Road to the AECs- A Review of my Worries: Part 1

If horses have taught me anything in life, it’s to take nothing for granted. So despite the fact that I have worked very hard, put lots of hours and certainly lots of dollars towards the goal that is the AECS, I’m all too aware of the fact that Jack could get an abscess at the last minute and all of my planning could go up in smoke. I realize that’s a bit of a cup half empty sort of approach, but that’s my current mindset.

There’s lot of little things that need to add up and go well to get to Kentucky and be able to participate, so I figured I would share a little bit of where my brain is / aka ask you to join in the anxiety that is my reality these days.

 

One of my main concerns, if indeed we make it to the point of actually traveling to Kentucky, is the trailer ride there. I’ve never [by myself] hauled a horse more than a few hours, and currently I am positioned to drive the better part of a day to another state.

Jack is an excellent loader, but not the world’s most casual rider. He doesn’t tend to eat in the trailer (in fact very rarely does he take a few bites even) and his typical MO includes peeing as soon as he gets on board. So, dehydration is an issues as well as keeping his stomach filled.

Not on the menu: Hands

I intend to load him up on omeprazole to keep his tummy happy, but I’m worried about how I’m going to get him to drink in the trailer. I was thinking I would have water in a large gas can (never used for gas of course) so that I could offer him water in a small bucket at stops, but I’m doubtful that he would actually accept such an offer.

I also am just straight up worried about him standing on a trailer for so many hours. I was thinking of investing in trailer eyes, but given the many costs of getting to this point, I’m having a hard time justifying it. To those who have trailer cameras- do you find it gives you peace of mind? Is it possible to find such things second hand?

And then, there’s the fact that I’ll more than likely be in the cab by myself, focusing on staying focused (a conundrum) and trying to keep myself from going insane. My truck doesn’t have bluetooth, but I’ll be looking into podcasts or audio books that I can download to my phone. I really enjoyed the Root of Evil podcasts, which was fascinating and macabre, and would love suggestions on your most entertaining ways to pass the time in the car.

Please, tell me your best practices for trailering such long distances! I hate driving, and all this is freaking me out!

 

41 thoughts on “Road to the AECs- A Review of my Worries: Part 1

  1. Well, not sure how helpful I can be since I have limited (no) experience with trailering by myself. However,May used to be a strict, no drinking water except at home, believer. Horse Quencher really encouraged her to drink away from home. I might give it a trial at home to see how Jack likes it.

    For me, I love audiobooks, but I hate the cost. So I joined my library and got the libby app on my phone. Tons and tons of free audiobooks.

      • I can second Horse Quencher –

        A girl I used to board with used Horse Quencher for her mare offsite at horse shows, because her mare would never drink off property, no matter how hot it was. I saw her use it first hand. It was miraculous! Horse sucked it down!

        • Remus would not touch the horse quencher so get it early so Jack tries it before on the road. HOWEVER I dump a handful or two of Purina senior in a bucket of water and Remus will drink it all to get to the grain (ahem that is Remus of course). Good luck!! Jack really doesn’t eat on the trailer? How odd….How long of a ride is it to KY from your area?? Will he eat if you stop? Wonder if it is worth stopping a bit to let him munch. GOOD LUCK

  2. Yes, load him up on the omeprazole. Start probios early. Give electrolytes starting a few days before to make sure he is as hydrated as possible prior to the trip. I also like to water down their feed.

    • The drive will be ok! Just have plenty of audio entertainment and plan your stops and rests. Don’t pack too many snacks etc to ensure that you are stopping enough for you and the horses.

      • All good advice! Jack is already on electrolytes, so at least there’s that. My plan is to start omeprazole 3 days before we go, and be aggressive with it throughout our trip. Probios I haven’t considered yet…

  3. I’ll be honest, before I had a trailer camera I thought it was a luxury but now that I have one I think it’s an absolute necessity. It’s saved me so much worry, and I can see exactly how my horses are traveling, if they’re eating, if they’re stressed, if they’re hot, etc. 200% worth it, would do again in a heartbeat even if it cost 5x as much. It gives me so much information that I can use to tweak what I’m doing when I haul or what my plan will be when I arrive.

