How to Ship a Horse

How to Ship a Horse

If you are a horse owner, you know that shipping a horse can be a complicated process. Luckily, there are a few steps you can take.

Whether you are transporting the horse yourself or hiring a transporter, planning is essential. This article will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to ship a horse and tips to help you prepare for the journey. 

Determine Your Mode of Transport

When it comes to shipping horses, there are a few options. The most common method of shipping horses is ground transport via a horse trailer. Horse trailers come in a variety of sizes and styles. Vehicles must meet specific standards to pull a horse trailer, and it is essential that the driver has trailering experience.

Another shipping option for horse transport is air travel. This is usually reserved for destinations that can not be reached by land. Flying horses can be costly and often requires specific quarantine periods and health inspections.

For this article, we will focus on ground transport. 

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Plan Your Route

Before shipping your horse, it is essential to plan your route. Start by determining your final destination. If you are unfamiliar with how to get there, look up directions and research your different route options. 

Be aware that not all routes are suitable for horse trailers. In some states, horse trailers are not allowed on parkways. Narrow or windy backroads may be difficult for inexperienced trailer drivers. Take these issues into consideration and choose your route wisely. 

Once you have determined which route you are going to take, plan for any necessary stops. If your travel will take multiple days, look for places along your route that you can keep your horse overnight. This will give your horse some time to rest and stretch their legs before hitting the road again. Many horse barns and fairgrounds offer temporary boarding. Make sure to call ahead and schedule in advance. 

Determine Who is Going to Transport Your Horse

Once you have determined how you will transport your horse, you need to determine who is going to drive the trailer. Some owners are comfortable hauling their horses, and many are not. 
 Animal transporters are a wonderful option for horse owners who are not comfortable driving a trailer or do not own a trailer. There are many companies with experienced drivers. Websites like Hauling Buddies are great for connecting you with a vast network of animal transporters.

Safety is essential, and you should always check your transporter’s credentials. You can use Hauling Buddies to verify the hauler’s information. 

Understand the Health Requirements

Making sure your horse is healthy enough to travel is always a top priority. Many farms, fairgrounds, and transportation companies have specific health requirements to ensure health and safety.

Unfortunately for owners, these health requirements can vary between locations and transport companies. The best way to avoid these issues is to do your research and plan ahead. Pay close attention to required vaccines and the time frame for Coggins and Health Certificates.

Schedule an Appointment With Your Veterinarian

Once you understand the health requirements, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will examine your horse and make sure they are healthy for travel. If your horse’s Coggins is out of date, they can draw blood for the testing.

A veterinary exam is also required to obtain a health certificate. 

Practice Loading onto the Trailer

If your horse has never been shipped before, it’s a good idea to have a practice run. Many horses are intimidated by the trailer, and loading can be a difficult task. If you have access to a horse trailer, practice getting on and off the trailer with your horse before your big trip. 
 Always remember to incorporate positive reinforcement. Keep the training sessions short and provide treats and praise for good behavior. 


Before putting your horse on the trailer, make sure they are well hydrated. Most horses will not drink during transport and can become dehydrated during the trip. This dehydration can cause serious medical concerns such as colic. 

Supply your horse with plenty of water before loading. Some owners find it helpful to feed a mash or soaked feed before the trip. Mashes provide an additional source of hydration, and it sometimes encourages the horse to drink more water after eating their meal. 

Safety First

Any time you are shipping an animal, safety is critical. While accidents are unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to make sure your horse is safe during transport.

Start by using a proper shipping halter. These are usually made of leather and have a breakaway feature to ensure the halter does not injure the horse during an accident. Leg wraps and shipping boots are essential for keeping your horse’s legs protected and avoiding injuries such as cuts and scrapes during transport. 
 For more information about transport safety tips, you can read our article on the topic here.

Temperature Control

When shipping your horse long-distance, make sure their ride is as comfortable as possible. Pay close attention to the temperature in the trailer. If the weather is cold, consider transporting your horse in a blanket. For open trailers, the wind can add an extra chill when the trailer picks up speed.

You should also pay attention to the trailer airflow when traveling in warm weather. Unlike the driver, horses don’t have air conditioning in the trailer. Open trailers are good for warmer weather. If your trailer has windows, considering opening them to allow for a breeze. Horses traveling in hot conditions may also need more frequent breaks for water. 

Check on Your Horse Regularly

Once you are on the road, you should keep a close eye on how your horse is doing. Horses can slip and fall during transit or fight with other horses in the trailer.

Some trailers come with small closed caption television systems so someone in the truck can monitor the horses in the trailer. If you don’t have this feature, consider making regular stops to ensure everyone is doing ok. 
 When using a transport company, talk to your transporter about how often they will stop and how they monitor the horses throughout the trip.

Final Thoughts

Shipping horses can be a stressful process for both horse and owner. But luckily, it doesn’t have to be. By following these steps, you can make sure you are prepared and make the process a more pleasant experience for everyone involved.