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“Despite ventilation and flowthrough wind, horses require additional attention when being hauled in trailers.” 

Even when horses are hauled short distances, blistering summer heat of the summer can cause health hazards, said Dr. Lynsey Whitacre. 

Horses on the average drink six to 10-gallons of water daily. “That amount increases dramatically when a horse is working or being hauled,” stated the BioZyme Corporation equine specialist. 

Whitacre suggested offering water to the horse any time the trailer stops. “A filled water bucket can be hung in the trailer, but don’t be surprised if they don’t drink much while moving,” she said. 

For horses that don’t like “strange water,” Whitacre recommended that owners bring their own home water along. “Or, add a Gatorade powder packet to their water bucket before traveling to get them used to the taste,” she recommended. “Then, use the powder to disguise water at the destination.” 

A horse’s thermoneutral zone is generally between 40-80 degrees Fahrenheit. “Prolonged temperatures above that range can start to trigger heat stress, which can cause horses to go off feed,” Whitacre said. 

Prebiotics or probiotics added to feed can help the horse stay healthy while hauling. 

“Try to provide as much forage as possible,” Whitacre suggested. “That helps keep the gut healthy and active.”   

Windows and vents of the trailer need to open when moving. “If you have to stop often due to traffic jams or construction, your horse will heat up quickly,” Whitacre said. “Thus, try to avoid routes that require stop-and-go traffic, which is hard enough on horses without the sun beating down.” 

“Horses shift their weight frequently while in the trailer, which can expend as much energy as walking,” Petty said. “You want to try to give your horse as comfortable a ride as possible, especially in hot weather conditions.” 

After arriving at a destination, the horse still might have overheated stress. “It might need time to recover from the trip as it adjusts to the new environment, which could be hotter than it’s used to,” Whitacre said.  

If a horse is sweating excessively or has stopped sweating altogether, it’s likely suffering from heat exhaustion, the specialist explained.  

Signs of heat stress include weakness, stumbling, and increased respiratory rate of more than 32-breaths per minute. “When there is increased rectal temperature higher than 102-degrees Fahrenheit that constitutes an emergency,” she added. “ 

The horse can be cooled by offering water in small amounts. “You can also try hosing them with cool water, starting at the legs and working up to the neck, then over the rest of the horse,” Whitacre suggested. “Then put the horse in the shade, ideally with some airflow.” 

“Intravenous fluid administration can be performed by a veterinarian if there is concern the horse has become dehydrated,” Whitacre said. “Don’t be afraid to have a veterinary exam performed upon your arrival if you think anything is amiss.” 

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