USRider Equestrian Traveler's Companion-Winter 2022

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Equestrian Traveler’s


Your Essential Horse-Trailering Resource Winter 2022

Easy Trailer-Loading Fix

3 Steps to Safe Winter Hauling Winter-Management Checklist

Is Your Barn Safe?

An Equine Network, LLC Publication

Equestrian Traveler’s COMPANIONWinter 2022

Your Essential HorseTrailering Resource

FEATURES 8 Trailer Training

Easy Trailer-Loading Fix

12 Your Healthy Horse Winter Management

16 Hauling Hints 6 Pearls of Wisdom

20 Getaways 10 Top Riding Destinations

24 USRider Member Story This Old Rig

DEPARTMENTS 4 Top Tips Expert Advice for Horse Owners

6 Skill Set 3 Steps to Safe Winter Hauling

26 Equestrian Gifts Stocking Stuffers

28 USRider Member Benefits Trailer Accessories

30 Handy Checklist 7 Barn Hazards COVER PHOTO BY KENT & CHARLENE KRONE

USRider General Manager: Bill Riss Editor: René E. Riley Art Director: Abby McDougall Contact USRider: (800) 844-1409 P.O. Box 20634, Boulder, CO 80308 • USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion

Equine Network, LLC, is the producer of award-winning magazines, including EQUUS, Horse&Rider, Practical Horseman, and The Team Roping Journal.


Winter 2022


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Stay in Control Trailering your horse in inclement weather? Keeping forward motion and tension on the hitch can prevent loss of control from trailer sway. If your trailer starts to sway, don’t apply your tow-vehicle brakes. Instead, apply the hand brake on the controller to your trailer in brief spurts. This slows your trailer behind you and keeps your tow vehicle going forward, which should result in straightening out your rig. Don’t apply the brakes on your tow vehicle until your trailer is under control. — Neva Kittrell Scheve


Overcome 3 Cold-Weather Challenges Here are expert tips to help you overcome a few potential winter challenges. • Physical fitness. Your horse probably isn’t getting as much exercise as he did when temperatures were more temperate, so he may be losing some of his physical fitness. The fix: Perform ground work, including longeing, to keep your horse in shape. When you do ride, warm up slowly. Stay alert for any signs of fatigue, such as heavy breathing, sweating, and stumbling. • Joint stiffness. Cold weather quickly stiffens areas of arthritis and old injuries. The fix: A brisk rub with a warming liniment, plus stretching and flexing by hand, will help your horse loosen up. Wear heavy-rubber housecleaning gloves to protect your hands from the chemicals and the cold. Wrapping your horse’s legs overnight will also help keep his joints more flexible. • Icy ground. Ice is a particularly treacherous situation, as your horse can slip and fall, risking serious injury. The fix: A barefoot horse will have better grip on ice than a horse in shoes. But even the barefoot horse will be safer on ice with hoof boots. Applying borium or studs on your horse’s shoes provide much better traction, but at the price of more strain on the joints, ligaments, and tendons. Hoof boots over shoes is another option. — Eleanor M. Kellon, VMD USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion



When you ride in winter, be considerate of your horse’s fitness level, and be careful of the ground conditions. Winter 2022


Healthy Hooves Here are nine ways to help keep your horse’s hooves healthy all winter long. • Think ahead. Meet with your farrier to discuss any adjustment of the shoeing or trimming schedule over winter. Set farrier appointments in advance. • Eliminate hazards. Around your barn and pasture, remove anything that could be an under-snow hazard to a loose horse. Fence off low areas where water collects. Inspect fences, and remove wire fences that can trap a hoof. • Create safe paths. Decide in advance which barn and pasture areas you’ll plow and where snow piles will go. Chart the safest paths between stalls and turnout areas. Consider using pea rock or wood chips to “pave” the paths to provide better traction in light to moderate snow conditions. • Stock up on traction aids. Keep a supply of shavings, old carpets, and sand on hand to spread on icy areas. • Limit sand and salt use. Use loose sand and salt for traction only on pathways, not in your horse’s turnout area. If your horse ingests sand and salt grains, he could suffer colic. • Increase turnout time. Allow your horse maximum turnout time to get used to footing changes.


Allow your horse maximum turnout time to get used to footing changes. • Check blanket fit. Make sure that your horse’s blanket fits properly and straps are snugly in their keepers. Remove any excess strap length. Your horse can catch a shoe heel (especially one with added traction) on a strap and become entangled. • Plow turnout. Consider plowing a small turnout area for your horse, if the area is accessible and the snow is deep. • Let pastern hair grow. Pastern hair protects the hoof head in winter. Keep a hairdryer handy to dry legs if scratches (a lower-limb infection caused by prolonged contact with dirt and moisture) becomes a problem. — Fran Jurga


Sign Up for AutoRenew USRider created the AutoRenew feature to simplify bill-paying for its Members. When a Member’s renewal becomes more than 30 days delinquent, a $29 fee is assessed to reactivate the membership. With the AutoRenew feature, the membership is automatically renewed each year on the credit card the Member has placed on file with USRider. USRider sends a notification to a Member 30 days prior to the expiration date advising the Member that his or her account will 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 charged 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 you’ve placed on file. Visit, and click on the Members Area. USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion



With USRider’s AutoRenew feature, your membership will be automatically renewed every year using the credit card you’ve placed on file. Winter 2022

------------ SKILLSET------------

3 Steps to Safe Winter Hauling

Haul your horse all winter long with this expert three-step strategy. By Rebecca Gimenez Husted Photos By

You can haul your horse all year long, even in the dead of winter, as long as you do so safely. Find traction. Park so that your trailer’s ramp is positioned on the best traction you can find. Dirt is preferred, but snow is better than ice or asphalt. Clean your trailer. Clean the inside of your trailer. Frozen urine and manure are slippery. If your horse falls, he could suffer a serious injury or even death.

You can haul your horse all year long, even in the dead of winter, as long as you do so safely. Here’s a three-step strategy to safe winter hauling.

