USRider® Equestrian Traveler's Companion-Fall 2023

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An Equine Network, LLC, Publication Your Essential Horse-Trailering Resource Fall 2023 Arizona’s Mysterious Superstition Mountains Ground Work At Liberty On-The-Road Veterinary Care Prep Your Trailer For Winter
USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion 2 Fall 2023 Equestrian Traveler’s COMPANION Your Essential HorseTrailering Resource Fall 2023 USRider General Manager: Bill Riss Editor: René E. Riley Art Director: Abby McDougall Contact USRider: (800) 844-1409 1079 S Hover St Ste 200, Longmont, CO 80501 • Equine Network, LLC, is the producer of award-winning magazines, including EQUUS, Horse&Rider, Practical Horseman, and The Team Roping Journal. FEATURES 8 Top Training Ground Work at Liberty 12 Horse Savvy Equine ID Kit 16 Your Healthy Horse On-the-Road Veterinary Care 20 Getaways Mountains of Mystery 24 USRider Member Story This Old Rig DEPARTMENTS 4 Trip Tips Expert Advice for Equestrian Travelers 6 Skill Set Prep Your Trailer for Winter 26 Equine Essentials Holiday Gift Ideas 28 USRider Member Benefits Frequently Asked Questions 30 Handy Checklist Trailer-Loading Guidelines COVER PHOTO BY KENT AND CHARLENE KRONE

What Members Are Saying About Recent Services

“I was in a pinch and they got me help asap. I’m so grateful there’s a service like this. Thank you for getting my horse and me home safe within an hour.”

— Chardonnay, FL (July 23)

“The member care specialist was very nice and reassuring. Tow truck driver was highly skilled. He was able to maneuver through my difficult driveway and park my horse trailer in its usual spot. I am very happy with my rescue and having my trailer returned home safely.”

— Donna, CA (July 23)

“Quick resolution and felt like I mattered. I am a CXO by precession so this rating is well deserved!”

— Karen, PA (July 23)

“Best service during the “worst” circumstances! I am very thankful for the quality of service received.”

— Jamie, GA (July 23)

“While I wish I had never needed to call, I felt that USRider made a pretty awful situation so much better. I had help quickly, my operator stayed texting with me until I was towed home safely.”

— Shonnessy, WA (August 23)

“She was absolutely wonderful!!!!!! I loved the fact that she/ the company’s first question is… are you and your horse safe. Thank you for providing such a great caring service.”

— Donna, NC (August 23)

“Quick to understand the issue and prompt in response/followup; professional, articulate and friendly.”

— Pam, AZ (Aug 23)

Travel with confidence knowing USRider will get you back on the road safely and efficiently, should unexpected vehicle or trailer problems occur.

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Nighttime Glare

The days are getting shorter, increasing the likelihood that you’ll be hauling your horse at night. When you drive in the dark, the lights of other vehicles can reduce your visibility, especially in wet weather. Water refracts light, worsening its effects. Here are several things you can do to manage nighttime glare.

Schedule an eye exam. Night blindness (nyctalopia) affects how well you see at night. This condition is actually a symptom of another problem, such as nearsightedness, glaucoma, or cataracts. Schedule regular eye exams by an ophthalmologist or optometrist.

Clean your windshield. As with sun glare, clean your windshield to reduce glare refraction. Flip your mirror. Flip the rearview mirror from day mode to night mode.

When you drive in the dark, the lights of other vehicles can reduce your visibility.


Fall Feeding

Look away. Avoid looking directly at oncoming vehicles at night. Instead, look down and to the right. Use your peripheral vision to watch the other vehicle until it passes you.

You likely know you shouldn’t start, increase, or change grains rapidly. This is one of the most dangerous things you can do in terms of risking intestinal upset. However, you may not realize that changes in hay can be bad, too. Even if you always feed the same type of hay, such as timothy, Bermuda grass, or alfalfa, different cuttings under varying growth conditions, and even different strains of the same type of forage can vary in the level of rapidly fermentable nutrients they contain.

Even changes in pasture plants can cause problems for your horse if the composition changes too much. This is especially true in the fall and spring, when grasses are growing (or regrowing) at a rapid rate. Follow these guidelines to help prevent feed-related gut upsets:

• Introduce grain feeding gradually, no more than 1 pound per feeding.

• Allow three days between each increase in grain to enable organisms to adapt.

• Don’t feed more than 4 pounds of grain at one time.

• Make changes in hay gradually, replacing from 10% to 25% of the old hay with the new variety; increase every

Changes in forage and pasture plants can cause gut problems for your horse if the composition changes too much. This is especially true in the fall and spring, when grasses are growing (or regrowing) at a rapid rate.

three days.

• Accustom your horse to lush pastures gradually, especially if grass is growing rapidly (spring and some fall conditions).

• Keep hay available for horses on young growths of pasture grass to provide complex and slowly fermented fiber, which the grasses may be lacking.

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Senior-Horse Travel

Your senior horse is an old friend that requires special care. The aging process affects all horses, but especially those that travel. Joints aren’t what they used to be. Balance is compromised. And your older horse is at risk for travel-related colic and respiratory problems. Here are seven ways to help keep your older equine partner healthy and happy while on the road.

1. Update your first-aid kit. Make sure your on-the-road first-aid kit is well-supplied and up-to-date. Update your older horse’s veterinary records.

2. Apply leg protection. In the trailer, your senior citizen is a risk for a leg injury, due to increasing lack of balance and stability. To protect his legs, apply shipping boots before every trip, no matter how short. Avoid wrapping his legs with polo wraps, as a too-tight wrap can compromise his circulation and weaken his tendons.

3. Support his respiration. In the trailer, your older horse may inhale dust, debris, and hay parti-

cles, which can lead to respiratory problems. Tie him loosely enough so that he can drop his head to clear his air passages, but not so loose that he could catch a hoof in the lead rope. Ventilate your trailer, even in cool temperatures. Invest in window screens to keep out road debris.

4. Provide feed. On the road, keep your older horse on his normal feeding schedule. An interrupted schedule puts him at risk for colic. Ask your veterinarian about a formulated senior feed that meets his nutritional needs.

5. Provide water. Dehydration also puts your traveling senior at risk for colic. It can also lead to muscle tremors and weakness, due to a loss of potassium and other electrolytes.

6. Drive carefully. Your older horse can’t brace himself and balance as well as a younger horse can. Double the space between you and the vehicle in front of you, so you can stop slowly and gently. Turn slowly and with care. Watch for potholes and speed bumps.

7. Take breaks. On long hauls, stop


Your senior horse is an old friend that requires special care. The aging process affects all horses, but especially those that travel.

every two to three hours to let your older horse rest his joints and drink water. If you’re in a quiet, safe spot, unload him, and allow him also to stretch his muscles. This will increase his comfort and lessen his stiffness when you arrive at your destination.

