output = heart rate x stroke volume; xylazine lowers heart rate but neonates can’t change their stroke volume to compensate). Use benzodiazepenes in neonates instead of alpha-2 agents.


Romifidine is an alpha-2 agonist that is similar to xylazine but with longer duration and less associated ataxia. It is popular with equine dentists.

Side effects and contraindications: Side effects are similar to xylazine with occasional episodes of colic after its use. Rarely a horse will become excited rather than sedated.


Detomidine is yet another alpha-2 agonist with even longer duration effects. Detomidine does a better job of balancing the horse’s weight (4 point stance) and is safe to use when working on the hindlimbs.

Detomidine is routinely given iv or im but does come as an oral gel that can be used for fractious horses (it does take 30 min to kick in). Typical doses are 0.5-1 ml (10 mg/ml).

Detomidine has a ceiling effect so increasing doses increase duration rather than increase sedation.

Side effects are the same as for xylazine but more significant due to the longer duration.


Acepromazine is a tranquilizer or calming agent. It does not have analgesic properties. It can be given orally, im or iv. It does have a delayed onset of action; 20 minutes may be required even with iv administration.

Side effects: Ace is safe in most horses. Caution is needed in stallions and those horses in shock or with anemia. Ace lowers blood pressure and hematocrit. Ace can cause penile prolapse and priapism (persistent erection) in stallions and in geldings with urethral irritation. This condition can rapidly lead to fertility issues.

Diazepam and Midazolam

Diazepam and midazolam are primarily used to relieve anxiety and enhance the sedative effects of other drugs. They act as sedatives in neonates.

Diazepam and midazolam are the preferred sedatives for neonates. Neonates cannot adjust stroke volume so have significant cardiovascular depression with the alpha-2 agents. (Cardiac output = SV * HR)

These benzodiazepenes are used interchangeably. Price variations are common so the cheapest drug is generally the one used. Diazepam must go iv, is light sensitive and cannot be stored in plastic (syringes). It generally cannot be mixed with other drugs (ketamine is okay). Midazolam can be given im and does not bind to plastic. It can be mixed with most other drugs and rectal administration may be effective.

Side effects: both drugs are metabolized by the liver and the cytochrome P450 system. As such, they can be affected by and can affect the metabolism of other drugs.

The drugs are also used as anticonvulsants, muscle relaxants and appetite stimulants.


Plumb’s Veterinary Drug Handbook and app (lots of versions out there in different formats and prices)

Training Tip of the Week: Stopping a horse from kicking in the trailer.

Remember that horses are prey animals and when made to go in tight, narrow spaces – like a trailer – it’s natural for them to feel trapped and claustrophobic. When a horse feels trapped and claustrophobic, and his ability to run and move his feet is taken away from him, his only other option he feels he has is to fight – kick, bite, strike or do whatever he can to survive the situation. Because the horse goes on the trailer relatively easy, most owners who have a horse that kicks in the trailer think, “It can’t be a trailer loading problem, he goes on. It has to be a kicking issue.” Just because your horse goes on the trailer, doesn’t mean he’s comfortable there. You have to teach him to crave the trailer – thinking that it’s the best place in the world to be. In order to do that, you’re going to work his feet outside the trailer and let him rest inside the trailer.

You can do the Sending Exercise (sending the horse between you and the trailer from one side of your body to the other) or Lunging for Respect (lunging the horse in a circle around you and asking him to change directions every so often). It doesn’t really matter what you do with him outside of the trailer as long as you make his feet hustle and change directions). After several minutes, let him rest inside the trailer. If he starts to kick, immediately back him out and put his feet to work again. You can even load him in the trailer and drive around your property and as soon as he starts kicking, stop, unload him and make him hustle his feet. If you’re consistent, it won’t take long for him to realize that standing still and being in the trailer is a good thing because if he kicks, there’s nothing but hard work waiting for him outside. With repetition, he’ll learn to stand still, not kick and relax. Remember, he is kicking because he really doesn’t want to be in the trailer. If you can get the horse to think the trailer is the greatest place in the world to be, he will no longer want to cause any problems in the trailer.

How to Easily Load and Unload an Anxious Horse onto a Horse Trailer

A young teenage named Rachael has been waiting all summer to take her horse to the county horse show – and finally the day has arrived. It’s a perfect summer morning, the sun is shining, there’s a cool breeze, and everything’s all set.