Step 1: Trailer-Load Safely Wear good boots. Slipping, falling, or breaking a limb is really a downer on your planned trip. Find goodquality boots that will keep your feet warm, protect your feet, and provide good traction. Train your horse. Prior preparation and good training are important to make sure your horse is a good loader; if he rushes in or out, he can easily slip. Create an inviting environment. The more inviting you make the trailer’s interior, the more likely your horse will feel confident enough to step in. Put fresh hay in the bags and a little grain in the manger. Open the doors and windows, so there’s plenty of light. Lay in supplies. Keep a rubber broom, a snow shovel, sand, shavings, and salt in your trailer or tow vehicle. Use these tools to clear snow and ice from the area around your trailer and to add traction. USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion

Step 2: Keep Your Horse Comfortable Provide good-quality hay. Even in really cold weather, horses create more heat than you think they do. The best way to keep your horse warm in the trailer is to provide good-quality hay. Watch over-blanketing. It’s easy to over-blanket your horse. Most trailers are poorly ventilated, so they tend to get very warm with body heat, even in belowfreezing temperatures. A light sheet or blanket is sufficient for most horses. Apply leg protection. Apply leg protection, such as polo wraps or shipping boots. In winter, it’s especially important to protect your horse’s precious lower legs from slips and kicks.


Winter 2022


Go as slow as you need to. Run your hazard lights, if necessary. Let the rest of the traffic go around you; your priority is your safety, and that of your horse and your passengers. Increase ventilation. Humidity and condensation buildup from your horse’s breath can cause respiratory illness. Improve the indirect ventilation in your trailer to counteract this risk. Avoid drafts. As you increase ventilation, make sure that there are no direct drafts hitting your horse, especially on his face and eyes. Freezing-cold temperatures with wind can result in damaged corneas from frostbite. Monitor your horse. On the road, check your horse frequently. If there’s sweat under the blanket, he’s cooking inside. If he’s clipped and lacks natural insulation, carefully monitor him for sweat or shivering.

Step 3: Drive Carefully Recruit an assistant driver. An assistant driver watches road conditions, unusual events, and environmental conditions that could create a problem. This person also does all navigation, is the ground guide for backing and tight spots, checks on the horses from the in-cab camera, and

handles important mobile-phone calls. Learn to back up. Backing up a rig is particularly challenging in snow. Not only are the roads slick, but also the snow covers up landmarks you might rely on for guidance. Learn to back your trailer when the weather is nice. In poor conditions, set up your rig so that you have maximum backing room. Use a ground guide to make sure you don’t hit something or go off course. Turn on all lights. Keep on the appropriate lights of your tow vehicle and trailer at all times, day and night. Stay right. If you’re moving slower than the traffic around you, turn on your flashers, and move into the right lane. Take it slow. Go as slow as you need to. Run your hazard lights, if necessary. Let the rest of the traffic go around you; your priority is your safety, and that of your horse and your passengers. Stay calm. Driving a trailer is no place for road rage or frustration to set in. In challenging

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circumstances, stay calm, take your time, and breathe. Pay attention. Pay attention to the road at all times. No texting. No talking on your phone. No yelling at the kids. Allow room to brake. Leave enough room between you and the vehicle in front of you to account for much longer braking distances than normal. Watch for black ice. In poor driving conditions, allow 8, 10, 12 seconds or longer to come to a complete stop. Add one second per factor of driving difficulty. Factors include poor lighting conditions, inclement weather, an adverse traffic mix, and driver condition (such as fatigue). Drive defensively. Plowed snow can make normal roads and driveways very narrow. Take the time to allow other vehicles to pass, and set up for turns and backups ahead of time. Avoid a skid. If you must brake hard, do so as calmly and smoothly as possible, using your trailer’s brakes to assist you. If you start to skid or slide, ease off the brakes immediately, and steer into the direction of the skid to regain control. This maneuver is counterintuitive, so practice it in an open parking lot (with permission) or at a driving school in good weather before you tackle slippery winter conditions. Rebecca Gimenez Husted, PhD (animal physiology), is president and a primary instructor for Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. A Major in the United States Army Reserve, she’s a decorated Iraq War veteran and a past Logistics Officer for the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Veterinary Medical Assistance Team. She’s an invited lecturer on animal-rescue topics around the world and a noted equine journalist. Winter 2022


Easy Trailer-Loading Fix

When you approach your trailer, your horse needs to know right away that you mean business.

Load your horse every time you ask with these steps from top trainer/clinician Julie Goodnight. By Julie Goodnight with Heidi Melocco Photos by Heidi Melocco USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion


ave you ever had trouble loading your horse into your trailer—even when he’s loaded successfully in his past? There’s a chance you may have unknowingly contributed to his trailering issues. “It’s easy to train your horse to resist trailer-loading,” notes top trainer/clinician Julie Goodnight. “Chances are, you may not even realize how you’re contributing to his behavior. It can take years to train a horse to do the right thing, but only moments to ‘un-train’ him.” Here, Goodnight will help you examine the innocent mistakes you might be making. Then she’ll show you how to squelch a behavior problem before it escalates. She’ll also give you three things to avoid. >>


Winter 2022

Before each training session, outfit your horse in a rope training halter for control, as Julie Goodnight shows here. Switch to a gentler flat halter for trailering.

Before You Begin Wear sturdy boots and leather gloves, for safety. Outfit your horse in a rope training halter for control. (Switch to a gentler flat halter for trailering.) Find a quiet place with good footing. Consider backing up your trailer to the barn, close to the fence, so that your horse’s options are limited and the only way to go seems to be into your trailer. Avoid wide-open spaces that might encourage him think about freedom instead of stepping forward onto your trailer.

Step 1. Perform Ground Work Begin with ground work. How well your horse handles from the ground will impact how well you can handle him in a difficult trailerloading situation. If your horse suddenly decides he doesn’t want to get into your trailer, you need to know that you have fundamental handling skills intact. If he doesn’t normally

Left: As you load your horse, point his nose straight ahead. Don’t allow him to look from side to side. Right: Once he knows he must go forward, he will see his only option is to step inside your trailer.

have good ground manners (for instance, he pulls back, balks, drags you to the grass, and doesn’t stay in step with you), work on instilling those manners before you work on trailer-loading. Make sure your horse will stand still on command. A horse that will stand still on your authority has decided he must abide by rules of behavior. He’s respectful. If he won’t stand still, work on that skill first.

