On The Road Again
By John J. Hanover, DVM
For an animal whose survival instinct is “fight or flight,” how
unnatural is it for a horse to walk into a small, noisy, unstable,
metal box with no escape route? Yet we expect them to walk in to a
trailer and travel hundreds of miles while eating, drinking,
sleeping, and eliminating in a rolling death trap.
Once they arrive in a new environment they are then expected to
perform. This is MAJOR STRESS! When horses are in a “fight or
flight” state their gut motility decreases and blood is diverted to
muscles to run or fight. This can lead to colic. Stress causes an
increase in the chemical cortisol which lowers the immune system
Here are some tips to consider that may help your horse deal with
- Get them used to loading/standing in the trailer at home
(hitched). Then start taking frequent short trips with positive
reinforcement at the end (cookies).
- Start using products to help the GI tract (probiotics) and
the immune system (transfer factors) prior to travel.
- Some vets recommend administering mineral oil before travel
to help prevent impactions.
- Bring a supply of hay, feed, and water that the horse is
- Use natural products that don’t have negative side effects
to help them relax such as essential oils.
- Make rest stops as needed where the horse can safely get out
and move around.
- Avoid traveling during the hottest part of the day and be
aware of traffic and weather conditions ahead of time.
This tip was brought to you by John J. Hanover, DVM and KAM
Animal Services, home of Cookies with a Clue, the cookie that's
really a supplement with all the ingredients your horse needs to
stay happy and healthy. Booster Bites is the cookie which helps the
immune system and Stress Busters will help keep him calm for the
journey. Check them out at