Sign Up for Auto Renew

USRider created the Auto Renew feature to simplify bill-paying for its Members. When a Member’s renewal becomes more than 30 days delinquent, a fee of $29 is assessed to reactivate the membership. With the Auto Renew feature, the membership is automatically renewed each year on the credit card the Member has placed on file with USRider.

With USRider’s Auto Renew feature, your membership will be automatically renewed every year using the credit card you’ve placed on file.

USRider notifies Members 30 days prior to the expiration date advising them that their account is going to automatically renew and on which credit card. If the credit card on file has expired, that information will be included in the letter. The renewal will be presented to the Member’s credit card 10 days prior to the expiration date; this gives USRider time to notify the Member if any problems are encountered. Keep USRider informed of any changes to your credit card. Visit, and click on the Member’s Area.

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Prep Your Trailer for Winter

Here’s how to prepare your trailer for a harsh winter, while keeping it ready in case of an emergency.

Here’s how to prepare your trailer so it’ll withstand the effects of the long winter months, yet will still be ready to roll in case of an emergency.

If you live in an area where you need to prepare for potentially harsh winters of frigid temperatures, freezing rain, and snow, you’ll need to take measures to protect your trailer until spring. You don’t want to completely take your trailer out of service, because you may need to use it in an emergency. Your goal is to prep your

trailer so it’ll withstand the effects of the long winter months, yet will still be ready to roll if you need to use it. Here’s how.

Winterize the living quarters. If your trailer has living quarters with electricity, battery, propane, and water, you’ll need to winterize this

area for storage. Check your trailer’s owner’s manual for instructions on draining water from the pipes, tanks, and the water heater. Your preparations will include adding antifreeze to the water system, disconnecting the batteries, and turning off all gas tanks. It’s also a good idea to store the batteries in a warm environment.

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Winterize your trailer. Drain all water tanks (interior/exterior), and leave the valves and/or caps loose. Disconnect the cables of the interior 12-volt marine battery you use for interior lights and fans when your trailer isn’t plugged into your tow vehicle. Or, turn off everything electrical. Remove the emergency-brake battery, and store it inside, but keep it handy so you can put it back if you need to use the trailer. Check the tire pressure. Keep the tires near maximum pressure. Fill them equally and make sure the caps are secure on the tire stems to keep out weather and dirt.

Check the lug nuts for tightness. Clean the interior. Clean any remains of manure or urine from the mats, remove the mats, and scrub the floor. Leftover urine and manure can do considerable damage to trailer floors, especially aluminum. Remove any shavings or bedding. These materials absorb and maintain moisture, which can cause the interior to sweat and mildew.

Replace the mats. Let the floor dry, and replace the mats. It’s best to leave the mats leaning against the walls to let the floor breathe, but make sure you can easily install them if you need to use the trailer.

Wash and wax. Wash any excess dirt from your trailer’s exterior. If your trailer has exterior paint, a good waxing will help protect it. If your trailer has interior paint, a good waxing will be beneficial for the inside, too.

Oil moving parts. Spray all hinges and door latches with a lubricant,

such as WD-40. Stick the tube inside the key holes, and spray in there, too. Then oil the jack and coupler. To keep the jack working smoothly, remove the cap on the top, and apply grease to the gears. Spray the coupler’s latching mechanism with WD-40 or similar lubricant.

Restock the first-aid kit. Restock the emergency first-aid kit with any supplies you might have used over the past riding season. Update medications and bandages.

Safely store emergency supplies. If you live in an area of extreme cold weather, put your emergency kit and flares in a duffel bag, and store them in a warm place that you can easily access, then throw them in the trailer if you need to load up and leave in a hurry.

Pack a shovel and sandbags. If it snows in your area, store a shovel and a couple bags of sand in case you get stuck in a snow drift or mud.

Close it up. Close all vents. Close all the windows except for a slight opening to prevent a buildup of condensation both in the horse area and in the tack area.

Unlock the doors. Remove all tack and valuables, and unlock the trailer doors. A freezing rain could ice up the keyholes, preventing them from opening.

Cover the tires. Cold weather can affect trailer tires somewhat, but most damage is caused by the sun.

Ultraviolet rays are brutal on rubber; long exposure to sunlight will result in cracks (dry rot) in the sidewalls. As dry rot worsens, the tires will need to be replaced. Cover the tires with vinyl tire covers to protect them from the sun.

Store or cover your trailer. Store your trailer under a roof, if possible. If it’ll be outside, cover it with a waterproof, breathable cover. A cover isn’t essential for most modern-day trailers, but the extra protection won’t hurt and may add years to the life of the exterior. Keep it accessible. Avoid driving your trailer when the roads are bad, due to snow or ice. But once the roads are cleared and you can safely take out your trailer, you don’t want to have to dig it out from behind the barn or a pile of snow and ice. Store your trailer in a place where you can easily back up, hook it up, and get on the road.

Secure your trailer. If your trailer isn’t on a solid surface, such as concrete or blacktop, place the wheel or sand foot at the bottom of the jack on a piece of wood, or block so it doesn’t sink into the ground. If it sinks too much, you may not be able to crank it high enough to get it onto the hitch ball.

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PHOTO BY CLIXPHOTO.COM Cover the tires with vinyl tire covers to protect them from the sun.

Ground Work at Liberty

Work your horse at liberty to teach him to respond to your cues from the ground.

Working your horse at liberty gives you a superior level of connection with him. At liberty simply means that he has no restraint—no lead line or tether.

Building a trusting relationship with your horse will teach him to respond to your clear, consistent cues and will enhance your bond with him. It’ll also boost your confidence and teach your horse to

more readily respond to your cues from the ground when you load him into the trailer.

When your horse will respond willingly to your leadership and direction without a means of reinforcement, he’s tuned in to your gestures, postures, and movements, willing to follow any direction you give.

In the herd, horses follow the cues of their herdmates to know

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Liberty work equates to good training and an ideal relationship between horse and human. If your horse is well-trained, he can move up to this challenge of being off the lead.

when to turn, stop, and move. In this way, your horse is programmed to tune in to your cues and work well at liberty. We’re the ones who need to learn the skills, become aware of our own body language, and be consistent with our cues.

When your horse learns that your body-language cues—your gestures and position—have meaning, he’ll love responding to them, because that’s his language. Give him clear cues, then reinforce those cues with a lead line or training flag.

If you’re consistent over time, you’ll no longer need to use reinforcement, and you’ll be able to work without the tether. Your horse will learn to trust you to provide consistent cues, and you’ll show him that you trust him.