Step 2. Correct Unacceptable Behavior

Does your horse look away from the path you choose? Do you allow him to look away without correcting him? Does he walk in front of you or look where he wants? These are all signs that your horse isn’t paying attention to you. He thinks he can look and go wherever he wants. Address those small acts of disobedience away from your trailer—and before the lookingaway behavior leads to a turnand-bolt. Once he learns he can

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get away from you, it can’t be unlearned. If your horse has learned to get away from you or turn his nose to the side to go where he wants, he may display these behaviors when trying to avoid something he doesn’t want to do, such as approaching your trailer. If your horse displays the turnand-bolt behavior when you’re trailer-loading, examine your leading techniques and his behaviors when you’re working away from your trailer. The first time your horse ripped the rope out of your hand and got away, it may have been an accident. But then he thinks, Wow, I got free. It’s a terrible thing for a horse to learn, because he’ll forever know that he can overpower you. You can dissuade the behavior and remind him not to do that, but he’ll always remember that it’s possible. By not correcting your horse and allowing him to look away, the behavior escalated to getting >> Winter 2022

away. Once he got away, that was a reward for him. You trained him to pull away and be rewarded. To fix this behavior, establish a solid relationship from the ground. He’ll remember that you’re in charge when you approach your trailer. Caveat: If your horse has escalated his behavior and knows how to get away, you may need to enlist the help of a knowledgeable horse friend or qualified trainer to help you work through the trailer-training process.

Step 3. Be Confident and Aware Your horse will always turn away from what he doesn’t like and toward what he does like. Watch his ears to see what he’s “pointing” at. Horses are also keen on your determination and intention level, so pay attention to your own attitude and body language. Here’s how to be confident and aware. Be confident. When you approach your trailer with your horse, there should be no doubt in his mind that he’s going in. Be a confident leader. Conduct yourself in a way that tells your horse you both are walking straight in your trailer. Catch the look-away. If your horse doesn’t want to load up, he’ll tense and look away long before he’s close to your trailer. Determine the exact moment when he sees your trailer and realizes that’s where he’s going. If you don’t notice that small glance away, your horse may look right and left to plan his evacuation route. Correct him the second he looks away, before he escalates his plan and balks, turns, or even bolts. Keep his nose straight. When you approach your trailer, keep your horse’s nose pointed straight

Avoid circling. When you circle back around, your horse learns that he can get his way—if only for a moment. ahead. If he even tips his nose to the side, bump the rope to correct him. Out of the corner of your eye, watch his eyes to see whether he’s even thinking of moving back.

Step 4. Avoid Circling If your horse is “experienced” in throwing tantrums before trailer-loading, he may learn that if he does turn his head, balk, or even wind up completely out of position, you’ll circle him and approach your trailer again. Never circle your horse when trailer-loading. It’s a fatal mistake. If you turn him around and allow him to face the direction he wanted to go, he’s gotten his own way for a few steps. You may think you need to get a better approach by circling back and starting again. But your horse only associates his behavior with what happens within three seconds after he acts. He wanted to turn away and he got the reward of stepping in the direction he wanted. You’ve unknowingly trained

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your horse to throw a tantrum by allowing him to turn away. Horses are more in the moment than we are. In the moment, your horse wanted to turn away, and you allowed it. Turning away reinforced the tantrum, so he’ll certainly do it again. If your horse throws a tantrum and gets out of position, let him figure out how to straighten up and get his feet in line without circling. Then follow the guidelines in Step 3.

Step 5. Stay Out of the Way Think about your position as you enter you trailer. Horses are trained not to invade your space, so avoid stepping up into the door of your trailer before asking your horse to step up. If he were to follow your request, he’d have to walk on top of you. If you’re stepping up into a long slant-load trailer, go in the door well ahead of your horse. Keep walking straight ahead, then step as close to the wall as possible to get out of his way. Show him there’s a path to move forward. >> Winter 2022

Stay out of your horse’s way as you load him. A horse that doesn’t want to load will take your placement as a reason not to move forward.

Step 6. Praise Your Horse

What Not To Do

If your horse has been known to balk at entering your trailer, approach, then ask him to stop before he enters. When he stops, praise him for listening and looking forward at your trailer. If he looks away, correct him to remind him he’ll be moving straight ahead. When he looks at your trailer, praise him. When you stop, your horse will show you what he’s thinking about. You’ll have an opportunity to praise him for looking forward and looking at your trailer. Stopping your horse also keeps your horse in a compliant mindset—he’s being praised for moving and stopping on command. It keeps him interested in moving forward and discourages him from thinking about an escape. Your praise instills confidence in your horse. You’ll have an opportunity to maintain obedience. Plus, you’ll encourage his forward interest and his investigative behavior.

Here are three things to avoid when loading your horse into your trailer. Don’t train your horse on the road. Don’t fight with your horse because you need to get on the road right away. If you’re in a hurry, you may be tempted to resort to different and inconsistent tactics to get him loaded. Instead, schedule plenty of time (days and weeks) for trailer-loading practice sessions. Let your horse know he’s going in your trailer; there’s no time constraint. Don’t use a rope or whip. Teach your horse the right response rather than trying to force him into your trailer. To do this, your horse has to be thinking about moving forward. Therefore, avoid touching him with anything from behind, including a rope or whip. As soon as you touch him from behind, his attention is immediately transferred to his hindquarters. Using a rope or whip could also scare him; a fearful horse isn’t going to learn what you’re trying to teach him.