    As for water, we hung buckets on our last trip (two 8+ hour days) and to my surprise the horses actually drank well. I can NEVER get Henry to drink from a bucket when we’re stopped, and I really didn’t expect him to drink while we were in motion if I left a bucket up, but to my surprise he drank almost a full bucket during the drive. We hung them from the center dividers and filled them about 3/4 full, adding more water at stops if they drank them down. Now I will always hang a bucket for him on drives over 2 hours.

    Another trick if you’re worried about hydration is to soak his regular grain meals (or alfalfa pellets/cubes) in water. That’ll get a little bit more liquid into him without changing anything about his diet and potentially causing gastric upset.

    I have a post drafted about our long haul, and what we did, and what I’ve learned from doing this so many times now. It’s been a bit of trial and error over time but this trip our horses both arrived fresh and happy both ways, so I think we’ve finally got it figured out!

    • I really like that idea about hanging the buckets from the center divider; I think Amber would drink much better that way. We have a slant load, and that certainly makes it a lot harder to hang a bucket in there.

      • I will definitely try hanging a bucket on the divider- that actually won’t be so difficult for me. Though what do you use to hang it?

        Also- would love more details on what your trailer cam set up is!!

        • Depending on your trailer you can get a bucket strap to hang it (kind of a bungee without hooks). There are a lot of options even if you have to tie it up and retie it each time. Good luck. Are you traveling by yourself (no one following you) sometime it helps if someone is behind you so they can watch Jack too.

  4. I’ve hauled across a lot of distances. For the longest time Amber wouldn’t drink on long hauls, and there was not much I could do about it, despite the fact that we stopped every few hours for bathroom breaks, clearing her hind feet area of the trailer if she pooped or peed and offering her water. (Tho I’ll have to try the Horse Quencher Emily suggested if I need to haul her for a long time again) I made sure she had grass to nibble, and sometimes that helped her want to drink.
    As for me, I think audiobooks are a good choice. Also music that I like to dance to to help me stay alert. I used to drive from FoCo to LV and back for breaks during college (a solid 11 1/2 hours each way) so I would also bring a waterbottle and sip on that. Hauling long hours I either go the speed limit or 5-ish below and just stick it on cruise control.
    Honestly, the first few long hauls are your most nerve-wracking ones. The more you do it, though, the better it gets. It’s really like everything else that takes some practice, and I think you’ll do just fine 🙂 I’ve found that having a safety checklist (checking the hitch 2x, chains, brakes hooked up/light checks, etc) really helps, and once that’s done you’re as safe as you can be. You can’t account for crappy drivers, but I’ve found people in states that have a lot of frequent horse trailers on the roads are generally really good about truck/trailer safety. I hope I helped a little and didn’t make you MORE nervous haha!
    I’m super excited for you about the AECs! Can’t wait to hear all about it!

  5. Sent you a facebook message about Trailer Eyes.
    We used to haul 10-12 hours relatively frequently to show. I like podcasts over audiobooks, but that’s a personal thing – Major League Eventing is fun, plus I like Crime Junkie because what’s better on a Monday morning commute than some murder?
    We always dropped the bars and offered water when we stopped for gas, but neither of my mares were ever picky about water. Electrolytes a day or two before, hay to snack on and some probios type stuff. We didn’t wrap legs because of heat, but I know that’s an individual thing.

  6. We’ve trailed quite a lot. Going to Coconino was the longest drive (about 10 and 8 hours each day). We also did about 8 hours coming back from the redwoods. Because of the complete dearth of event facilities in California, just going to a schooling HT could involve a 5 hour drive so our horses were often on longish trailer rides. Ours refused to drink on the trailer, but their regular food is wet beet pulp so I made extra soupy mashes and fed them as we went along. I give lots of Ulcerguard. Be careful of giving too many electrolytes on the day of traveling. If he won’t drink in the trailer, he’ll just be extra dehydrated if you’ve poured a bunch of salt into him that morning. But, like other said, lots of electrolytes leading up to the trip so you know he’s not dehydrated to start. If you’re only taking 1 horse, consider removing the divider and giving him a box stall. This is super helpful for horses on long drives. The more they can move around, the better. We did that for Eugene the one time we trailered him alone for 7 hours. Lastly, we paid for transport, but ours recently were shipped from CA to VT and the trip took 3 days. They got ulcerguard, but no electrolytes. They did have water on the trailer and they had box stalls. No leg wraps. Everyone arrived looking totally fine, like they hadn’t even been on a trailer.

