There is a lot that you need to know about moving a horse before you get started. There are certain requirements you need to be aware of before you begin to ensure that you are moving your horse in the safest manner possible and following all regulations.
There are two ways to move your horse-- doing it yourself with a horse trailer or hiring a professional moving company that specializes in transporting horses. Whichever direction you decide to go in, it's best to familiarize yourself with all of your options before you begin your planning.
Requirements for shipping a horse
- Make sure your horse has visited the vet within the last 30 days. Although this isn't required by all horse shippers, it is still a good idea to have the vet give your horse a thorough checkup to ensure that it is healthy enough to make the move.
- Check to see whether your horse has had a negative Coggins test within the last year. All states require this documentation ito ship your horse--however some states such as California, Florida and Arizona require to you provide the shippers with original documentation of the negative test results, while most other states will accept copies.
- Make sure your horse is up to date with vaccinations and leave at least two weeks between the vaccinations and your moving date, as the horse should have two weeks to recover from being immunized.
- Although many horse shippers do provide hay for the horse to eat during the move, you should provide your own supply of hay as it's likely what the horse has become accustomed to eating. Any change to the animal's dietary patterns can cause undue stress during the move.
- During the trip, make sure that your horse is wearing the proper attire, as you want to ensure that it will be as comfortable as possible while in transit. Outfit your horse in a leather halter for the trip, rather than a nylon or rope one--leather is easier to remove in case of emergency. Depending on the climate and the temperature when you are moving, you may also want to consider providing a blanket for your horse as well as shipping boots or leg protectors that can keep your horse safe and prevent any injury during the move.
- Keep a fresh supply of water available for your horse at all times during the trip. Depending on how far you will be traveling, you should stop periodically to check on your horse and give it some water to keep it hydrated.
Finding a horse shipper
If you're new to transporting a horse and worried you're not fully prepared for a move of that magnitude, you can always hire a professional horse shipper to transport your horse for you. The horse shipper will provide a comfortable trailer for your horse as well as food and water during the trip, but the exact accommodations provided by each shipper vary.
To make sure that your horse has all the necessary amenities during the move, ask your horse shipper several important questions to ensure that your horse is transported safely and securely with a professional and reputable company.
- Check to make sure that the company you are using to ship your horse is legally licensed and insured to ship horses. This is perhaps the most important thing to check because your insurance company may not cover your horse if you ship it using a company that is not properly licensed and insured.
- Ask your shipper how much experience they have shipping horses and whether or not your horse will be insured by them during the move.
- Always remember to ask the shipper how many stops they make along the way to allow the horse to drink and relieve itself. Some moves can be pretty long, requiring many hours on the road, so it's important to make sure that your horse is stopping to be watered and allowed to rest for a short period of time before getting back on the road.
- Also ask your shipper how many horses typically travel with them at one time. Some companies may ship multiple horses at once, and it's helpful to know if your horse is going to be kept with other horses for a long period of time, especially if you want to find out the size of the trailer to make sure that your horse has sufficient space.
- Ask whether the company you are using requires you to make any kind of deposit before the move, and if so, how much. Be on the lookout for companies who ask you to put down a large amount of money as a deposit. Fraudulent shipping companies will sometimes request you to place a large deposit down to reserve a space, and it's best to do a thorough background check on their credentials and ask for references if necessary.
Getting your horse ready for the move
Moving is just as stressful on our animals as it is on us, so helping your horse prepare for the upcoming move well in advance of moving day will better help it cope with the trip.
There are a few things you can do leading up to your move to get your horse prepared for the trip and help it to gradually adjust to the conditions it might experience during the move.
- Shipping boots are recommended for horses when they are being shipped. They are protective boots that keep the horse's legs stable during loading and unloading and protect the horse from possible injury. To get your horse accustomed to wearing shipping boots, gradually introduce the horse to wearing them prior to the move.
- If you are moving the horse with your own trailer, take some time leading up to the move to practice walking the horse on and off the trailer and get it used to being inside the trailer prior to the move.
- Make the trailer look as inviting as possible for your horse. Stock it with some fresh water and hay and place bedding down on the floor to make a soft surface for it to stand. Open all of the windows to let in as much light and fresh air as possible so that your horse can be comfortable during the trip.