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Teach your horse that he should move freely forward. Let him know that you want him to think through the problem and learn that the easy answer is to go forward. If he needs extra encouragement, enlist a helper to snap a training flag. This technique applies mental pressure that tells him backward isn’t the direction to go. The noise helps your horse associate quiet and easy with forward movement and an unpleasant sound with thoughts of backing up. You’re not physically touching him or applying constant pressure. Don’t trailer-load alone. If possible, ask a traveling buddy to go with you to help you load your horse. After your horse walks into your trailer, your buddy can snap on the butt bar, close the doors, and help you tie your horse, all in the correct order. Be sure to close the back door before you tie your horse for safety. You don’t want your horse to learn that if you’re alone, he has time to back up before the butt bar is snapped and the door closed. 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 lifelong horsewoman, equine journalist, and photographer based in Mead, Colorado. Winter 2022


Winter-Management Checklist By Jessica Jahiel, PhD | Photos by

Horses are designed to heat themselves through the digestion of forage (hay or pasture) in the hindgut. A plentiful supply of good hay is your horse’s best defense against cold.


ven if you scale back your riding time during winter months, or even give your horse the winter off, you need to promote his health in every way possible. Your basic horse-care routine won’t change significantly in the winter. You’ll need to keep up your horse’s medications (if any),

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hoof care, grooming, and regular veterinary checks. Your horse’s basic nutrition requirements also won’t change; he’ll need adequate water, forage, supplements, warmth, and exercise. The only changes will be his winter-specific risks and your risk-avoidance strategies. Winter 2022


Here’s a winter-management checklist to help your horse stay healthy and colic-free.

colic, founder, and ulcers associated with incorrectly feeding grain.



■ Analyze your hay. Have your hay analyzed so you’ll know whether your horse’s nutritional needs are being met. If it’s lacking in specific nutrients, ask your veterinarian to advise you about adding a supplement to your horse’s diet. ■ Schedule dental work. Have any necessary dental work done before winter hits, so that your horse will get the maximum benefit from his hay this winter.

■ Encourage sufficient intake. Your horse needs clean water and plenty of it. If he lacks sufficient water to digest his feed, he’ll be at risk for colic (abdominal pain that can indicate a life-threatening condition), the leading killer of horses. His 10- to 12-gallon daily requirement may be higher in winter, because he’ll be relying on hay and perhaps grain, both of which have very low moisture content (10 to 15 percent moisture) compared with fresh pasture grass (60 to 80 percent moisture). ■ Monitor temperature. Offer your horse water between 45 degrees and 65 degrees Fahrenheit, which will encourage him to drink enough water to stay hydrated. If he needs further encouragement, add warm water to his feed (such as hay cubes/pellets, pelleted feed, and beet pulp) to create a slurry. To keep ice at bay, invest in a water heater, tank de-icer, or heated water bucket. ■ Use rubber buckets. When plastic water buckets freeze, they can be hard to empty; some crack when slammed against the floor or frozen ground as you knock ice loose. Heavy, black rubber buckets are much better at taking the abuse associated with daily ice removal. ■ Check for dehydration. Signs of equine dehydration are dry gums and teeth, lethargy, and dry, hard manure. Test with capillary-refill time; the skin-pinch test doesn’t work well through winter hair. Use your thumb to put pressure

Have your hay analyzed so you’ll know whether your horse’s nutritional needs are being met. ■ Feed for warmth. If your horse has a dense coat and is turned out with free-choice hay, his internal heater will work around the clock. Horses are designed to heat themselves through the digestion of forage (hay or pasture) in the hindgut. A plentiful supply of good hay is your horse’s best defense against cold; it’s also your best way to help him avoid

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Your horse needs clean water and plenty of it. If he lacks sufficient water to digest his feed, he’ll be at risk for colic, the leading killer of horses. on your horse’s gum, when it turns white, take your thumb away and count the seconds until the gum turns pink again. If the change takes more than two seconds, dehydration is a concern.

Supplements ■ Supplement with care. Select your supplements on the basis of hay analysis; give your horse only what he needs and your hay lacks. Good hay provides adequate protein and high fiber, which produces heat from digestion. ■ Offer plenty of salt. Salt is an essential element of your horse’s diet year-round. It’s not overkill to have a salt block (or loose salt formulated for horses) in his stall, run-in shed, and pasture or dry lot. ■ Check his weight. Horses can lose weight very quickly. In very cold weather, inadequately fed horses will burn their stored fat. Next, if their ration remains inadequate, they’ll begin to burn >> Winter 2022

a higher protein content. Grain adds very little warmth; fat adds calories, but not warmth. ■ Consult your vet. If your horse is still losing weight, consult your veterinarian about adding a small amount of grain to your horse’s diet, then add in grain carefully and gradually.

Exercise ■ Offer daily exercise. Regular exercise will help decrease your horse’s colic risk. Fulltime turnout will allow him free movement day and night. However, sometimes, only daytime turnSalt is an essential element of your horse’s diet year-round. It’s not overkill to have a salt block (or loose salt formulated for horses) in his stall, and one in his paddock or pasture, run-in shed, and dry lot. protein from their muscles. Check your horse’s weight every day to protect him from unseen weight loss, using the Henneke Body Condition Scoring System. Remove his blanket, if you use one. Reaching under his winter coat, firmly check his withers, back, hips, and ribs. Learn his normal, healthy contours. ■ Watch the weather. Unusual cold can lead to unexpected weight loss. If extra-cold weather is on the way, increase your horse’s forage. Tip: Use a smallhole hay net for extra hay rations. This not only will keep the hay off the ground, but also will encourage your horse to eat small amounts safely and continuously as nature designed him to do. ■ Maintain his weight wisely. If your horse loses weight, try increasing his hay ration, or feed him a leafier type of hay that has

Regular exercise will help decrease your horse’s colic risk. Fulltime turnout will allow him free movement day and night. out is possible. And icy footing makes any turnout impossible. In that case, hand-walking is better than nothing. If necessary, lay down used bedding to create a walking path.