Your horse would much rather get a cue from your body language instead of first feeling a pull on the lead. He’ll learn that you’ll provide a body signal and a gesture before adding reinforcement.

And when your horse learns to trust you to ask before forcing him, he’ll respond to that same improved relationship in the saddle, tuning in and responding to your cues.

I find that my horses are more tuned in to me and actually try harder when they’re at liberty—they work hard, as if to show me I don’t need to use that halter or bridle anymore!

Here, I’ll teach you how to prepare your horse to work at liberty. First, you’ll lead your horse while giving clear cues, performing circle work with obvious hand signals. You’ll then test your horse’s obedience without the lead.

You must have a solid foundation of lead-line work, including stop, start, change speed, and change directions, before you take off the halter and see results.

Above: When your horse stays with you during upward and downward transitions and turns on the lead line, upgrade to the neck rope, an intermediate step to total liberty. Inset: Make sure there’s a leather connection on the neck rope for an emergency release.

Prep and Gear

To start, you’ll need a rope halter and a 12- to 15-foot training lead. You may want to use a training flag, longe whip, or stick as an extension of your arm to help signal and reinforce your cues. Then you’ll outfit your horse in a neck rope with a breakaway leather connection so that you can apply some reinforcement if needed. Finally, you’ll take off all restraints to test your cues and your horse’s responses while working at liberty in a safe, enclosed environment with good footing.

Step-by-Step Technique

For each at-liberty task you’ll teach, you’ll need to plan out a precise set of body-language cues to help your horse learn to do exactly what you want.

For instance, if you’re leading your horse and want to turn to the right, you’ll first raise your arms to the level

of your chest, point your fingers in the direction of your turn, then begin turning your body and moving your feet in the direction you want to go.

Your horse will pick up on your cues when they’re precise and consistent and will soon know to turn as soon as your raise your arms and point.

When you have each skill’s cues planned out and practiced, your horse will know just what to do whether he’s tethered with a halter or at liberty, but tuned in to your cues.

As you teach your horse to go from lead line to liberty, avoid starting each cue with a pull on the lead. If you start your cue with a pull, you won’t have a cue that can translate to liberty work. Use the lead line (or reins, when you’re riding) only for reinforcement—not as the initial cue. Step 1: Teach the standstill. When your horse can stand quietly, stay next to you, and follow your hand

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signals and body-cues from the lead line, he’s following the same cues that he’ll use at liberty. First, teach your horse to stand still when asked. Ask him to stop, then stand facing him, just to one side. Correct him if he moves toward you or takes a step away from you.

Step 2. Start and stop. Teach your horse to stay beside you as you walk, no matter what speed you go—fast or slow. To do this, make frequent changes of speed, requesting obedience. Teach your horse that when he sees you speed up or slow down, that’s the body cue to move accordingly.

To start, lean your upper body forward, then move your feet at the pace you choose. Your body language provides your horse with a visual cue he can use either on or off the lead. You may add a verbal cue to walk on.

If your horse doesn’t respond to your body and verbal cues, correct him with a tug on the lead. Use the tug as reinforcement after the cue and only if he doesn’t respond.

To stop, tilt your upper body back, then slow your feet. Add the verbal cue, “Whoa.” Again, only reinforce your body and verbal cues with a tug on the lead if your horse doesn’t respond. Reinforcement should come within a second of the cue.

Step 3: Turn left and right. To turn, point your feet and shoulders toward your horse, and raise your hands toward his head, pointing in the direction you want to go with both hands. If he doesn’t immediately turn away from you, gently poke him with your pointed fingers (first point, then touch) in the nose or on the neck. Move your feet to quicken his pace. Start with wide, arcing turns. As he gets more responsive, make your turns smaller and quicker until he begins to pivot. He must learn to stay with you, turn with you, and be honed in to your body cues.

lightweight tether that goes around the throatlatch), an intermediate step to total liberty. With the neck rope, you’re very close to liberty, but still have a tether. Your horse knows he doesn’t have on a full halter, so he feels freer, but you still have a means for reinforcement if needed. Also use the neck rope whenever you’re working at liberty in a new environment or if there are more distractions than usual.

Repeat Steps 1 through 3 with the neck rope.

Tip: To leave your hands free for signaling, tuck the loose end of the neck rope in your pocket, only reaching for it if your horse needs reinforcement. Step 5. Move to the round pen. When you start a horse in the round pen, you’re actually starting at liberty. It allows you to continue your horse’s liberty training in a safe, enclosed environment. If your horse is young or you haven’t done ground work in the past, the round pen is a great place to begin on your quest to progress to liberty circling. He’ll learn your cues to slow down and speed up, and change direction. You’ll use this same skill to change his direction and freelonge in a larger pen while at liberty. (When you work horse at liberty, always stay in a confined area so he won’t run off .)

Step 4: Switch to the neck rope. When your horse stays with you during upward and downward transitions and turns on the lead line, upgrade to the neck rope (a short,

Step 6. Reinforce lead-line lessons. First, work your horse on a circle with a halter and training lead to make sure that he has a good work ethic and knows to tune in to your directional and speed cues. Before moving

Make sure that your horse will follow you without needing a tug on the neck rope. He should turn when you turn and stay right beside you. >>

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“Building a trusting relationship with your horse will teach him to respond to your clear, consistent cues and will enhance your bond with him.”

Your horse should go the speed you choose and stay in step. Having the neck rope will help you practice liberty work while having a means to correct him if needed.

onto liberty (free longe) circling, he should respond to very subtle cues on the lead. If you move your legs to step in front of his motion, he should stop with that subtle cue. If he sees you point in a new direction, he should tune in and see what to do. When he’s paying attention and is tuned in to your more precise cues, it’s time to try it at liberty.

To send your horse in a circle, point in the direction you want him to go, then use your free hand to wave him out and onto a circle or out to free-longe. To change his direction, step toward his balance point as though to cut him off. As soon as he stops, gesture to him by pointing in the new direction, then shoo him away from you.

The balance point or driveline is just behind your horse’s elbow. If you get in front of it, he’ll stop and/or turn around; if you stay behind it, he’ll move forward. You have to be aware of the balance point in order to circle him.

Step 7. Move to a large arena. When you move to a large arena, your horse may run around wildly at first, but he’ll eventually move to a smaller circle. If you keep him moving and don’t let him stop and rest, he’ll come

When your horse stays with you without needing a tug on the neck rope, it’s time to test his skills at liberty.

to a smaller and smaller orbit around you. He’ll tend to find the size circle that he likes and stay there.

What’s the worst thing that can happen with liberty work in a large pen? Your horse may gravitate toward the gate and you may have to run around a bit. Keep him moving; if he loses his connection with you, cut him off and turn him around. Only let him stop and rest when he’s paying attention and circling around you. Only allow him to stop away from the gate.

