Saturday, January 21, 2012

Question About Traveling in Winter With Horses

I've got a question for my more experienced horse-friends out there in the blog world.
This is as far as I got when I first started writing this post on January 21. It is now January 26, and we have changed our minds about the whole thing. But I am going to go ahead and finish the ost because I am curious to hear other horse-owners' views on this.
My brother lives in the beautiful North Woods of Wisconsin. He met some people up there who have horses. Of course he told them about his sister and brother-in-law living in Indiana with horses. Before too long we found ourselves in e-conversations with two different people up there who graciously and generously invited us to come up for some riding. They both offered their barns for boarding our horses (even had a little friendly competition between the two of them to try to "woo" us to their particular barn!). We were excited about the prospect of riding in the North Woods. We made plans to go up there over Memorial Day weekend 2011.
Then John got a temp job, and we could not was disappointing, but the job was more important. So we put those plans on hold.
The temp job has come to an end, and we were toying with the idea of going up sometime in February to ride. We love winter riding, and it is just beautiful up there in winter.
Which brings me to my question......
It being about an 8 hour drive from Northwest Indiana to North Woods Wisconsin, and considering in February temperatures could be low -- anywhere from 20 degrees to Zero -- would it be too hard on the horses to make the trip?
Here are a couple of photos of our trailer. They are not the best pictures, but at the moment I am to lazy to go to the upstairs comptuer where there are better ones stored. But this gives you the idea.
We thought about blocking off the open space on the sides, and on the door at the back if the weather was severe. We thought we could also blanket The Girls.
But in the end we decided it would not be worth the risk. I would never forgive myself if one of them got sick from being too cold on the trip. Even though it has been a really mild winter around here so far (contrary to all the predictions that the Chicago area was going to have the worst winter ever in 2011-2012), it would be our luck the Arctic blast would happen right when we were making the trip.
So we will plan our riding trip for Spring.....


Desert Rose said...

i would have more than likely come up with the same decision as you horses safety would be my fist choices. Did you consult a vet to see if there was criterea for winter hauling when it is that wind chill factored in. maybe you can post again with everyones responses?

John and Regina Zdravich said...

Great idea, Desert Rose. I will check with the vet and see if there are guidelines. RZ

cdncowgirl said...

I would have first checked the forecasted weather at both locations and the areas I'd be travelling in between. If the weather looked decent I probably would have hit the road.

A couple things:
A lot of people here have similar trailers and in the winter they use plywood or plexiglass (?) to cover MOST of those openings. Not all as you do want some airflow, especially if you don't have roof vents.
If your horses have a good winter coat then use blankets at your judgement. You could always bring blankets/extra blankets along and add them if you need them.
Also, if you're returning after riding give the horses a chance to get good and dry first.

I haul in the winter and it can get very cold here! If its going to be really cold I don't load up but on those days I do I still crack my windows open a bit. (not all the way, just a crack!)

Jeni said...

I probably would have come up with the same decision just because of the temps being below 20 F.

However, for winter hauling if you ever need to. I would cover the openings on your stock trailer. They do make plexi inserts for those open spaces. Leave a couple openings at the back of the trailer for some air flow.

As for blankets - Do you currently blanket them? If not I would be hesitate to blanket them, it would depend. It gets pretty warm in the trailer, especially if it's closed up. Always take a blanket or sheet with you.

Yesterday it was 30 something here in Cincinnati. I put a cotton cooler on Rosie because she was just a tiny bit sweaty when I loaded her on the trailer to come home from the clinic. It was enough to wick whatever moisture there was off her and keep the chill off. Once I got home I brushed her hair back up (against the grain) to fluff it up again as blankets flatten it.

Shirley said...

I pretty much agree with everyone's comments; avoid hauling in the really cold weather, but if you must, close off the sides and the gap in the back door, but do allow some airflow. I do blanket on cold hauls, because there is always some wind that gets in, and with a horse that's standing still, they can get quite chilled. However, check at regular intervals to see if they are sweating; you'd have to take the blanket off. A polar fleece cooler is a good option too, as they won't get too hot and it wicks the moisture away, but they are standing there with a damp blanket on in that case, so keep a dry regular blanket handy to use if needed.

Breathe said...

I wouldn't haul because I wouldn't ride! If it drops under 50, im looking for a warm blanket for ME. This is why i live in Texas...Lol

But I have hauled in pretty cold temps, horses blanketed. Not -20 though.

It probably is wise to take them on a training haul with blankets on. Plenty of hay, stops for water.

But better safe than sorry, I say. Hot cocoa and horses in the barn. Spring is coming!

Ashley Ashbee said...

Do heated, closed horse trailers exist?

John and Regina Zdravich said...

Thanks everyone for your comments! Very helpful!!

~Endurance Granny said...

Our trailer is similar to your's and we live in SE Indiana. Not quite as cold as you guys, but plenty cold still. We blocked off the sides with exterior grade plywood painted the color of our trailer. It has worked very well. If it is below freezing I will blanket in the trailer as it is like a fridge in those steel trailers. I try to think what it would be like in their barn with a little breeze and use a blanket weight for that. Horses do move a lot while trailering to keep their blanance and that in itself can make them sweat, so it can work to your good or your bad! I honestly worry less about trailering than I do about road conditions. I checked the weather one weekend, hauled to the Clark State Forest and was ten miles out when it started snowing. I almost didn't get my horse trailer out of that park! The parks don't service those roads during the closed part of the season. Lesson learned. Thanks for stopping by E.G.