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Warmth ■ Watch for shivering. If your horse is shivering, he’s not just cold, he’s too cold. Under normal circumstances, if he’s fit and in good condition, he shouldn’t be shivering. Bring him into a shelter (out of wind, rain, and snow), blanket him, and call your veterinarian immediately. ■ Know blanketing risks. Blankets can rub, restrict movement, and cause horses to become both overheated and chilled. Protecting your horse is one thing; holding in moisture from sweat is quite another. A horse that sweats under his blanket on a sunny day can become overheated and dehydrated; since he’s wet, he can also become extremely cold during the night. ■ Know when to blanket. Some horses need a blanket. Blanket your clipped horse, as well as your very old, young, or thin horse. Also blanket your horse if you move him from a warm zone to a cold zone midwinter, as he’ll lack his natural winter coat. ■ Practice safe blanketing. If you use a blanket, remove it every morning. Brush off the blanket, and groom your horse. Check his body condition and for any signs of blanket rub. Re-blanket him at suppertime. USR Jessica Jahiel, PhD, is an internationally-recognized clinician and lecturer, and award-winning author of books, articles, and columns about horses, riding, teaching, and training. Her trademarked system of teaching and training, Holistic Horsemanship®, is based on establishing and enhancing communication and trust between horse and rider. Winter 2022

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------------ HAULING HINTS------------

6 Pearls of Wisdom


Make sure your trailer and tow vehicle are ready for the road with these pearls of trailering wisdom. First pearl: If you hear a “clunk” or unusual sound, always pull over and check it out.

Here are six pearls of wisdom to add to your trailering-knowledge treasure chest. For each one, we give you the true story behind it and the recommended fix. TOM SCHEVE AND NEVA KITTRELL SCHEVE USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion


>> Winter 2022


e’ve given many tips to help horsepeople stay safe when hauling a trailer. But sometimes, odd things happen that don’t fall within the normal scope of things. The following six pearls of wisdom contain hard-learned information that resulted from real-life experiences. For each one, we give you the true story behind it and the recommended fix.

Pearl #2: Carry a couple of extra ball mounts with various “drops,” or one adjustable ball mount, making sure that the ball size is the same as your coupler.

Pearl #1: If you hear a “clunk” or unusual sound, always pull over and check it out. True story: Once, we inspected our trailer before heading out on the road with our horse. Of course, we checked all the items on our checklist, including the coupler (making sure it was secure on the ball), the pin (making sure it was properly inserted into the ball mount), and the breakaway brake cable (making sure PHOTO BY HEIDI MELOCCO it was secured). Everything looked fine. As you hitch up your trailer, check to make sure the ball After driving a few miles, we slowed at a stop sign mount is secured by attempting to pull out the mount after and heard a “clunk.” It sounded like a small stone had you insert the pin. hit the car, and we felt a slight vibration through the truck. The temptation was to pass it off as nothing True story: A horse owner named Judy was hauling and to keep going to our destination, but we decided her horse when her truck broke down. She called a we’d better check it out. friend to pick up her trailer. The friend arrived with We pulled over and inspected the hitch and coua four-wheel-drive truck that was set higher than pler. That’s when we saw that the nut that holds the Judy’s vehicle. To make matters worse, the truck had ball mount in place had come loose and had worked only a two-inch ball, which wouldn’t work with Judy’s its way to the bottom of the bolt. When we had slightly large coupler. They slid Judy’s ball mount into slowed, the trailer had pulled up the ball, which had the friend’s truck hitch, but then it was too high—the then settled back down, making the “clunk” sound. trailer wouldn’t jack up enough to reach the ball. Judy Had we not stopped, the trailer would’ve come off the had to call another friend to help. hitch. The fix: Carry an extra ball mount with a lower drop. The fix: If you’re on the road, keep your horse in the trailer, and leave the trailer hooked to the ball. TightPearl #3: When sliding your ball mount into en the ball nut securely. (Make sure the safety chains your hitch, not only check the nut holding the and emergency breakaway brake cable are attached ball, but also, after you insert the pin, pull on the to prevent the trailer from becoming loose while ball mount to make sure it doesn’t slide back out. you’re working on it.) True story: While we were getting ready to tow a Or, keep an extra ball mount and ball in the trailer. trailer to a customer, we checked the ball sizes on the For this fix, you’ll need a wrench that will fit the bolt coupler and ball mount, then slid the ball mount into on the ball (or an adjustable wrench) and a second the truck’s frame-mounted hitch. This hitch had two wrench that will hold the ball from turning while hole placements for the pin that held the ball mount you tighten the nut. You’ll also need what’s called a in place. This gave us the option of sliding the ball cheater bar— a tubular steel bar about two feet long mount farther into the tube or letting it extend out that will fit over the end of the wrench. This extends the back a bit more. The ball mount we were using the wrench handle, which gives you more leverage to had a rather short tubular insert. tighten the bolt securely. As soon as you can, have a After sliding it into the hitch, we inserted the pin mechanic make sure the nut is tight enough for future with no problem and hitched up the trailer. As we use. pulled out of the parking spot, we hit a little bump, >> USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion


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and the trailer disengaged from the truck! Fortunately, we’d connected the safety chains and there were no horses in the trailer. Here’s what had happened: The tubular shank didn’t go back far enough to reach the hole where we’d inserted the pin. We’d inserted the pin behind the shank, instead of through it. There was just enough pressure on the mount that it didn’t immediately disengage. However, it probably would’ve come out down the road. It was lucky we’d gone over the bump, which lightened the pressure just enough for the mount to slide out while we were still in the parking lot. The fix: As you hitch up your trailer, check to make sure the ball mount is secured by attempting to pull out the mount after you insert the pin.

got out to close it, she discovered that her horse had not only opened the door, but the long lead rope she was using as a trailer tie was hanging out and starting to wrap itself around the wheel. The poor horse was almost dragged up into the manger. The fix: If possible, install outside butterfly latches on all horse doors. Many tall, strong-looking doors are only held shut by a half-inch piece that’s part of the recessed door latch. An outer latch on the outside of the horse door will ensure that it doesn’t pop or get kicked open. Or, if your trailer has a deadbolt on the door latch, lock the deadbolt, but leave the key in the lock so that you can quickly open the door, if needed. The deadbolt will usually prevent the door from opening. Most body/fabrication shops can do this for you.

Pearl #4: After you’ve checked your trailer completely, stop at the end of your drive, get out, and check your horse and trailer one more time.