Step 8. Continue liberty work. Using the cues you taught your horse on and off the lead line, ask him to move at different gaits. Ask him to turn. Ask him to circle you, then move farther away. Make sure you have the authority to keep him cantering/loping if you ask for the gait. It takes authority to keep a horse moving when he’s farther away from you—using a flag for reinforcement helps apply mental pressure when you don’t have the proximity to tap with a whip.

The sounds and movement of the flag gives more stimuli than just a whip, and your gestures are more natural. I find a flag is more useful and works from a farther distance, rather than teaching a horse that when he’s

out of range of your longe whip, he doesn’t have to go.

Go at the speed that’s best for your horse. Free-longeing doesn’t mean moving at warp speed without paying attention. It means honing in on your cues and making sure that your horse follows your signals.

When your horse is paying attention and doing what you ask, let him stop and rest, offering copious praise. Keep in mind that you’re doing this so he’ll learn that he benefits—you’ll trust him and let him rest if he does well. USR

Julie Goodnight trains horses and coaches horse owners to be ready for any event, on the trail or in the performance arena. After producing the popular RFD-TV series, Horse Master with Julie Goodnight, for 11 years, Goodnight now shares the world of horses through 2Horse Productions, and through appearances at clinics and horse expos throughout the United States. She also hosts her monthly horse training podcast, Ride On with Julie Goodnight.

Heidi Melocco is a riding instructor, photographer, and writer based in Mead, Colorado.

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Equine ID Kit

You can help keep your horse safe by putting together an identification package; here’s how.

Freeze branding is an effective way to identify your horse. A cold iron applied to the horse’s neck destroys the skin cells that produce hair color. The hair grows back in white in the shape of the brand.

You can help keep your horse safe by putting together an identification package. You may be surprised to learn that horse owners all over North America often end up in a position of having to prove to someone—including themselves—that the horse they see in front of them is actually the one they own. Theft (at home and on the road), natural disasters, and accidents (including trailer accidents) can leave your horse in a compromised situation, and you in a panic. Identifying your horse ahead of time is the best way of ensuring that, should something unexpected happen, you and

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your equine companion will soon be reunited.

Reasons to ID Your Horse

Horse owners can find themselves in several situations that make equine identification a must. In any one of these situations, you and your horse stand a better chance of becoming reunited if your horse has some form of identification.

Theft. People often steal horses for resale to the slaughterhouse or to unknowing individuals who are simply looking for a horse to buy. Thieves take horses from private property, horse shows, riding-vacation venues, boarding stables, etc.

Natural disasters. Horses are sometimes separated from their owners as the result of natural disasters. Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires, and even earthquakes can create situations where horses get out of their enclosures or are deliberately turned loose in an effort to save their lives. Rescue workers may take horses from their stalls or pastures and haul them to safety. If you’re absent at the time of the rescue, you may have no way of knowing where your horse ended up, unless he has identification. Accidents. Trail riders in wilderness parks or other remote areas can become separated from their horses. Horses sometimes get loose at shows or at facilities far from home, ending up in situations with strangers who have no idea where the horse belongs. Trailering accidents can also result in a lost horse.

Do-It-Yourself ID Kit

The easiest way to identify your horse is to build an identification packet. Here’s how.

Document markings. First, document your horse’s markings. If your horse is a purebred, you’ll already have this in the registration packet. (If not, you can find these forms online.) On the drawings, note all your horse’s white markings, chestnuts, and cowlicks. Chestnuts are the horny, irregular growths on the inside of a horse’s legs. You can find cowlicks in the center of hair whorls on your horse’s forehead, and often on his neck and throatlatch. Take photos. Take photos of your horse from the front, back, and both sides. Make copies. Make two copies of both the form and the photos. Put those together with copies of your horse’s Coggins papers and any other significant information. Keep the kits handy. Keep one ID kit in your home and another at the barn or in your truck’s glove box. Not only will you always have ready access to a copy, but if disaster strikes your house or your barn, you’ll have another one offsite.

Other Types of ID

You also have several different options for marking your horse. Some owners use only one of these methods, while some combine several to ensure their horse will be identified in any situation. (For more information on equine identification from the USDA, click here.)

To make an equine ID kit, take photos of your horse from each side, and from the front and the back. Make two prints of all four photos, and keep one set with each of the two ID kits you create.

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“ and your horse stand a better chance of becoming reunited if your horse has some form of identification. ”

Do You Need a Brand-Inspection Certificate?

A certificate of brand inspection is required to cross some state lines, particularly if in the West. When traveling check each state’s brand-inspection agency as to brand requirements, registration, and certificates. A brand-inspection certificate registers your brand to prove ownership. For instance, in Colorado, the definition of a brand is “a permanent mark on the hide of an animal registered with any State as a livestock brand. Freeze brands are considered permanent marks. Tattoos aren’t considered as brands. The most effective and permanent method of identification is the mark produced with a hot iron.”

Microchip. Electronic identification microchips are becoming more widely used in the horse world. A veterinarian injects this tiny computer chip into a ligament in the horse’s neck. Each chip contains a unique number that corresponds to the owner’s information, which a microchip registering company maintains electronically.

Halter tag. Halter tags are sold in tack stores and through equine catalogs. The tag can be engraved with one or two lines, including your phone number and address. Of course, this method is only effective if your horse is wearing the tagged halter. Freeze brand. In this method, a cold iron is applied to the horse’s neck, where it destroys the cells in the skin that produce color in the hair. The hair in that area grows back in white, in the shape of the brand. With white

Above: If a natural disaster looms, one way to identify your horse is to braid a tag into his mane that has your contact information.

Right: A tail ID is useful in case of a natural disaster or accident. Put a luggage tag with your name, phone number, address, and horse’s information in your horse’s tail. Be sure to braid the tag in rather than tying it to your horse’s dock; tying it could cut off his tail circulation.

or gray horses, the hair doesn’t grow back. These permanent marks are recorded with a freeze-branding registry.

Hot brand. Brands traditionally used for marking cattle also can be used on horses. A hot iron is applied to the horse’s neck, shoulder, or rump. The heat kills the hair-producing cells, and the horse’s hair doesn’t grow back in the affected area. Hot brands aren’t as popular for identification purposes now that freeze brands and marks are available.

Lip tattoo. Racehorses have long received lip tattoos for identification. Some horse owners prefer this method of identification over branding or marking, because the tattoo can’t

be seen unless the horse’s mouth is examined. Lip tattoos eventually fade and become hard to read.

DNA testing. Purebred horses can be identified using DNA testing. A strand of the horse’s mane is sent to a testing laboratory, with the participating purebred registry recording the results. A DNA test is considered valid evidence when proving a horse’s ownership in a court of law.

