Trailering Horses in Hot or Cold Weather Back »

Written by Anna Blechinger under the direction and review of Sara Mastellar and Heidi Carroll.


Transporting horses is a common activity for owners, so it is vital to know how to trailer safely in all types of weather. Checking the fluids, tires, brakes, lights, and hitch of your rig is extremely important every time you travel to ensure you and your horse are safe. Further information on these basics can be found in Horse Trailer Maintenance and Trailering Safety. Along with these basics, understanding safe trailering recommendations for all weather conditions safeguards equine well-being.

Hot & Cold Weather Considerations

Horses have a thermal neutral zone (comfort zone) ranging from 41 to 77° F (5-25° C). The temperature humidity index (THI or heat index) and wind chill charts can be used to guide your transportation decisions for safe trailering. Table 1. provides key reminders to ensure safe transport of equines in hot and cold weather.


Figure 1. Sunlight on a trailer increases the internal temperature, similar to a car parked in the hot sun. Credit: A. Blechinger

 

Figure 2. Many trailers have a spare tire attached. Credit: A. Blechinger


 

Additional Trailering Information

Much of the preparation for safe trailering is the same regardless of the weather. More information related to the topic of transporting horses are available.

Maintenance & First Aid Preparations

Travel & Horse Identification Paperwork

Transport & Weather: Impact on horses

Take Home Message

It is important to prepare trailers and horses for different weather conditions to keep drivers and horses safe. Road conditions are one of the most important factors of safe trailering, so be sure to keep up to date on weather conditions and construction.

Table 1. Hot and cold weather horse trailering considerations.

Factors to consider Hot weather
(~above 77° F)
Cold weather
(~below 41° F)
Equipment

- Avoid purchasing a dark colored trailer, such as black, as it absorbs heat and will make the interior of the trailer extremely hot while traveling. Sunlight on the trailer can increase temperature (Figure 1).

- Check the battery, especially if it is older.
 

- Carry emergency items including, a shovel, sand, horse blankets (heavy and light), human blankets, candle, matches or lighter, and tire chains.

- Check the battery, especially if it is older.

Blankets &
Leg Protection
- Consider removing sheets or lightweight blankets in the trailer as they compromise the ability for horses to dissipate heat.

- Take into account hair coat, level of ventilation in the trailer, distance being traveled, and ambient temperature when blanketing.

- Leg wraps or shipping boots may be more important for injury prevention due to slippery roads.
 

Ventilation

- Park in the shade when not in use.

- Prior to loading have all vents open and turn on any fans. Ventilation helps to minimize dust, heat, and gases from urine and manure.

- Rubber mats may insulate the horse from heat radiating up from the road.

- Start the trip immediately after loading the horse to facilitate maximum airflow and cooling.

-Ventilation helps to minimize dust, and gases from urine and manure; it also increases heat loss.

- Balance the amount of ventilation needed for respiratory health with anticipated heat loss and wind chill giving consideration to the length of the trip.

- Trailer designs vary and the number of vents open and how far they are open is dependent on temperature and speed being traveled (wind chill). Stock trailers may need to be manually boarded up to minimize wind chills and achieve thermal neutral temperatures.
 

Hydration

- Water the horse before traveling. Hydration in summer is important as horses sweat more and breathe faster to eliminate heat.

- Plan stops (~ every 4 hrs) to give the horse water when traveling long distances to prevent dehydration and associated health issues (i.e. colic).
 

- Water the horse before traveling. Hydration in winter is important as horses often drink less.

- Plan stops (~ every 4 hrs) to give the horse water when traveling long distances to prevent dehydration and associated health issues (i.e. colic).

Tires - Ensure tires have appropriate tread and pressures are filled to manufacturer’s recommendation. Always carry a spare, and check its pressure and tread quality (Figure 2).
 
- Ensure tires have appropriate tread and pressures are filled to manufacturer’s recommendation. Always carry a spare, and check its pressure and tread quality (Figure 2).
Road Conditions

- Be aware of the possibility of hydroplaning in hard rains.

- Plan routes to avoid construction; movement ensures adequate ventilation is maintained in the trailer.

- Be aware that precipitation and/or freezing conditions can make roads more hazardous.

References:

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