Pearl #5: Carry a variety of extra parts for your trailer and tow vehicle.


Make sure you have all the tools you need for any emergency that can happen on the road.


After you’ve checked your trailer completely, stop at the end of your drive, get out, and check your horse and trailer one more time. True story: A horse owner named Gayle wrote to us about an incident illuminating why this final check is important. After she’d loaded her horse, inspected her trailer, and drove to the end of her driveway, she noticed the trailer’s manger door was open. When she USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion

True story: Late one evening, we were coming back from a horse show with a trailer in tow when the engine suddenly quit. The power steering and brakes quit with it. Fortunately, there was still enough power to activate the trailer brakes so we could stop. The serpentine belt, which runs the alternator and fan, had broken. I called the American Automobile Association, known as AAA. (This was in pre-USRider Equestrian Motor Plan days.) The mechanic said that it was an easy fix and that he could do it quickly. However, he didn’t have the part—and it was after hours. We had to call a friend to pick us up and tow our trailer back to the barn. >>


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The fix: Make a list of all the problems you might encounter with your particular trailer and tow vehicle, and carry the spare parts that would help you solve the issue. Especially make sure you have a spare serpentine belt in your vehicle.

Pearl #6: Make sure you have all the tools you need for any emergency on the road. True story: We were traveling with a friend in a two-trailer caravan to a trade show some 390 miles away. We hooked up, checked everything over, and headed out. About 90 miles down the road, the trailer brakes started to lock up on our friend’s vehicle. We pulled off the exit, grabbed our toolbox, took out the wiring tester, and went to work on finding the cause. After 30 minutes, we still hadn’t fixed the problem The fix: Since the trailer was empty and it weighed only 3,400 pounds, we decided that the 2500 Dodge could easily handle the load without brakes. We checked the wiring diagram to isolate the brake wire.

USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion

Then we carefully cut into the plug cord, found the wire, and cut it to disconnect the current going to the brakes. We pulled the wire’s cut end out of the cord and wrapped it with electrical tape. We had it fixed the first chance we got. For this particular fix, you’ll need a razor blade knife with extra razor blades (they can break or dull quickly), an electrical tester, electrical tape, and a wiring diagram for your trailer. USR

Tom Scheve and Neva Kittrell Scheve are the authors of the nationally recognized textbook, The Complete Guide to Buying, Maintaining, and Servicing a Horse Trailer. Neva has also written two other horse-trailer books, including Equine Emergencies On The Road with Jim Hamilton, DVM. The Scheves present clinics at equine expos and promote trailer safety through articles in national magazines. They’ve designed and developed the EquiSpirit, EquiBreeze, and ThoroSport lines of trailers.


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------------ GETAWAYS ------------

10 Top Riding Destinations Seasoned equestrian travelers share their favorite places to camp and ride. Article and Photos by Kent & Charlene Krone

Deschutes National Forest, Oregon


e’ve had the good fortune to explore many regions of our country via horseback. We’ve seen incredible places, had fantastic adventures, and met many terrific people. Here, we share 10 of our favorite places to camp and ride. These aren’t arduous adventures; they are easy places to get to with your horse—and they offer wonderful camps and great trails. (Destinations are listed roughly from west to east for ease of planning.)

1. Kettle Crest Country, Washington Kettle Crest Country, located in the Colville National Forest in north-central Washington State, is home to 1.9 million acres of national forest land and more than 430 miles of trails. Camp at the U.S. Forest Service Jungle Hill Horse Campground and ride the fabulous Kettle Crest National Recreation Trail with views stretching across the mountains. For a bit of luxury, visit the K Diamond K Guest Ranch, located on the edge of the Kettle Crest country, just south of the town of Republic. The ranch will allow you to bring your own horse. The best time to ride in this area is from the end of May through October. >> USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion


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2. Deschutes National Forest, Oregon

3. Anza-Borrego State Park, California

4. M Lazy C Ranch, Colorado

In Deschutes National Forest, you can explore dormant volcanoes wrapped in snow, mountain lakes, and ancient lava flows. Deschutes National Forest in the Cascade Range near Bend, Oregon, provides fabulous riding. Explore dormant volcanoes wrapped in snow, mountain lakes, and ancient lava flows. You can access many popular trails from the Todd Creek Forest Service Horse Camp. One of our favorite trails in the area is to Todd Lake, then to the Upper Todd Trail #34. A ride to the Wickiup Plains brings you faceto-face with the 10,358-foot-elevation South Sister Mountain, an extinct volcano. A gorgeous, over-the-top ride is to Green Lakes, where you’ll enjoy views of Broken Top, South Sister, and the evergreen-lined Green Lakes. Ride the short distance to Upper Green Lake for a great picnic spot. The best time to ride in this area is May to October; check weather in advance.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is known for its rugged canyons, lofty mountains, and wild, undisturbed open country. In Southern California, a 600,000-acre desert gem awaits exploration by enthusiastic horsemen. Located east of San Diego, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park offers 1,000 square miles of wilderness known for its rugged canyons, lofty mountains, and wild, undisturbed open country. The wilderness portions encompass more than 110 miles of riding trails. You can camp with your horse at Stagecoach Trails Horse Camp & RV, which offers corrals, arenas, a wash rack, and direct access to state park trails. The best riding season is October to June; summers can be stifling hot.

You’re welcome to bring your own horse to M Lazy C Ranch, which offers equestrian travelers living-quarters-trailer sites, horse pens, and other amenities. Not far from Colorado Springs is the M Lazy C Ranch, a guest ranch that also offers equestrian travelers living-quarters-trailer sites, horse pens, picnic tables, and fire pits. Cozy log cabins are also available. The ranch is surrounded by Pike National Forest, which features thousands of acres of trails guaranteed to satisfy a wide range of riders. Trails range from easy to difficult in open or forested country. On one journey, we rode to a hilltop where we caught a distant view of the famed Pike’s Peak, which rises 14,115 feet above sea level. The best time to ride in this area is late May to October; check weather in advance. >>

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5. Gila National Forest, New Mexico

6. Caprock Canyons State Park and Trailway, Texas

7. Robbers Cave State Park, Oklahoma

Caprock Canyons State Park offers some serious trail-riding opportunities, but watch for rattlesnakes and falling rocks.