Her horse has been washed and groomed, and his dark bay coat almost sparkles in the summer sun. During months of training, the excited young rider looked forward to show day. Finally, her beautiful Thoroughbred gelding would get his chance to perform in the show ring.

For almost two hours, Rachael and her mother have tried desperately to coax the horse into the trailer – to no avail. A few times, he got close to the trailer door, just a few feet away from the entrance…only to anxiously bolt off backwards. The young rider tried pushing, pulling, even begging the horse to get in the trailer, but nothing worked.

After another half hour of trying to coax the horse into the trailer, they gave up. They were exhausted, the horse was not going to move, and they wouldn’t be able to make it to the show on time.

If you have an anxious horse that doesn’t like loading into the trailer, you’ve probably been in a similar situation. You can waste hours and hours trying to convince your horse to get into the trailer – only to end up defeated, frustrated, and disappointed. And after you try everything to get your horse to load, only to fail, you might begin to wonder – is something wrong with my horse?

Loading and unloading can be quite the hassle – some horses can walk into a trailer without a second thought, while others can’t even get close to the trailer without rearing up and bolting the other direction. What makes the difference? Why do some horses freak out at the sight of a trailer? What makes a horse so tough to load? What causes anxiety in horses during loading? And can you fix it? Is there any hope for a super anxious trailerphobic horse?

While it’s completely natural for your horse to be suspicious of a giant scary-looking horse trailer, there are certain training techniques that you can use to help your horse load and unload successfully. You can train your horse to be comfortable around the trailer – making for safer travel for you and your horse.

However, although it’s true that training techniques and can help your horse react positively to getting into the trailer, some horses are better than others at trailer loading and unloading. In fact, your horse’s personality can affect whether they are nervous and skittish or calm and confident around your trailer.

But before we get into specific training tips that you can use to help reduce your horse’s anxiety around the trailer, lets discover why your horse is so anxious around the trailer in the first place.

First things first – it’s completely natural that your horse’s stress levels spike during the loading and unloading process. Why? Well, let’s look at it from your horse’s perspective. Horses are prey animals, and like all prey animals, they are constantly on the lookout for dangerous animals and situations that could trap them and hurt them.

When a horse sees a dark, scary-looking trailer that has metal doors that will shut them in the trailer and trap them, your horse’s heart starts to beat faster and his anxiety starts to rise. This only gets worse when horse owners try to drag or force their horses into the trailer during the loading process.

Anxiety in horses also increases when horses are put into small, confined spaces. Horses are naturally claustrophobic – they’re used to being out in a wide-open pasture with plenty of space to move around and enjoy. When they’re put into a small, confined area like a horse trailer, anxiety in horses rises.

When your horse’s anxiety starts to increase, your horse can start to sweat excessively, which can lead to dehydration and cause other health problems as well. If your horse is stressed during travel, he could get sick and it’s likely that he’ll end up at his destination rattled and exhausted. If you’re traveling to a big event or show, anxiety in horses can negatively affect your horse’s performance as well.

To make sure that your horse unloads from the trailer calmly, well-rested, and ready to perform, you have to do all you can to eliminate anxiety in horses. This can be done with certain training techniques, lots of practice, and also special trailer features.

For all horses, walking into a horse trailer is not something that they naturally want to do. In fact, their instinct and everything inside them tells them to run far away from the dark, enclosed, scary horse trailer. And, it makes complete sense, because horses are prey animals. Whenever they are faced with a scary situation that feels dangerous to them, their natural reaction is “fight or flight.”

And for horses that are already a little more anxious and untrusting, getting close to the horse trailer sets off all their internal alarms – making them want to run away as fast as they can. Horse training expert Kelly Sigler, a 3-Star Parelli Professional, says that when horses see a horse trailer, “their instinct tells them not to get trapped.” While you see a horse trailer that will take you down the road to the county horse show, your horse sees a dangerous metal box that will trap them and lead them to certain death.

That’s why loading onto the horse trailer can be so difficult and cause anxiety in horses. According to Kelly Sigler, a horse’s personality plays a big part in how they react to trailer loading. Just like people, horses have different personalities that can make them more prone to bolting away from the trailer, or more curious and confident.

