How To Prepare Your Horse Trailer for Travel

Courtnee Morton, DVM
By Courtnee Morton, DVM on May 15, 2024
Horse loaded on a horse trailer

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Whether you’re planning on hauling your horse 10 minutes down the road for a trail ride or leaving for a cross-country haul for an event, it’s important to prepare your horse trailer so your horses stay safe, comfortable, and healthy.

Before loading your horse, inspect and clean your horse trailer and account for any supplies you may need by using these handy checklists:

Horse Trailer Cleaning and Safety

It’s important to keep your horse trailer in top working order both for ease of travel and the safety of your horses. Make sure to:

  • Inspect the horse trailer flooring for any weak points.

  • Remove and clean rubber flooring mats.

  • Clean and dry the trailer interior after the mats are removed.

  • Replace mats so they are flush to the walls, to avoid tripping hazards.

  • Check that all windows, doors, and vents can be opened, closed, and locked securely.

  • Clean the horse trailer exterior and inspect for rust.

  • Ensure tie-down rings and guard rails are secure and lubricate if needed.

  • Check the horse trailer hitch and lubricate if necessary.

  • Inspect tires (including the spare tire!) for any wear, and check tire pressure.

Horse Trailer Supplies

Some important things to keep on hand in a horse trailer include:

  • An equine first aid kit in case of emergencies.

  • Shavings to ensure your horse has safe footing and the floor doesn’t become slick if they urinate or pass manure on the trailer.

  • A hay net to allow your horse to graze while on the trailer. This helps keep their brain occupied and keeps their digestive system moving.

  • Electrolytes and water for longer journeys.

  • Your horse’s important health papers, including their yearly Coggins and vaccine records.

If you are traveling over state lines or to specific events, a current health certificate may be required. If you are headed to a show or event, always check the location’s paperwork requirements when registering to ensure your horse is up to date on all required vaccines.

Outfitting Your Horse for Travel

When your horse is going to be in a trailer, even for a short amount of time, giving their leg tendons and joints extra support is beneficial. Use shipping boots or wraps to help keep your horse comfortable.

If the trailer ride is longer, such as several days, it’s important to take frequent breaks and allow the horse to get off the trailer so they have opportunities to walk on solid ground, eat, and drink. Make sure to take along extra buckets for water and feed, for easy access while your horse is taking a break outside the trailer.

Providing electrolytes before and during long rides will encourage your horse to stay hydrated.

Adding fuzzy sleeves to your horse’s halter can help keep your horse more comfortable. For particularly tall horses or those that move around a lot in the horse trailer, a head bumper can help keep their head protected.

Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a fabulous outing with your horse!

Courtnee Morton, DVM


Courtnee Morton, DVM


Dr. Courtnee Morton is a 2017 Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine graduate. Since graduation, she completed an equine internship...

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