Gila National Forest features miles of trails in four life zones. Here, Kent Krone rides Cowboy across the West Fork of the Gila River. Gila National Forest features more than1,400 miles of trails, ancient cliff dwellings, hot springs, streams, and lakes. This national forest is located about 45 miles north of Silver City; note that the last five miles is down a winding, very steep road. You’ll find free horse camping at Woody’s Corral, located at the trailhead for Trail #160, near the Gila Cliff Dwellings. Elevation ranges from 4,200 to 10,900 feet and covers four of the six life zones (habitats); you’ll find a variety of terrain and wildlife. The best time to ride in this area is May through November.

Caprock Canyons State Park and Trailway is located in northern Texas, about 3.5 miles north of Quitaque on FM 1065. Consisting of 15,314 acres, this park— where bison roam—offers some serious trail-riding opportunities. The visitor center has superlative trail maps. Take plenty of water, and keep an eye out for rattlesnakes and falling rocks. The park’s Wild Horse camping area has everything an equestrian camper needs, except for electricity. More than 175 bird species live here, providing visual treats and exotic melodies. We rode right from camp and created our own loops and rides using a trail map. Early spring and late fall are usually the best times to ride. We rode here in late April, and temperatures were already soaring in the 90s.

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Fall is the best time to ride and camp in Robbers Cave State Park. Shown is the Krones’ fall camp. Robbers Cave State Park is located in the beautiful San Bois Mountains, five miles north of Wilburton. This upscale state park has a well-designed equestrian campground, cabins, and a spacious lodge. It’s believed that at one time outlaws hid stolen cattle in the rock formations. The park’s fascinating history adds a layer of fun to this wonderland region dotted with giant boulders. Adjoining the state park is the Robbers Cave Wildlife Management Area. Together, these two areas offer about 60 miles of riding trails. We rode the Dogwood and Big John trails, which feature a kaleidoscope of color in the fall—the best time to visit. >> >> Winter 2022

8. Brushy Creek Lodge and Resort, Missouri

9. Custer State Park, South Dakota

10. Little Missouri State Park, North Dakota

Little Missouri State Park is a delightful area to explore with your equine partner. Shown is Kent Krone aboard Buddy.

The campground at Brushy Creek Lodge and Resort in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains. Brushy Creek Lodge and Resort is located in the eastern Ozark Mountains, in the heart of the Mark Twain National Forest. This tidy, picturesque lodge has much to offer horsemen, including an excellent lodge and restaurant, cabins, a lovely RV/camping area, horsemanship clinics, organized rides, and endless trails to explore on your own. A favorite local trek is the 6½-hour round-trip ride to Sutton Bluff. The lodge is open year-round; organized trail rides are offered in the spring and fall.

At Custer State Park, you’ll ride meandering trails through gentle mountains. Shown is Charlene Krone riding Scout out of the French Creek Horse Camp. Miles of meandering trails, winding through gentle mountains splashed with evergreens and deciduous trees, are yours to enjoy in Custer State Park, located in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Riders may ride cross-country or on trails. Only a few clearly marked areas are closed to horses. Wandering bison, elk, and deer are commonplace. French Creek Horse Camp is an excellent base camp. You’ll find 26 campsites, each with its own corresponding corral. Four trails lead out from camp. The best time to visit is October through April.

USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion


Located in western North Dakota, Little Missouri State Park is a trail rider’s paradise. Wind, water, and sand have sculpted this rugged Badlands area into a work of art that’s delightful to explore with your equine partner. Top-notch equine/camping facilities feature corrals, electrical hookups, and picnic shelters. Most sites have terrific views over the canyon edge into the contorted Badlands below. Trails vary in degree of difficulty and steepness; they’re rated accordingly on a color-coded trail map. The park is open from May to October. 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.

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------------ USRIDERMEMBERSTORY------------

This Old Rig

This young eventer stays on the show circuit with a 22-year-old tow vehicle thanks to USRider. By Katrina and David Muga 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.


t 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 USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion

ignition switch, but these were checked and seemed to be okay. He never imagined that the newly installed starter motor might be the culprit.

Crisis! 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 jeopardy. 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 >>


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“A few weeks before a summer weekend eventing rally, there were some indications of trouble,” says Katrina Muga of her tow vehicle, 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!” 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. USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion

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.

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


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Equestrian Gifts

Last-minute stocking stuffers for the equestrian on your list.

Holiday Horse Cookies 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. Specify the one-dozen holiday stocking or the 2½-dozen holiday stocking.

Leg-Care Kit

Endurance-Rider Decals

The Carr & Day & Martin Horse MF Pro Kit, available from Toklat Originals, helps remedy painful sores and scabs on a horse’s legs and heels that can result from exposure to wet, muddy conditions. This contains a unique three-step system designed to cleanse, relieve, and protect vulnerable areas. A comprehensive instruction booklet is included.

For the endurance rider in your life, these eye-catching decals from Caution Horses Safety Products™ enhance safety on the road. Made from engineer-grade reflective vinyl, these decals can be applied to a truck or trailer for daytime and nighttime visibility.

Barn Blade The HoofPrints Barn Blade, made from anodized aluminum and sporting the wise words, “Never ride faster than your guardian angel can fly,” is just what a horsewoman needs on the road and in the barn. The stainless-steel blade has an easy-open knurled grip. The notch has a protected second blade for cutting hay strings in a jiffy.

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------------ USRIDERBENEFITS------------

USRider Member Benefits Trailer Accessories As a USRider Member, you can enjoy money-saving discounts through Winner’s Circle Advantage. You may access these benefits directly through the Members Area of the USRider website, as well as through the brochure enclosed in membership kits and renewal mailings. (Look for the access codes to

all Winner’s Circle Advantage Partners.) With so many discounts, you can easily save the cost of your annual membership fee, and more! This issue, we spotlight Trailer Accessories. For more information on each of these companies, and for more Member discounts, click here.