Kelly works with the Pat Parelli training system, which divides a horse’s personality into four quadrants – right-brained, left-brained, introverted, and extroverted. There are three levels in each of the quadrants as well – mild, moderate, or extreme. For example, if a horse is a mild, right-brained extrovert, that means that he’s impulsive, hyper alert, panicky, high-headed, and over-reactive.

Right-brained horses like the one described above will need more time to develop their confidence around the horse trailer. Left-brained horses might be braver around the trailer, but they are also more likely to buck or charge if you try to force them into the trailer (because they will see you as a predator).

That’s why it’s important to know what type of personality your horse has before you try to train it to load onto the trailer. Depending on whether your horse is right – or left-brained will affect what training techniques work best. Do you know your horse’s personality type? Check out the chart on the right to see what quadrant your horse fits in.

Whether your horse is an introvert or an extrovert, if he has anxiety, it will be a little harder to train him to be comfortable around the trailer. Anxiety in horses can stem from many different sources – anything from seeing an out of place hay bale to hearing a scary unfamiliar sound can put your horse on edge and make life difficult for you as well.

Often, confusion is what causes anxiety in horses. If he doesn’t understand where he is, what’s happening, and what he should do, he will start to panic. This confusion happens often when your horse is outside of his comfort zone. That puts him in an uncomfortable situation that leads to stress and anxiety.

While many horses experience stress for situational reasons, there are some common causes of anxiety in horses. If your horse has been anxious recently, it’s important to look at these factors first to try to find the underlying cause.

Every horse owner knows that it’s important to feed your horse fresh, quality hay and feed. But did you know that you feed your horse is just as important as you feed him? If you’re feeding your horse too many nonstructural carbs and grains, you might be over-feeding him, leaving him with excess energy that he can’t burn off with his usual exercise and activities.

When your horse has too much energy, he’ll start doing things that he wouldn’t normally do around you and might appear panicky or over-reactive. This can easily be solved by adjusting your horse’s feed so he gets the right number of calories and balanced energy levels.

Horses are big, powerful animals that aren’t meant to be trapped in their stalls all day. While a couple of hours of riding might be enough to wear you out, most likely it isn’t enough for your horse. Horses need time to run around outside on their own.

When you turn your horse loose into the pasture, it gives him freedom to use all the energy he wants and wear himself out. This turn-out time allows your horse to wander, graze, and play with the other horses. It’s an important part of any horse’s daily routine.

If your horse spends too much time in the stall or stable, he can develop anxiety because he’ll start to feel trapped. Make sure to give your horse enough time outside on his own to burn energy and wander free.

Horses are pack animals – both in the wild and on the farm, they develop strong connections with the other horses around them. For that reason, separation can be a big problem and cause severe anxiety in horses. When your horses have gotten used to living together, then suddenly one is sold or moves to a different farm, both horses can suffer because of the drastic change.

If you do have to separate two horses, try to do it as gradually as possible. Keep the second horse nearby and slowly minimize their visits so they get used to being apart from each other. Over time, both horses will develop more confidence alone and they will adapt to the new situation.

All horses have different personalities – some are naturally calmer and more relaxed while others are more active and hyper. Sometimes, a horse that is acting “anxious,” just has a lot of energy and is simply being his normal self.

If your horse has naturally high energy levels, you might want to seek help from a professional trainer. They will be able to help you develop exercises and training plans that will align with your horse’s active personality. When choosing a horse, it’s important to choose one that matches your energy level as well. If you only want to ride a couple hours a week, but your horse has lots of energy and needs multiple rides a day, it might not be the best match.

Obviously, if your horse is in physical pain or feels endangered, it’s completely natural for him to respond with anxiety. When horses are put into strange situations or when they hear unfamiliar sounds, they are going to be on edge and more anxious than usual.

The best way to overcome this type of anxiety is to slowly introduce your horse to the strange new sound, animal, object, or situation. When your horse is afraid or anxious, it’s your responsibility to show them that whatever is scaring them is not going to hurt them.

With horse trailers, it’s the same thing. To your horse, your horse trailer is a scary looking metal box that’s going to trap them and hurt them. It’s natural for them to be anxious around the trailer, especially if they’ve had bad experiences in the past. But, with time and training, your horse can become comfortable around the trailer and your loading and unloading experience with your horse will stop being such a nightmare.