Hoof brand. Hot-branding a hoof mark, done by a farrier, is painless to the horse. Because the horse’s hoof grows regularly, the mark isn’t permanent and must be reapplied. USR

A. Maestro is a freelance writer and horse owner based in California.

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On-the-Road Veterinary Care

If your horse suffers an injury or illness while you’re traveling, follow these steps to arrange optimal veterinary care.

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------------YOUR HEALTHYHORSE------------

You’re on the road with your horse, in an unfamiliar place, when your horse suddenly pulls up lame. Or, he becomes injured. Or colics. Or comes down with a mysterious illness. You’re miles from home—and your familiar veterinarian. What should you do? First, stay calm. Then follow these steps to find a reputable vet, ensure optimal care for your horse, and keep your own vet updated so he or she can follow your horse’s progress.

Step 1. Find a veterinarian.

Finding a reputable vet is your first concern. If you’re with local riders, ask them who to call. If you’re on your own, use your laptop or mobile device to locate the nearest equine veterinarian. USRider Equestrian Motor Plan offers emergency trip-interruption veterinarian referral services to members. Another good resource is the American Association of Equine Practitioners; this organization’s GetA-DVM feature allows you to fill in any city and state, and get the names of AAEP members. You can also try to reach your own veterinarian for a referral.

Step 2. Pull your horse’s medical records.

Whenever you leave home, no matter how short of a trip, take your horse’s medical records. If they’re on your computer, print out the records so you have them handy no matter where you are. These records include your horse’s current Coggins test (for equine infectious anemia), vaccination records, deworming records (including products used), and his baseline vital signs. Baseline vital signs are those taken when your horse is home, healthy, and rested. If your horse is insured, keep handy all equine-insurance information (company, agent, and hotline number). Also include the basics: Your horse’s age, breed, gender, and use.

Include notes on your horse’s normal eating and drinking habits, a list of any medicines and supplements he’s receiving, his disposition (calm/ laid-back vs. nervous/excitable, aggressive vs. passive, etc.), his farrier records, and anything else that might be useful for a vet to know about your horse.

If your horse requires veterinary treatment on the road, pull this

folder, and be ready to give it to the emergency vet. (After the vet treats your horse, update your horse’s medical records to reflect all diagnostic tests, treatment, and medications he received.)

Step 3. Take your horse’s vital signs. For a downloadable PDF on how to take your horse’s vital signs, from USRider’s sister publication, EQUUS, click here. Take your horse’s temperature, pulse, and respiration. Also give him a capillary-refill test: Press down on his gums, and see how long it takes for them to return to their normal color. (It shouldn’t take longer than two seconds.) The emergency vet can then compare your horse’s vital signs with the baseline records. If your horse appears to be colicking, listen for gut sounds on both sides of his abdomen with a stethoscope. You want to hear rumbles of a healthy gut; faint sounds or silence can indicate a potentially life-threatening colic. Seek emergency medical attention immediately.

Step 4. Keep your horse calm. You can do almost anything with your horse provided that you can keep him calm. On the other hand, if he’s in pain, afraid, and/or agitated, he can quickly become resistant and uncooperative. Some horses become even more agitated when being handled by a stranger.

Help your horse stay calm by remaining quiet and calm yourself. Your instinctive reaction may be to hyperventilate and talk fast, but this is the last thing you want to do. Instead, breathe deeply, and speak slowly in a low voice. This will tell your horse that you’re neither upset nor angry, and all is well.

You’re the other half of your >>

USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion 17 Fall 2023
When the vet arrives, stand back, and let him or her assess the situation. Hand over your horse’s medical records, then answer any questions as thoroughly as you can. PHOTOS BY HEIDI MELOCCO

horse’s herd—his reactions will be strongly influenced by your calm presence, both while waiting for the vet, and during diagnosis and treatment.

Step 5. Communicate clearly. The emergency vet will want to know what made you call; that is, what signs of distress you observed and how long you’ve observed these signs. The vet will also want to know what you see at that moment and your horse’s current vital signs. Report, according to your best estimate, when your horse last

You’re likely accustomed to vets who make farm calls, treat your horse, and send you a bill. In an on-the-road emergency, expect to pay in full on the spot.

ate, drank water, urinated, and passed manure.

If there was an accident, be prepared to report what happened, and what time it happened. If your horse seems ill, report when you first noticed there was a problem. Tell the vet about any first-aid measures you took while waiting for help. Ask whether you can offer your horse water and feed while you wait. You’ll likely be asked not to administer any drugs until the vet has seen your horse.

When the vet arrives, stand back, and let him or her assess the situation. Hand over your horse’s medical records, then answer any questions as thoroughly as you can. Be specific. Your horse’s records will help the vet accurately assess your horse’s condition. For example, knowing that your horse is usually energetic will help the vet know that your horse’s apparent calm demeanor isn’t typical and may indicate shock and/or blood loss.

You might be asked to fill out an emergency-care form with information about your horse and yourself, as well as your signed promise to pay. Don’t see this as insulting in any way. Of course you intend to pay, but the vet doesn’t know you. It’s a precaution that enables him or her to stay in business.

Step 7. Follow up. No matter what your horse requires in terms of immediate diagnostic tests and treatment, be sure you understand fully the immediate follow-up care you’ll need to give your horse until you reach home. Ask for specific, detailed instructions—you’ll want to take the best possible care of your horse until you can see your regular vet.

The emergency vet will want to know what made you call; that is, what signs of distress you observed and how long you’ve observed these signs.

Step 6. Pay in full. You’re likely accustomed to vets who make farm calls, treat your horse, and send you a bill. In an on-the-road emergency, expect to pay in full on the spot. Most vets and veterinary clinics take credit cards, and most will give you an estimate for any diagnostic tests required followed by another estimate for treatment.

Call your horse’s regular vet immediately, and make an appointment for follow-up care as soon as possible after you return. The emergency vet’s discharge record will describe exactly what was done, thus allowing your regular vet to evaluate your horse’s progress. USR

Jessica Jahiel, PhD (, is an internationally recognized clinician and lecturer, and an award-winning author of books on horses, riding, and training. Her email newsletter ( is a popular worldwide resource.

USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion 18 Fall 2023

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Mountains of Mystery

Arizona’s Superstition Mountains are steeped in lore, intrigue, and mystery.

Article and Photos by Kent & Charlene Krone

Above: King Stable in Apache Junction served as Kent and Charlene Krone’s base of operations while exploring Arizona’s Superstition Mountains. They camped with their Missouri Fox Trotter geldings, Nate and Cowboy, staying in their living-quarters trailer at King Stable in Apache Junction. Inset: The best time to ride and camp in this area is November through March to avoid the area’s searing heat. Shown is Charlene Krone at King Stable, which offers ample space for trailers.

USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion 20 Fall 2023 ------------ GETAWAYS

Few mountain ranges are as steeped in lore, intrigue, and mystery as the Superstition Mountains, located northeast of Phoenix in the Superstition Wilderness Area, which encompasses 160,200 acres of the 4,489-square-mile Tonto National Forest. Equestrian adventurers are drawn to this rugged area to ride and camp with their horses, and photograph the mountains’ ruthless beauty.

The best time to ride and camp in this area is November through March to avoid the area’s searing heat. We headed there one February and camped with our Missouri Fox Trotter geldings, Nate and Cowboy. We stayed in our living-quarters trailer at King Stable in Apache Junction.

Lost Dutchman Gold Mine

Prehistoric indigenous people once made their home in the Superstition Mountains. Petroglyphs, pottery shards, and small cliff dwellings from as long ago as 800 A.D. are evidence of their past existence.

By the late 1800s, ranchers and miners settled in the area. Ranchers supplied beef to the military and nearby towns, while miners searched for precious metals. Several mines are still in operation today.

The most famous mine in the Superstition Mountains was the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine. Legend has it that the Peralta family of Sonora, Mexico, developed several mines. These were later “rediscovered” by Jacob Waltz, an itinerant mine laborer and German immigrant.

Waltz later became known as The Dutchman, a common American term for a person from Germany; the term is derived from “Deutsch,” the German word for German. People have been trying to find the Lost Dutchman’s gold mine for 100 years; many have died trying.

Hackberry Spring

A great introductory ride into the Superstitions is the trail to Hackberry Spring and Garden Valley. For direct access to Hackberry and Garden Valley, drive to the First Water Trailhead, located 5.6 miles northeast of Apache Junction on State Route 88, between Mileposts 201 and 202. Turn right off Route 88, and drive 2.6 miles to the First Water Trailhead parking lot.

We rode from the northeast corner of the parking lot, into a ravine, and turned left onto a trail that curved uphill. At the top, we paused to give our horses a breather and take in the gorgeous scenery. Then we checked our cinches for the steep downhill portion of the trail.

We rode what’s called the Dragon’s Backbone down into a draw and directly into Hackberry Spring. This is a special place. Just leave hoofprints, and take memories.

The spring sits in a shady canyon with sheer, colorful cliffs rising a couple hundred feet on one side. There’s generally water at the base of the cliff. The canyon floor is carpeted with velvet-green grass and canopied with trees.

After a good rest, we rode past the spring and uphill to a fence opening >>

Kent and Charlene exploring the Superstition Mountains. “Carry maps and a global-positioning system,” they advise. “Many trail junctions aren’t marked, and getting lost is easier than you might think.”

Arizona is known for its dry climate, but flash floods happen quickly and can be deadly. Head to high ground immediately.

One of the largest saguaros in the world is in the Superstition Mountains. A saguaro can grow more than 70 feet tall. It takes 75 years of growth for a saguaro to develop its first arm. Many saguaros live more than 150 years.

USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion 21 Fall 2023
“We rode what’s called the Dragon’s Backbone down into a draw and directly into Hackberry Spring.
This is a special place. Just leave hoofprints, and take memories. “

“The Lost Goldmine Trail’s panoramic beauty springs from its proximity to the Superstition Mountains, the varied maze of cacti, and abundant wildflowers,” write the Krones. “Shortly before we arrived at the parking lot, we spotted a great horned owl asleep in a croft of a saguaro cactus. A perfect ending!”

and worked our way up to Garden Valley. The large, flat Garden Valley is filled with mesquite trees and chain fruit cholla. We continued on down and out the valley to the First Water Trailhead parking lot.

The Dutchman’s Trail

On a crystalline mid-February morning, we rode an approximate 10-mile Dutchman Trail/Black Mesa loop. Once again, we used the First Water Trailhead. This is a beautiful, albeit rocky, ride in the Superstition Wilderness Area. There’s a great deal of brittle, volcanic rock, and the soil layer is thin.

We began our ride with plenty of water, packed lunches, and high spirits. It’s always fun to do a new ride; we hadn’t ridden this loop before.

In less than half a mile, we came to the boundary of the Superstition Wilderness Area, a desolate, ruthless, hauntingly beautiful expanse that has lured many hopeful dreamers to untimely deaths.

Trail names here remind us of the lost-gold mystery. Did Jacob Waltz, the Dutchman, leave his cache of gold nearby? Pondering that thought,

“Equestrian adventurers are drawn to this rugged area to ride and camp with their horses, and photograph the mountains’ ruthless beauty,” note the Krones.

we turned right onto the Dutchman’s Trail, a rocky, four-mile pull to Parker Pass. From the trailhead to the pass, we gained 900 feet in elevation and took in glorious scenery.

We followed the trail down the pass and came to our next intersection, Boulder Flat. From here, we could easily see Weaver’s Needle, a prominent landmark. Folklore says that once a year the shadow of Weaver’s Needle crosses the site of the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine.

After lunch, we turned left and headed up a steep, rocky hill that we followed for three miles. To our right, we could see Black Mesa, a thin layer of black volcanic rock atop tan cliffs.

At the end of three miles, we reached another trail junction and turned left. In 1.5 miles, this connects with the Dutchman’s Trail, which leads right back to First Water Trailhead parking lot.

Lost Goldmine Trail

The Lost Goldmine Trail’s panoramic beauty springs from its proximity to the Superstition Mountains, the varied maze of cacti, and abundant wildflowers. Amarillo brittlebush dots

the desert floor; fluffy, scarlet blossoms perch atop staghorn cactus like festive Easter hats.

To find the trailhead to the Lost Goldmine Trail, turn north off U.S. Route 60 onto King Ranch Rd., then drive a couple miles to the Hieroglyphic Trail parking lot. From the north end of this lot, you can ride the Lost Goldmine Trail east.

On the first several miles of this trail, we had a visual feast of mountains on our left, undulating flats on our right, and diverse plant life all around. Nearing our turning point, we checked out a verdant copse of palo verdes and led the way.

Suddenly there was a loud “woof!” A large mass sprang out of the brush, scaring horses and riders alike. It was an enormous javelina, its face streaked with white bristles.

This ride can be made into a loop by turning across the valley to the right and heading to the first ridge a short distance away. A trail following this ridge heads in a southwesterly direction.

At the end of the ridge, we followed a trail to the right to the parking lot we started from. Shortly before >>

USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion 22 Fall 2023

we arrived at the parking lot, we spotted a great horned owl asleep in a croft of a saguaro cactus. A perfect ending!

Coffee Flat Trail

The Peralta Trailhead is located just

a few miles east of the turnoff for the Lost Goldmine Trail. We headed out on the Coffee Flat loop.

