Travel Wear for Horses
When travelling horses it is advisable that they wear garments designed to protect them - after all, they are precious and delicate cargo!
There are lots of different styles and brands of travelling wear on the market, but the following checklist gives you the basics of what your horse should be wearing to keep him protected from nose to tail…
Poll Guard – When travelling large horses or those who have a tendency to become unsettled, it may be worth using a poll guard. These padded pieces of foam or leather slot onto the headpiece of the head collar and buffer the vulnerable poll from bumps and bangs on the trailer roof.
Top Tip: An elastic surcingle, even used over cross-surcingles, offers additional security and a place to secure your tail guard while being comfortable.
Bandages: Good bandaging is an art form and requires practice. Done well, it not only protects but offers support to the legs – especially useful on long and stressful journeys. Done poorly, however and there are tripping risks from bandages done too loosely while those that are too tight can cause circulatory problems and potentially serious injury. For maximum protection, bandage over gamgee or fybagee (leg-shaped pads are now available that offer protection to knee and hock joints) – if the knee and hock aren’t covered by pad, consider using knee and hock boots; overreach boots can offer extra protection to front feet.
Tail guards: Available in various materials, tail guards are either attached to the surcingle via ties and then wrapped and secured around the tail, or are of the ‘hold up’ that simply wrap and secure around the tail. 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. There can, however, be problems with them moving or slipping down the tail.
Travelling when tacked up
There are circumstances where it’s safer and more convenient to travel horses tacked up rather than tack up on arrival, especially when going hunting, dealing with horses who get over-excited on arrival, or when travelling single-handed. However, this is only recommended for shorter journeys and it’s essential to ensure the tack is secure and that stirrups and reins are well secured so that they can’t get caught.
- Leave reins over the horse’s neck, then twist then together underneath the throat until there’s little slack.
- Slip the throatlash through one rein and fasten buckle to secure.
- Fit the headcollar over the entire bridle.
- Fit the saddle as normal, but leave the girth a little looser then if you were about to ride – it needs to hold the saddle in place but be comfortable for the horse on its journey.
- Make sure stirrups are run up, then pull the ‘spare’ leather beneath the stirrup iron, pass it back underneath and then secure by putting the ‘tail’ of the leather through its keeper.
- Fit a lightweight rug over the saddle, to prevent it catching during transit.