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HAUL SAFE & HEALTHY A veterinarian shares the latest thinking on keeping horses healthy when trailering

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BY STACIE G. BOSWELL, DVM, DACVS

Health consequences of trailering your horse can range from mild to extreme. A research group in Australia in 2016 identified the most common problems in trailering. Of the horses with problems, traumatic injuries (45%), gastrointestinal problems (including diarrhea and colic, 30%), muscular problems (13%), respiratory problems (12%), and overheating (10%) occurred. When the numbers are added up, it is clear that some horses had more than one problem. Behaviorally, the horse is stressed during trailering because his main defense – flight – has been completely taken from him. This stress may weaken his immune system at the same time he is exposed to new horses and the viruses they may be carrying. Here are some suggestions for traveling with safety and good health.

Trailer inspections

Loose or weak floor boards, a malfunctioning braking system, or a tire blowout can result in a disaster while shipping horses. Before every trip, the trailer coupler should be triple-checked that it is properly engaged, that the lights and brakes are plugged in, and that the emergency brake battery is charged and connected properly. The truck and trailer ball or coupling should be properly size matched. An annual trailer inspection should include evaluating the floor, the wheel bearings (and packing if needed), the brakes and emergency brake box, and all hardware and latches. Unexpected mechanical issues can occur, but regular inspection and caution will prevent many problems.

30 HORSE AROUND | Fe b /Ma r 2 0 1 7 | w w w . h o r s e a r o u n d n m . c o m

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