Not realizing they were in for a long, hot ride, our horses eagerly headed out of the parking lot and straight uphill. We turned right on

Dutchman’s Trail (#104) and rode the 2.6 miles to the Coffee Flat trail. Interesting rock formations towered nearby.

We reached the Coffee Flat trail and turned right. After several miles, we came to a gate. We took a quick left and rode to a lonely windmill amid feathered greenery. This was our long-awaited lunch spot.

We made ride a loop by continuing a mile down the basin to a second gate and small road. We turned right on this road, then went through another gate and back to Coffee Flat Trail. USR

Seasoned equestrian travelers Kent and Charlene Krone combine their interest in photojournalism with a passion for horses. They enjoy sharing their horseback adventures and equestrian-travel tips with fellow enthusiasts.

USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion 23 Fall 2023
The west end of the Superstitions is a mecca for horse-drawn-carriage enthusiasts. People from around the country bring their wagons and horses to use on local trails.

This Old Rig

This young eventer stays on the show circuit with a 22-yearold tow vehicle thanks to the prompt services of USRider® Equestrian Motor Plan.

At first, we weren’t worried. Through the local Ford dealership, my dad had installed a new engine starter motor in our 22-year-old F-250, which pulled our similarly old two-horse, straight-load trailer.

But a few weeks before a summer weekend eventing rally sponsored by our local United States Pony Club chapter, there were some indications of trouble. Anyone who’s owned or driven an old truck/trailer rig knows the feeling—the sense that if anything bad can happen, it will!

‘Small Things’

Small things kept adding up. For example, one afternoon after a riding lesson, I loaded my 9-year-old Thoroughbred, Tally, into the trailer for the trip back to the barn. My dad turned the truck’s ignition key, but the engine didn’t

respond. It took a few more tries before the engine finally turned over. Then the problem happened again. My dad thought it must have something to do with the battery or ignition switch, but these were checked and seemed to be okay. He never imagined that the newly installed starter motor might be the culprit.


The crisis we’d sensed occurred the evening before departing for the weekend eventing rally. We’d just arrived back at our home barn from my last riding lesson before the event. After offloading Tally and hosing out the trailer, my dad wanted to park the rig in its usual spot, but he couldn’t get the engine to start at all.

I began to sense that my appearance at the eventing rally was in serious jeop- >>

USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion 24 Fall 2023
------------ USRIDERMEMBERSTORY------------
Katrina Muga hauls her horse, Tally, to eventing rallies in this 22-year-old Ford F-250. The truck recently had problems with a new starter motor, leading to a crisis on the road.

ardy. It was a Friday evening, just past five o’clock, and all the auto-repair shops were closed. And the local Ford outlet was closed on the weekends, so a Saturday-morning fix was out.

A barn aide suggested pounding on the new engine starter with a rubber hammer to loosen the starter’s motor internal valve, in case it was stuck. We were suspicious, but desperate. The aide then got under the truck and pounded on the starter motor while my dad turned the ignition key. Lo and behold, on about the fourth hammer blow, the engine started right up!

Fateful Stop

My dad now knew that the truck had a defective starter motor. So the next day, it was with great trepidation that we hitched up the trailer, loaded Tally, and turned the ignition switch. We were pleasantly surprised when the truck started like a charm. Off we went to the rally, about two hours away.

At the end of the rally, we approached the truck with a great deal of anxiety. We were all tired and wanted to return home. So we were relieved when the motor turned over and we were on our way.

But there was one small obstacle. Both of the truck’s fuel tanks—main and reserve—were low. To fuel up, we would have to shut off the engine and hope the engine would restart. My dad’s strategy was to get as far down the road as possible, then mobilize our local resources. That is, my mom could come and pick us up!

We made it to the interstate’s first off-ramp just inside the city limits. Fortunately, there was a service station right there. We sailed into the service station, and my dad reluctantly turned off the engine.

After refueling, the engine wouldn’t start, even after my dad pounded on the starter with a rubber mallet. Then the station attendant came out with a bigger mallet. But after an hour or so, the truck still wouldn’t start. We were 17 miles from the barn.

At this point, my dad called USRider. He was told a tow truck would be arriving in a few minutes. I wondered why we’d waited so long to contact USRider. It seemed so simple. And sure enough, within 10 minutes, the tow truck arrived.

The tow-truck driver suggested that we first, tow the trailer to the barn to put Tally out to pasture, then

return to the station and tow the truck to the local Ford dealership for repairs. We accomplished these goals with great efficiency.

Happy Ending

In the end, Tally was happy to be back in her pasture after a long day, my dad was happy to have his cherished truck at the dealership for repairs, and I was most content to have had the opportunity to compete in the eventing rally—and to finally reach home safely after an exhausting and trying day.

However, this happy ending never would’ve been possible without the services of our USRider membership. Literally, within a few minutes of contacting them, we had a process in place to successfully handle the ordeal of a highway breakdown that could have had serious repercussions.

We’re so thankful that we had the foresight to sign up with USRider so that we’d have the membership when we needed it. This motor plan gives us confidence as we travel to rallies and Pony Club lessons, assuring us that should anything happen along the way, USRider is just a call away. USR

USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion 25 Fall 2023
few weeks before a summer weekend eventing rally, there were some indications of trouble,” says Katrina Muga of her rig, shown here. “Anyone who’s owned or driven an old truck/trailer rig knows the feeling— the sense that if anything bad can happen, it will!” Katrina Muga and her 9-year-old Thoroughbred, Tally. “We’re so thankful that we had the foresight to sign up with USRider so that we’d have the policy when we needed it,” she says.

Holiday Gift Ideas


For Your Horses

Winnie’s Cookies are made from certified organic ingredients selected for their 22 vitamins, trace minerals, and amino acids, creating a complete nutritional supplement. Because Winnie’s Cookies contain no preservatives, they’re not stocked on store shelves. Your custom order will be handmade, baked fresh, and shipped directly to your home or barn.

For Traveling Equestrians

You enjoy all the benefits that come from a USRider Equestrian Motor Plan membership, including emergency roadside assistance, travel benefits, and Winner’s Circle Advantage discounts. Share the gift of peace of mind with your favorite horseperson with a USRider Gift Membership. Just go to the USRider website, log in, and click on Gift Membership. Bonus: Your own USRider membership will be extended by one month for each gift membership you give.

For Your Riding Buddies

The Horse Holster from Handy Holsters™ is the perfect way for your riding buddies to carry a cellphone and other necessities while in the saddle. Made from flexible, water-resistant neoprene, the holster fits all sizes of cellphones and cases. A front zippered pocket provides extra storage for keys, money, identification, and more. Three D-rings offer wearing options, and a no-slip attachment strap with two removable clips secure the holster secure on a pocket, belt, waistband, or belt loop. More colors and patterns available.