How Stress Is Physically Dangerous to Your Horse

When your horse experiences stress around your trailer, his heart rate goes up, and he might start sweating intensely and even . Anxiety in horses can causes a horse’s body to release cortisol, then adrenaline and epinephrine – all hormones that rouse your horse and could make him do things he usually wouldn’t do.

This physical “fight or flight” reactions can put your horse in danger. If you manage to get your horse into the trailer in an anxious and stressed physical state, it’s likely that his cortisol levels will be elevated during the whole journey. He’ll probably arrive at your destination shaking, nervous, and exhausted. When your horse is stressed and anxious, he might contract an illness like shipping fever, also known as pleuropneumonia, which can lead to a persistent and intense cough.

Anxiety in horses is not only dangerous for the horse, but it’s also dangerous for you as well. Many horse owners try all sorts of things to get their anxious horse into the trailer. While they might start of with bribing him with treats and gently coaxing him into the trailer, as tensions build, they might resort to methods that put both them and their horse in danger.

One woman named Leigh from Pennsylvania told us that one time, she saw to strong men lift up the hind quarters of a stubborn quarter horse mare to get her into the trailer. They locked their arms behind her rear end, shoved her into the dark trailer and slammed the doors shut.

That type of loading procedure is very dangerous – the horse could rear up and hit its head on the trailer or fall and hurt a front leg. And, it’s dangerous for the owners as well, who could be kicked by the horse or hurt their backs from the weight of the horse.

The loading process should not be a dangerous life-threatening experience for you or your horse. And horse owners should always take into consideration the physical health and the mental well-being of their horses when loading them in the trailer.

The first time your horse gets into your trailer should never be the same day you are planning on traveling. Horses need time to wander around the trailer, sniff around inside, and slowly get used to it. When they feel comfortable around the trailer, then you can start leading them inside and training them to load and unload without any stress.

Check out these simple tips to help train your horse to overcome his trailerphobia:

It’s important to not rush your horse when training him around the trailer. Go at his pace, and let him become curious about the trailer. Maybe he’ll sniff around or poke his nose into the different parts of the trailer. Every time he shows interest in the trailer and reaches out his nose, reward him with a treat and lots of praise.

Letting him take the lead will build his confidence and curiosity, and with you by his side, it will help your horse feel safe and protected in his first encounters with the trailer. If you see that he’s feeling confident quickly, you could even ask him to go on into the trailer.

If you horse is scared to even look at the trailer, you might have to start even slower. Try using the approach and retreat tactic to help your horse slowly become more comfortable approaching the trailer. At first, he might not want to get too close, but that’s okay. Calmly walk towards the trailer until you notice your horse getting anxious. When he becomes bothered, pause for a few minutes. Let your horse take a deep breath and look around. Then, walk him away from the trailer.

You can repeat this process, each time getting a little closer to the trailer. You might not get all the way to the trailer on the first day, but that’s okay. Remember, going at your horse’s pace will help build his confidence and lead to long-lasting results. Soon, your horse’s anxiety around the trailer will turn into confidence and serenity.

After your horse is more comfortable around the trailer, it’s time to actually get inside. Don’t force your horse to stay inside the trailer the first time he gets on. Instead, reward him while inside the trailer, then lead him off after a few minutes.

When he’s comfortable staying in the trailer for a few minutes, you can start playing around with the different parts of the trailer. Move the butt bar or divider, and show your horse that it’s nothing to be afraid of. Help them get used to the noise and movements of the different trailer parts and accessories.

After spending a few minutes in the trailer together – and praising him and giving him treats – ask your horse to back off before he tries to do it on his own. This will show your horse that you’re not trying to trap him in the trailer. When he sees you helping him off the trailer, he will see you as a friend and hero rather than a predator.

If your horse is going at a slower pace, you can still use this tip. Even if he only has his two front legs on the trailer, you can ask him to back off and train him that way.

When training your horse to be comfortable around the trailer, it’s all about repetition in a calm and safe environment so your horse will slowly feel more and more confident. Use the “approach and retreat” method for the butt bar, divider, and door so your horse can get used to these different trailer parts.

You might need someone to help secure these items so you can be close to your horse’s head, rewarding him and talking to him throughout the whole process. Make sure to stay safe while you train your horse in the trailer – always make sure the butt bar is secure and the door is closed before tying your horse. Make sure to untie your horse before releasing the door or the butt bar.

