Travel Wear for Horses
Travelling a beloved horse for whatever reason, whether it be out of necessity for a vet or hospital visit, or for pleasure such as a competition or holiday, can be challenging. You will certainly want to ensure that your precious cargo is as safe as possible.
The following checklist gives you the basics of what your horse needs to wear to keep him protected from nose to tail…
Before travelling, all four legs need to be protected from knocks or bangs from the vehicle they’re travelling in. Whether you choose boots or bandages, it’s important that the leg is protected from above the knee and/or hock to the coronet band. It’s essential that the fit is snug but not too tight – unravelling bandages are an obvious hazard, and boots that slip can be dangerous too.
For those horses who are happy to wear them, travel boots provide maximum protection, as they're well padded and cover about three quarters of the length of the leg, particularly the hocks. These are a must if your horse doesn't travel well.
Padded, long travel boots range in both quality and price. For example, the Shires Travel Boots are very affordable - on the left below - while the Weatherbeeta Deluxe Travel Boots are - as the name suggests - a top-of-the-range travel boot.
Although not as padded or as long, the Shires Short Fleece Lined Travel Boots. will be suitable if your horse is a quiet traveler and is well behaved.
If your horse won't tolerate any sort of travel boot, there are alternatives. See below for more information.
Bandages, when fitted correctly, can protect your horse whilst travelling. Do bear in mind that, by their very nature, they only protect the lower part of the leg, between the knee and the fetlock, but they can be padded further with bandage pads. Consequently, they provide a lower level of protection than proper travel boots. For horses who somehow seem to injure themselves in the trailer, or that are not good to travel for whatever reason, bandages are used underneath travel boots.
Be sure to take care when bandaging. There is a very fine line between bandaging tightly enough to avoid slipping, and over-tightening. Similarly, trying to avoid over-tightening can lead to bandaging too loosely, which can cause a multitude of issues.
For short journeys or good travellers who are as quiet as a mouse and don’t move an inch during the journey, well-fitting brushing boots may suffice. Nowadays, there’s a wide selection to choose from, and if your travel wear is colour coordinated, there’s often a colour that’ll match your theme!
If your horse has a tendency to tread on his own feet, or if you want to be uber-careful whilst your precious cargo is in transit, it may be worth putting on overreach boots, just for that bit of extra protection. It may also help keep his shoes on!
A head collar in a good state of repair is essential. “Be nice” headcollars can be useful for loading and unloading, especially for those young, nervous and/or naughty horses, but these are not recommended for the journey itself.
Leather head collars are preferable for travelling. They break under extreme pressure or can be cut if necessary. This means that you’ll be able to easily release your horse in an emergency.
A padded head collar alleviates pressure points on the horses head, as well as offering additional protection from possible injuries that occur whilst travelling. This Shires Blenheim Cushioned Travel Headcollar is the best as it's made from leather and it's padded too. If you'd prefer something softer, the LeMieux Comfort Headcollar is lined with fleece.
For horses that are difficult to load or lead, a Control Head Collar offers more
Normal use: The leading rope is attached to the ring on the head collar.
Use with influence: The leading rope is attached to the chain ring in such a way that no pulling force is exerted on the chain
Use with strong influence: The leading rope is attached to the chain ring in such a way that pulling force is exerted on the chain.
Our collection of head collars includes something for everyone. You'll find a wide range of colours with matching lead ropes if you're after a "matchy matchy" look! If glitter or bling is your thing, or you just need something cheap and cheerful to turn out every day in, it's worth taking a quick look.
It's always a good idea to take a spare head collar and leading rope - just in case.
A good quality, strong leading rope is also essential. For travelling, one with a safety ‘quick release’ clasp is recommended, as it will actually release when put under extreme pressure. Once again, it’s advisable to take two, just in case. And nowadays your leading rope and head collar simply MUST match!
When transporting large horses or those who have a tendency to rear up, it may be worth using a poll guard. These padded pieces of foam or leather slot onto the headpiece of the head collar and provide additional padding around the delicate poll area. Take a look at Woof Wear’s simple and smart poll guard.
The body should be covered with an “appropriate” rug for the season (or nothing at all if it’s really warm). This could be anything from a quilted stable rug, through to a wicking rug, fleece, or light cotton summer sheet. A rug offers extra protection to the horses’ sides against rubbing, but more importantly, prevents a hot horse travelling home from catching a chill. It is essential the rug is a good fit and secure.
The ‘dock’, the bony section at the top of the horse’s tail, is particularly vulnerable to being rubbed when travelling. This is more of a problem with larger horses that really ‘fill’ the space in the trailer. All horses should have some form of tail protection while travelling, either in the form of a bandage or tail guard.
The tail bandage has traditionally been used to protect the tail and dock while travelling, and to help keep a pulled tail looking smart. Many owners continue to use the old-faithful, a traditional elasticated bandage. However, when bandaging tails, it’s important to get the pressure right: too loose and you risk the bandage slipping off, too tight and you could cause discomfort and/or circulatory problems. Tail bandages are reasonably priced and come in a variety of colours, so you can co-ordinate it with the rest of your travelling attire…
A tail bandage takes time and effort to put on which, when you're under pressure at an event, can be easily avoided by using more modern tail protection products. Velcro-fastened neoprene tail guards are easy to put on, take off and wash, making them the natural choice of many horse owners. They tend to offer more protection from impact than bandages, reduce the likelihood of application being too tight, and are even available with bags attached that contain the tail to keep it clean. Take a look at Woof Wear’s tail guard, which delivers ultimate convenience.
If you want to keep your horse's tail clean and tangle free, a tail bag is designed to do just that. Maximum convenience for minimum effort! Take a look at this one from Mark Todd. The nylon bag is detachable so that the tail guard can be used separately.
It’s vital for the success of your journey that you acclimatise your horse to any of the items above before travelling, to ensure that you’re able to put the equipment on him correctly, but also that he’s comfortable with it.
Need some inspiration?
We've put together an Equus Collection of horse wear for travelling. You'll find a selection of good quality travel wear for your horse. If you need any further advice or assistance then please feel free to get in touch - we're just a quick phone call away and always happy to help!