DuraSafe DuraSafe’s innovative Coupler Connect plus Protect eliminates the problems associated with hitching up your trailer. The product aligns the coupler directly over the tow ball providing an easy hookup every time. The Coupler Connect also comes with a guard to keep your trailer connected and protected. The product installs in minutes and can be used as a wheel chock. USRider Members receive a 10% discount on all DuraSafe products.

HayRak™ The HayRak, from Spirit Industries Inc., allows you to easily transport everything you need for your equestrian travels. This all-aluminum, modular, top-mounting system features an adjustable design that fits virtually every make of horse trailer. Transport hay, generators, water tanks, or whatever you need for your trip. The system is designed to transfer the weight-bearing load to your trailer’s side walls instead of the trailer roof. Every HayRak comes standard with a tilt-out ladder. USRider Members receive a 5% discount on the HayRak, as well as on the company’s newest product option, the HayRak HayPod™, designed to cover your load.

The Organized Barn & Trailer® Stop stumbling over the tack and buckets on your trailer’s dressing-room floor. The Trailer Dressing Room Kit, created by The Organized Barn & Trailer, helps you get everything off your trailer floor and into a wall-mounted storage system. Hang several panels on the dressing-room walls or door with the wall supports’ mounting brackets, then add baskets, shelves, hooks, and hangers as needed. The large wire bin is excellent for storing bulky items, such as lawn chairs, blankets, table canopies, and tire jacks. A Tack Stall Kit is also available. USRider Members receive a 5% discount.

Swift Hitch Swift Hitch is the original wireless portable back-up camera system designed to assist with hitching up your horse trailer. It can also be used to watch your horse in the trailer. Since 2006, the Swift Hitch’s portability, reverse-imaging, and night-vision capabilities have made this innovative product a valued tool. Swift Hitch’s SH02 wireless system was the 2012 North America Trailer Dealer Association New Product of the Year; the product has now been upgraded to non-interference digital version SH02D. USRider Members receive $20 off all Swift Hitch products, plus free shipping, with a purchase of $50 or more. USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion


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Peace of Mind WITH EVERY MEMBERSHIP 24/7 Nationwide Roadside Assistance for You and Your Horse

Benefits includes: • • • • • •

Up to 100 miles of towing Emergency stabling assistance Emergency veterinarian referrals Emergency farrier referrals Coverage in any vehicle Service on dual-wheeled vehicles and horse trailers • Discounts on tack, travel, accessories and more!


WWW.USRIDER.ORG (800) 844-1409

Administered by Nation Motor Club Inc., DBA Nation Safe Drivers


7 Barn Hazards In the winter, it’s likely your horse will be spending more time indoors than he does in warmer months. Is your barn safe for your horse? Inspect it with this checklist of potential hazards in hand. If you spot a hazard, fix it right away.

you can do: Store hay away from your horse, preferably in a separate, well-ventilated building. Keep hay on pallets to keep it safe from ground moisture. Stack bales on their sides, and leave spaces between bales to promote air circulation, which ■ Sharp protrusions in stalls. helps keep the bales dry. If you Sharp protrusions—such as don’t have a separate building, nails, splinters, or sharp edges make a “floor” with pallets, on a broken plastic manger—can stack the hay, and cover just the scrape, puncture, or lacerate top two-thirds of the stack with your horse. Your horse’s eyes tarps so air will circulate. are particularly at risk, because ■ Electrical wiring and cords. they’re so large and prominent. An exposed electrical cord can What you can do: Visually scan electrocute your horse or cause stall walls, then run your hands a barn fire. What you can do: over all surfaces, including feedEnclose your permanent wirers, waterers, and feed buckets ing in PVC conduit. (Stay away to detect rough or sharp areas. from metal conduit—your barn’s Check the walls and ceiling. Rehumidity will lead to corromove splinters, and replace any sion, which increases the risk of broken boards. Replace broken electrical-system failure, which mangers and waterers. If you can cause a fire or electrocute find sharp nails, pull them out or your horse.) Use extension cords whack them in. only when absolutely necessary, ■ Unsecured feed. Rodents and and then use only heavy-duty birds can contaminate feed with models designed for outdoor urine and feces, which can make use. Be careful with fans and your horse ill. Mice might also water heaters, and use conduit chew on the insulation around to protect these cords, too. Avoid any accessible wiring, which can heat lamps, which can start a cause a barn fire. What you can fire. Don’t overload your circuits. do: Keep pellets and grain inside Use as few electric appliances as heavy metal containers; rodents possible, and disconnect those and equines can chew through not in use. even the strongest plastic. Look ■ Uncovered stall lights. If your for secure, locking lids. horse rears in a stall with an ■ Improper hay and bedding unprotected light, he could come storage. Hay and bedding dust down in a shower of glass. What interfere with your horse’s you can do: Cover overhead lights breathing and can harm his in wire or metal mesh cages. respiratory system. Hay and bedConsider using only plastic-coatding are also fire hazards. What ed safety bulbs. Check that the

USRider® Equestrian Traveler’s Companion


Is your barn safe for your horse? Inspect it with this checklist of potential hazards in hand.

bulbs are the correct wattage. ■ Cobwebs and dust. Cobwebs are dangerous because they’re flammable, and they trap dust, bits of hay/straw, and particles of bedding—more fire hazards. What you can do: Add dusting and cobweb removal to your daily barn-cleaning routine. A long-handled feather duster is ideal for dusting light fixtures; a light broom is useful for stall grilles, walls, and corners. ■ Fuel and chemicals. Many products you use in and around your barn are toxic to your horse if ingested; they can also damage his respiratory system if they mix with the air inside your barn. “Fuel” refers to gasoline, kerosene, oil, and gas-and-oil mixes used in motorized equipment. “Chemicals” include fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, and paint. What you can do: Correctly store fuel and chemicals. Store combustible materials at least 50 feet from your barn. When you spruce up your barn’s interior, use fire-retardant latex paint. — Jessica Jahiel, PhD

Winter 2022

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