Two million people in the United States own just over 9 million horses, and the horse industry brings significant revenue to the country, raising nearly $40 billion annually. Unsurprisingly, as part of this thriving industry, owners must often move their horses around, and horse trailers are a common sight on American roads. Nonetheless, if you don't handle the trailer and its contents correctly, you can seriously injure your horse. Find out about four common mistakes horse trailer owners make that can easily lead to serious injuries for their horses.
Improper use of hay nets
Horses love to feed, and it's a good idea to make sure the animals have plenty of food to last a long journey. For many horse owners, hay nets are a great way to stock up on feed. By suspending the net from the roof of the trailer, you can give the horse a plentiful supply of hay that he or she can easily get to.
However, used improperly, hay nets are dangerous. Empty hay nets can slowly sag towards the floor of the trailer. If the net sags low enough, the material can get close to a horse's leg, increasing the risk that the animal will get tangled in the netting. As well as causing stress, this situation can also damage the horse's tendons.
As such, when you use a hay net, you must make sure you hang the device high enough to avoid dangerous sagging when the netting is empty.
Failure to properly use leg wraps
When you're carrying more than one horse, it's always advisable to use leg wraps. Horse boots and wraps protect horses from injuries that their traveling companions can cause. There are various devices on the market, but quilted or padded wraps are often a popular choice. You can even buy special chaps for horses!
Wraps are also good for horses in transit after an event or show jumping, when the device helps control any swelling. That aside, it's a good idea to invest in high-quality products made from breathable materials, which can actually keep the animal's legs cool. When wrapped too tightly or with the wrong materials, wraps can trap heat against the horse's leg and cause an injury.
Poor horse training
Horses won't instinctively wander in and out of a trailer without training. The confined space of a trailer may seem dangerous to your horse, so you need to prepare the animal for the experience. You can use obstacle training and simulated confined spaces outdoors before the horse has to contend with a real trailer, and you need plenty of time in and out of the trailer with the horse before your first run on the road.
Similarly, horses won't instinctively know how to back out of the trailer, and if you don't show the animal what to do, he or she may panic, which can lead to a serious injury. Even if you drive a larger trailer, you never know when you may need to transfer the animal to a smaller, more confined vehicle, so it's important to prepare the animal. Have the animal step up with his or her front feet into the trailer and then quickly back off. Keep repeating this exercise until the horse is more comfortable.
Failure to control insect infestation
Trailer owners may not regularly use their vehicle, especially at certain times of the year. As such, horse trailers can sit unattended in barns or sheds, where they may attract unwanted insects. These insects can alarm and aggravate a horse. Some insects, like wasps, may even injure your horse.
To make matters worse, if you don't check for problematic insects, you probably won't notice the issue until you get on the road. If a wasp or bee stings a horse while you're in transit, the animal is likely to panic, which could result in an even more serious injury. As such, you should always check your trailer for pests and insects before you use it, especially if you haven't taken the trailer out for some time.
If you don't use your horse trailer properly, you could easily injure your horses. Make sure you buy the right type of trailer, and make sure you use the vehicle safely, or you could face expensive veterinary bills.