The best way to train your horse to be comfortable around your trailer is to use a “walk-on-walk-off” design like this . With this type of trailer, your horse will never need to back off the trailer. Since horses can’t see behind them, backing up causes uncertainty, stress, and anxiety.

With a “walk-on-walk-off” trailer, your horse will never have to back up. He’ll load through a side loading door, then to unload, he’ll walk straight off the back of the trailer. This type of trailer eliminates anxiety in horses and makes unloading and loading so much easier for you and your horse.

The type of trailer you have makes a huge difference in how easy or hard it is for your horse to load and unload – and how stressed your horse is during travel. Some trailers are simply not very “horse friendly.” These trailers can actually cause anxiety in horses. Take for example, a conventional slant load trailer. These types of trailers have a stationary rear tack area, which creates a very narrow loading doorway. And since the tack area is blocking one side of the trailer, usually they’re dark and have almost no airflow.

Horses have four basic needs in order to survive: light, space, air, and safety. If your trailer doesn’t offer all four of these things, it’s just not a “horse friendly” trailer. A good horse trailer will have all four of those things that work together to prevent anxiety in horses. Here’s why they are absolutely necessary for your horse’s physical and mental well-being…

. Your horse needs light to be able to see his surroundings. If you horse is unable to see while in the trailer, and especially while stepping into the trailer, he will become very anxious and scared because he will start to feel trapped and claustrophobic. Make sure you choose a trailer that has a wide, open entrance so the outside light can illuminate the inside of the trailer while your horse is loading. Large windows and a light-colored interior make everything easier to see for your horse.

Every horse needs room to move around without feeling cramped or trapped. Big horses will need more spacious trailers that are built for larger animals. Trying to squeeze your large warmblood horse or your draft horse into a regular sized trailer is never a good idea.

When thinking about the air in your horse trailer, you need to consider both the air quality and the temperature. Look for a trailer with enough overhead vents and windows so that there will be quality airflow while traveling. Also, you don’t want your horse to overheat on hot summer days, so make sure your trailer is properly insulated with the correct materials.

The horse trailer should from danger – that’s why every horse trailer should have at least two inches of padding around the horse stall and chemical bonded walls instead of rivets.

Your horse won’t know if your trailer is the year’s top trailer model or if it has state-of-the-art building materials. But he will notice if the rivets in the wall shriek and squeal as you drive down the highway, or if the sharp edges on the side of the trailer are poking at his legs or ribs.

You want your horse to feel safe and comfortable in the trailer, not anxious and afraid. That’s why it’s so important to find a horse trailer that’s truly “horse friendly.”

Both getting your horse into the trailer and off loading him from the trailer can be dangerous and stressful moments. Some horses bolt out of the trailer at what seems like 1,000 miles per hour as soon as you open the trailer door. Other horses recklessly bail out the trailer door backwards as soon as their owners untie them.

Every time your horse is panicked and stressed, it puts you in a dangerous situation that can quickly spin out of control. Equine practitioner Robert M. Miller has had to deal with many horses injured from trailer-related incidents. He said that “the most common cause of trailer-related injury is failure to adequately and properly train the horse to load and to haul.” (1)

If you want to keep yourself and your horse safe while loading and unloading, you need a trailer that will safely allow you to not just transport your horse, but also get him in and out of the trailer. Traditional trailer designs don’t make it easy for your horse to enter and exit the trailer. That’s why Double D Trailers came up with a solution to the dangerous loading nightmare that so many horse owners face.

The from Double D Trailers is a trailer that’s designed specifically to make loading process much easier and much more horse-friendly. Instead of having to walk into a dark, cramped, scary-looking compartment, your horse will easily load into the trailer by simply walking onto the side ramp through the wide side doors.

Since it’s a rear-facing trailer, when you unload, your horse won’t have to back off, so he won’t be tempted to bail out backwards like most horses in traditional trailers. Instead, he can just walk right out the back of the trailer after you open dividers. The rear SafeTack compartment in the back of the trailer even swings open like a second door, which gives your horse a wider space to unload.

Unlike most slant load trailers that don’t have any barriers supporting the horse in the stall closest to the door, on a SafeTack Double D Trailer, there is a stall divider separating your horse from the door. That means that when you open the doors when you arrive at your destination, your horse will stay safely inside the trailer until you are ready to unload.

