Originally published August 28, 2021; updated September 7, 2022
The three H’s you might want to consider when trailering or riding your horse in hot weather.
Let’s face it: summers are getting hotter and staying around longer. Extreme heat has been present in more than a few states, with some places reeling from temperatures never previously recorded including Oregon and Washington State. A combination of climate change and weather patterns has produced a deadly scenario for humans and animals alike.
So as a horse owner, what precautions are necessary when the heat soars? There are always obvious ones like access to plenty of water and shade. But summer is usually a time horse owners hit the trails, especially in northern areas…so how do you respond when the heat goes beyond the usual?
As a native Floridian, heat is something I am accustomed to, but we too are experiencing increasing and record temperatures. Yet I see horses traveling down the highway in afternoon heat that is unbearable, enclosed in trailers that become ovens in peak summer conditions. Sometimes the windows are open, but not always; some appear to be equipped with AC, but possibly only for the living quarters of humans.
I can only imagine how suffocating and grueling it must be.
As horse owners, we are responsible for making sure they do not suffer. Trailering a horse is indeed a task – and one where specific rules should apply.
Various veterinary organizations provide a formula for determining how and when it is okay to trailer or ride during the summer heat: take the temperature, add the percentage of humidity and subtract wind speed. For instance, if it is 95° Fahrenheit with 55% humidity, that equals 150°. If you have a wind speed of five miles per hour, you subtract the five, giving you 145°.
If the calculation is under 130°, your horse can cool itself effectively. If the calculation falls between 140° to 170°, then help is needed to keep the equine cool. Above 180°, your horse’s situation becomes deadly.
Add the fact that just like people, no two horses respond the same to heat…and you may have a very serious issue. For instance, my Rocky Mountain gelding lived in Tennessee for most of his life until he was brought to Florida at age 15. Now 20 years old, he has yet to acclimate; the heat and humidity are a constant irritation, affecting him physically. I have considered relocating him to a cooler state.
With curiosity, I once rode in the back of an empty horse trailer to experience what the horses were subject to…it wasn’t much fun. The driver was careful, but with the constant movement, low airflow, and unsettling feel of other vehicles just inches away…well, let’s just say it was enlightening.
Horse trailers are basic designs, with aluminum trailers being popular for long-lasting capability as they do not rust. Yet what makes them desirable also makes them a magnet for heat.
While some trailer companies insulate their trailers, many do not; living quarters are different and not included in the discussion.
Double D Trailers, owned by brothers Brad and Bartley Heath, is located in Wilmington, North Carolina. In 1994 they began selling horse trailers along with operating their own farm supply store. In doing so, they realized a need for a safer horse trailer. So, in 2007 they left the agricultural farm supply retail business behind and dedicated themselves solely to manufacturing horse trailers. In doing so, they have redesigned and produced a horse trailer that is safer and, being fully insulated, much more comfortable for its equine passengers. Comfort isn’t the only advantage offered by an insulated trailer, though.
Advantage 1: Temperature Control. An insulated trailer can lower the temp by 20 degrees, which is substantial. If this summer indicates things to come, an insulated trailer may become necessary. (Insulation makes the winter cold more comfortable as well!)
Advantage 2: Insulating Against Noise. Even horses with consistent trailer experience can still become nervous or agitated when a noise outside that metal wall dividing them and the rest of the world is overpowering. An insulated trailer doesn’t eliminate that noise, but softens them considerably and reduces the potential for startling or panic.
Advantage 3: Strength and Protection. Insulation adds another layer of protection for your equine traveler.
With all the technological advances in automobiles, communication devices, and everyday living necessities, horse trailers should be no different. Examine their design, insulation, and other factors, and find a way to make it better.
Horses are a way of life for many of us, and we will continue to travel with them far and wide. Therefore, it is only fair that we provide the safest and most comfortable modes of transport.
For more information regarding Double D Trailers, please visit www.doubledtrailers.com and tell them HRL sent you.