Travelling Tips

Each horse has its' own preferred travelling style & a horse can develop it's style over time and through experience, however there are certain conditions that make it easier for a horse to manage travelling conditions better and certain features that accommodate horses needs better.

For more information on the benefits of rear facing travel, see the study on our website here.

Apart from having their heads facing to the rear, and the reduction in forces by having the horses lower to the ground and closer to the front of the vehicle, the following also helps all horses:

Training

Your horse will generally be better at travelling if they have been taught to stand and “park”.  Groundwork with your horse is very important to be able to manoeuver each leg and part of their body to sets of trained responses.  Before teaching any horse to load and travel you should be confident & calm with them on the ground.  This type of training is an entirely different subject and we have various contacts we would be happy to recommend in this regard.  Of course making the loading experience as stress free as possible is the ultimate aim and we are not against using food rewards for a horse that has responded correctly.

The other area for training is ramps, it can be a good idea to test your horse over ply on the ground so they can get used to the sound of their hooves on the surface.

Load training can be done over a few days for short bursts of 20 minutes if required, ensuring that the horse finishes on a positive note each time. 

The ability to lower the head to help keep the horses centre of gravity lower and to be able to move the head around a counter balance around corners

The chest bar in each Horse Van is designed to be the correct height for a certain height range of horses (& can be customized to suit your individual horses heights).  This allows for their heads to lower over the chest bar without being so low as to encourage climbing the chest bar wall.  If we have chest bins/tack lockers positioned under the horse’s head, they are always lower than the top of the chest bar to allow some drop in the horse’s head for better travelling.  If you travel together very different height equines, we have solutions for that too, such as removable chest bins for ponies within the horse body area.

Space - the freedom to rock from side to side, lean forward and back and to spread their legs

Although there are exceptions to every rule, most horses like space.  The more space the more comfortable they feel. Horse Van provides for generous bay widths and lengths and various partition styles including half height and rubber skirts.

Full back support

It has been difficult for me to find other partitions in NZ that provide full back support.  Partitions must be high enough at the top to cover the horse’s top line.  And be strong and solid enough for them to feel secure leaning against them.  I have come across horses that actually rely on the partition and/or wall on each side of them to lean against around corners.  These horses also tend to prefer a slightly smaller bay width.    

Driving style

We all know about this one, drive slower especially around corners and over bumps, steady braking etc!  In a Horse Van the horses feel exactly what you feel and the ride is very smooth.

Open view, fresh air and temperature

This is linked to providing enough space, in this case, headspace.  The more open the view the more inviting and comfortable for the horse.  Space, light, windows and fresh air are very important as they all give a horse the feeling of having more room.  A horse with its head jammed up against a wall in a dark truck or float is generally not as appealing to them.  Having enough opening windows and roof vents is a must, Horse Vans always have at least 3 opening windows and 2 roof vents in the horse area with the ability to add more and electric fans, temperature readers and even horse area air conditioning for very hot climates.  Our composite fibre glass panels are also fully insulated, plus the top of our roofs are kept white to also help with temperature control.  Avoid travelling in high winds, storms or extreme temperatures.  With any float, truck or van there is the risk of being forced sideways by high winds or even tipping over.

Comfort

Like us, the trip will be more comfortable for your horses with adequate water, food and comfortable padding.  Water can be difficult to supply while travelling so ensure your horses have access to clean fresh water during the lead up to loading and stop every few hours to offer them a drink.   Hay bags can be used to provide food and Horse Vans have soft padding on the partitions, thick rubber floor and wall padding and soft head-boards.  The windows at the horses head are also protected by aluminium bars that are not joined to the window frame, this means that if a horse does bang its head on the bars that there is no chance of the window smashing.  Making sure the horse area is clean before travelling also adds to your horses comfort.  We also recommend where possible to stop and unload when travelling for more than 4 hours for the purposes of allowing your horses to stretch, relax, maybe eat some grass and an opportunity to clean out the horse area, this also gives the driver a chance to rest too.  Horse Vans have drainage holes in the horse area and built in or portable hoses and pressure washers are available.

Practice

Sometimes horses become more comfortable with travelling with more practice.  If you only ever travel your horse locally for 5 – 10 minutes and your horse is fidgety and not relaxed, and if you have checked all of the above issues are correct.  It may be that they need a little time to settle in and work out how to best deal with the forces at work during travel.   If your horse is desperately unhappy, I would unload and start from the top of the list again.

Horse Vans - YouTube

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