  7. I can’t speak to long distance hauling, but I can suggest some podcasts (you may already know some of them)! I’m really into the true crime ones right now, and some are MUCH better than others in terms of production: White Lies, Bear Brooks (my current fav), Dead Man Talking. I balance out these darker ones with comedy/celebrity interviews: Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, Armchair Expert (these are long and there is a big backlog), Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend. More interesting/thinking ones: This American Life, Hidden Brain, Ted Radio Hour.

  8. When I moved Gwyn across the country it was 5 days of 8-10 hours of driving each day. I made sure we stopped midway through for a longer gas/meal break so that she got a break from the vibrations. She was practically drowning in hay but really not interested in water until we stopped for the night, at which point she guzzled. She didn’t look worse for wear and I was adding electrolytes and feeding soupy mashes for meals.

    I like podcasts. I listen to ones from NPR, especially RadioLab and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. They’re about an hour each and it helps the time fly. I also listen to livestreams of people playing DnD but that may not be your jam, but at nearly 4hrs an episode, it REALLY makes the time fly.

    • Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me is definitely a favorite of mine and I’ll be for sure listening to that! I’m hoping I can coax Jack to eat with soupy mashes… fingers crossed!

  9. I can’t say I know much about the dynamics of the US weather in any location, let alone where you are and will be travelling too.

    But that being said, Australia can also get quite hot, so if I ever travel during Summer there’s a few things I’ll absolutely do.

    Knowing the horse’s regular TPR is handy, so you can assess prior to travel and once they’re done.Electrolyte paste on top of electrolytes in their feed is always handy. My horses generally eat/drink well so I haven’t had any concerns there before, but I find they are always more comfortable rugless no matter how much ventilation you have.

    • The TPR is a really good idea, thank you for adding that to the discussion! And as for the weather… we’re basically going from HOT + HUMID to hot 🙂

      • Oh I hate humid 😦

        As for distractions when driving – I love listening to crime podcasts. My favorites are Casefile True Crime, Serial Killers and The Teacher’s Pet.

        I have weird hobbies haha

  10. I haven’t traveled long distances with my horses more than a few times. When we have, we usually stop every 3 hours to give them a break, offer water, treats, what-have-you. I also make sure to electrolyte in days leading up to the trailer ride so they go into it really hydrated.

    Due to endurance, my mare is used to taking syringed electrolytes and is really, really polite about it (doesn’t hurt that I make mix my own in a buffer of applesauce + molasses so they’re super yummy…I always taste them first lol). Because she takes a syringe so easily, I will sometimes syringe her water at stops. Depending on the trip, I may also give her a partial electrolyte dose near the end of the trip so that she is more likely to drink upon our arrival (I try to stop for gas as close to the destination as possible so I have a full tank to head home with). I always syringe plenty of water after any electrolyte dose, too, so that any salt etc. isn’t sitting in her mouth.

    • Jack is unfortunately… less polite… about syringes 😉 He uses his height against me for sure. Still, if he doesn’t drink at all trying a syringe with water is definitely a really interesting idea!!

      • The trick I used with Q was to do nothing but syringe her straight applesauce mixed with honey or molasses for a while. She learned that syringes don’t always mean yuck and we’ve had an easy time ever since.

  11. Save up one gallon milk jugs and use them for your water, that way you can drink from them too if needed. Research possible horse boarding areas along the way for just in case. Purchase US Rider Equestrian Motor Plan. I think it was about $149.00.
    They will rescue you, your truck, trailer and horse if something goes wrong.
    Good luck!

    • Gallon milk jugs- that’s a great idea! Much easier to lift and refill than my giant gas can (though I’ll bring both).
      I’ve heard mixed things about the US Rider Motor Plan- have you used it yourself?

      • No, knock on wood , I haven’t had too. I don’t know of any other ones. Good Sam and triple a are both great for cars and trucks without trailers . I have used them on my cars .

      • No, knock on wood , I haven’t had too. I don’t know of any other ones. Good Sam and triple a are both great for cars and trucks without trailers . I have used them on my cars .

  12. I’ve never been in that position but I think at some point a horse gets very hungry and thirsty and will start eating or drinking what’s offered. Hopefully that helps alleviate some of the stress (though I am catching up so this might all be moot!)

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