For Kids of All Ages

Fergus, the world’s most popular cartoon horse turns into the world’s most traveled equine with this epic holiday adventure inspired by the classic tale, “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.” In Fergus and The Night Before Christmas by Jean Abernethy, Fergus and his motley group of equine teammates bravely take to the skies to give St. Nick the sleigh ride of his life. Can Santa manage his ungainly hitch and deliver the perfect gift on the most magical night of the year? Fasten your seatbelt!

USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion 26 Fall 2023
------------EQUESTRIAN ESSENTIALS------------
a head start on your holiday shopping! Here are four delightful stocking stuffers for the special humans and horses in your life.

USRider® Equestrian Motor Plan FAQs

Are you new to USRider—or thinking about becoming a USRider Member? Here’s a rundown of answers to frequently asked questions regarding USRider Equestrian Motor Plan Member benefits. (For more information, and for details regarding USRider’s Classic and Premier membership plans, go to

Q: How many disablements am I allowed each year?

A: There’s no set limit on the number of disablements per year; however, in order to maintain fair and reasonable membership dues for all Members, USRider reviews all unusual frequency of claims based on the average number of Member claims. Usage of services considered excessive may result in limitations on the number of claims allowed, nonrenewal, or cancellation of membership. Excessive use of the plan usually indicates a vehicle is in need of maintenance or repair.

partner, may be added to any plan as an Associate Member.

Q: What if my friend or employee is driving my truck and trailer?

A: At USRider, we cover our Members in any noncommercial vehicle they’re traveling in, even if they’re not driving, but the Member must be present for coverage to be applicable. If you aren’t present, this situation wouldn’t be eligible for coverage under your membership. The person driving your truck would need their own USRider membership to be covered. Employees may be added as Associates to the Premier plan only.

Q: I occasionally haul my friend’s horse. Am I covered?

A: Yes. We’ll provide roadside assistance no matter the ownership of horses as long as our Member is present. USRider coverage isn’t applicable for commercial carriers or haul for hire; and the Emergency Trip Interruption Veterinary Services is only offered to horse(s) owned by the Member.

Q: Does USRider cover my truck and trailer?

There’s no set limit on the number of disablements per year; however, USRider reviews all unusual frequency of claims based on the average number of Member claims.

Q: Does USRider have coverage in my area?

A: Yes. USRider is administered by Nation Motor Club Inc., d/b/a Nation Safe Drivers, one of America’s oldest motor plan providers, chartered in the 1920s. As a USRider Member, you have an extensive network of dedicated service professionals ready to assist throughout the United States and Canada. Additionally, at USRider, we pay the service providers’ “going rate” and can go outside our network, if necessary.

Q: Does this membership cover any member of my family?

A: No. Your USRider membership is for the named Member and their horses. Eligible family Members, such as dependent children, and a spouse or domestic

A: Yes and no. We cover the truck and trailer when the Member is present. USRider membership follows the Member—not a particular vehicle or trailer.

Q: Does USRider tow a loaded horse trailer?

A: Yes, we’ll tow your trailer whether it’s empty or loaded with your horse(s). If your trailer can no longer be used to safely transport your animal(s), we will help locate alternative transportation. Alternative equine transportation costs are the responsibility of the Member.

Q: Does USRider cover me only when I’m towing my horse trailer?

A: No, we cover you, as the Member, in any noncommercial, roadworthy vehicle you’re in, regardless of whether you’re towing a horse trailer—or whether you’re driving. Our Members only need to be present in the vehicle at the time of disablement for coverage to be applicable. The only vehicle(s) we don’t cover are motorcycles, mopeds, and tractors.

Q: Does USRider cover vehicles with dual wheels?

A: Yes, as far as we know, USRider is the only motor plan that will service vehicles with dual wheels. USR

USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion 28 Fall 2023 ------------ USRIDERBENEFITS------------
Call for a quote: 800-50-HORSE (504-6773) Or visit: for an online quote Products available: Horse Mortality | Liability | Farm & Ranch Coverage should not be a grey area. USRider is dedicated to the welfare and safety of our members and their horses. Protecting your investment is both easy and affordable with USRider Insurance Services. Because Horses are Everything. Sign up Today and make sure you’re covered.

Trailer-Loading Guidelines

Fall’s cool days enhance hauling comfort for both you and your horse, opening up endless equestrian-adventure opportunities. Fall also means trailering to year-end shows. As you enter this busy hauling season, it’s good to follow a checklist so you don’t skip important safety steps.

If the loading and unloading process isn’t done in the right order, even the calmest horse can spook, step back, or slip, causing a harmful chain reaction. For instance, if your horse is tied in your trailer, but knows the back door is open for escape, he might pull back and panic when he can’t get free. The panic session will compound when he hears the loud echo as he slips and scrambles on a metal floor. Follow this checklist from top trainer/ clinician Julie Goodnight for safe loading and unloading every time.

Loading Your Horse

■ Prepare your trailer. Leave your horse in his pen. Hitch your trailer to your tow vehicle. (As you do, check all lights and blinkers, brake connections, and tire pressure.) Drive your trailer to a flat, open area clear of debris. Securely close all trailer doors and windows. Close the manger windows and escape doors.

■ Open the stock-compartment door. While your horse is still in his pen, open the stock-compartment door, and prepare footing and feed.

■ Load your horse. Outfit your horse in a leather or breakaway safety halter, lead him from his pen to your trailer, and load him in.

■ Shut the stock-compartment door. Shut this door immediately, before tying your horse. If you have a slant-load trailer, it’s safe to secure the compartment’s partition before you shut the door. But when the compartment door is open, don’t tie your horse. If he tries to back out (a likely scenario) and finds that he’s tied, he may panic and injure himself (and you).

■ Secure your horse. When the compartment door is closed and secured, tie your horse, then use the escape door to exit your trailer. Or, if your trailer allows for it, tie your horse while you stand safely outside your trailer.

Unloading Your Horse

■ Untie your horse. After you arrive at your destination, park at a level area, and begin the unloading process. Untie your horse first, before you open the trailer door.

■ Open the stock-compartment door. Double check to make sure your horse is completely untied, then open the stock-compartment door.

■ Lead him out. Lead your horse out of your trailer.

— Heidi Melocco with Julie Goodnight

After you load your horse, shut the stock-compartment door immediately, cautions top trainer/ clinician Julie Goodnight. If your horse is tied in your trailer, but knows the back door is open for escape, he might pull back and panic when he can’t get free.

Tie your horse inside your trailer only after the stock-compartment door is closed. Use the human escape door to exit your trailer.

USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion 30 Fall 2023


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