This special patented design gives owners more control when unloading, making it much safer for them and their horses. The dividers are easy to move, open, and close, and they protect your horse from bolting out of the trailer. The best part of the design is the reverse facing configuration. This eliminates the biggest problem of loading – the anxiety that your horse feels because of having to blindly back out of the trailer backwards.

A trailer that meets all four of your horse’s needs – light to see, space to move, air to breathe and safety from danger – is a trailer that will make your horse feel comfortable and calm. With a , you can make sure your trailer meets all four of those requirements – and you’ll even get additional safety features that will keep your horse safe and happy on the road.

When you travel with a SafeTack reverse load trailer, you’ll never have to back your horse ever again. He’ll be able to quickly and easily walk right into the trailer, then walk right out when you arrive at your destination. This trailer design is one of the best for successful, stress-free loading. It’s designed to eliminate anxiety in horses during travel. We can even customize the stalls to fit your horse, no matter what size it is.

Choose the safest and most reliable trailer option for your horse – and say goodbye to loading and unloading nightmares and the danger that comes with it. Check out a SafeTake Double D Trailer today. If you have any questions about the patented design, feel free to Heath.


  1. Tackling a horse for a short time either near the trailer or away from it can help calm nerves and warm up muscles. A little exercise can go a long way toward helping them settle in

  2. 10 trailer loading tips for difficult horses with Jose AlejosBigger trailers are better. Play it cool. Focus on movement first. Work slowly and methodically. Work at the points where the horse is most fearful. Make the resistance uncomfortable. Pay attention to inherent risks. Training does not stop when the horse charges.

  3. Let the horse release some of his nervous energy by giving him a simple familiar task. Doing one or two basic training exercises or trotting can take the horse’s attention elsewhere and decrease anxiety

  4. During the show spend 15 20 minutes walking to give your horse a chance to relax and unwind. Spend another 10 to 15 minutes trotting your horse with a long not loose reins so that he stands in front of your leg feels your hand and reaches down

  5. About. Okay I want him to feel secure with the trailer. So I’m going to introduce him into the trailer. I have already got the horse into the trailer by walking so he knows that the trailer is for getting on him

  6. The horse’s resistance to loading the trailer is a common source of stress and injury for horses and their handlers

  7. Horses are fine for up to 9 hours in a trailer as long as they have food and water and unloading during the trip only increases the time considerably. Rather get to where you are headed and let them and you get plenty of rest

  8. Tips for calming a nervous horseMove slowly. Ask the horse to lower its head. Let the horse inspect the frightened look. Breathe. Don’t make a big deal out of it

  9. What effect nervousness can have on our ridingRecognize your nerves. Practice becoming more self aware and noticing when you feel nervous. Slow down. Change your filter. Sit better. Take smaller steps. Reframe in a simple way. Remember that it should be fun. Get help.

  10. Sticks pieces of plastic metal piping heavy leather belts or straps and any other object should not be used to pic clear horses during loading and unloading. Dogs or electric prods should never be used to help load horses

  11. Possible treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy CBT group therapy family therapy dialectical behavioral therapy DBT medications such as antidepressants buspirone BuSpar or benzodiazepines

  12. Tips for reducing separation anxiety Talk to your child in a calm positive tone. Practice separation skills. Make separation easier. Prepare an activity. Don’t play Houdini. Make the goodbye brief. Keep the promise. Aim for consistency.

  13. Like us horses can be stressed and nervous when traveling competing or learning the rules of a new job. Anxiety manifests itself in a variety of ways: from excessive chewing or teeth grinding to weight loss easy spooking pacing recoil running away sweating stomach ulcers or diarrhea

  14. Maximum 24 hour transport with a stop at least every 8 hours for feed and water if necessary Horses older than 8 months must wear a halter during transport

  15. every 4 6 hours. How often should I stop The horse should have a rest period of 15 20 minutes every four to six hours during a long transport when the trailer is stopped and parked ideally in a shaded area if it is hot. During this rest period offer water stock up on food and do a general safety check

  16. Refusal to leave home for fear of separation. Does not want to be home alone and without a parent or other loved one in the home. Reluctance or refusal to sleep outside the home without a parent or other loved one nearby. Repeated nightmares about separation

  17. They described an infant or young child’s reaction to separation as occurring in three stages: protest despair and detachment. Although this theory is less popular today it provides a framework that can help adoptive parents understand the child’s experience

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