Travelling with horses can sometimes be a stressful occasion. Whether you are travelling long or short distances, there is a lot to consider before you load your horse onto the float.
We have compiled our top tips to help make your floating experience a safe and enjoyable one.
There are a few key things to consider before taking to the road.
First up, it is important to complete a vehicle safety check each and every time you float your horse.
Your towing vehicle and float should be serviced regularly to ensure that they are both in peak towing condition. The indicators, hazards, head lights, float connectors and tyre pressure in both your towing vehicle and your float should be checked as part of your routine safety inspection.
It is good practice when you have finished with your float to make sure it is checked for any wear and tear that may have occurred while travelling.
Also, ensure that you clean out any manure and/or urine, as this may affect the integrity of the float floor over time.
It may seem a little over the top, but it is much better to be cautious before setting off, in order to ensure the safety of your horse, yourself and others on the road.
Loading your horse safely
It is important to remember when loading your horse onto the float, that horses are flight animals, and a frightened or nervous horse may not act the way they usually do. Not all horses will walk happily up a loading ramp and stand quietly whilst you secure them. Having a consistent float loading routine with your horse, loading them on the same side with the same technique each and every time, where possible, will give your horse confidence and make the float a safe destination for your horse.
Plan your trip around you and your horse’s floating experience. If float loading and floating is new to you, asking a more experienced friend or training for assistance may be the safest option.
Floating your horse safely
Now that you have done your safety checks, and your horse is loaded and happy – you are ready to set off to your destination! If you have towed a trailer you should already have an idea of what it is going to feel like , just remember that towing a horse in a float is a great deal different to towing a box trailer or an empty float. Be wary that horses are a ‘loose’ load., which means that when they move, your float moves with them causing the float to move on the road.
Horse floats also take longer to stop safely whilst braking than a car. Consider the road and weather conditions and ensure that you leave enough space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. Drive to suit your horse, as some horses are not very confident being floated or may have had a bad experience. Remember, the smoother the ride, the better the floating experience for your horse!
If you are nervous about a journey because it is a difficult drive, see if there is another route that you can take. If there is a longer journey, but easier path that can be taken, it may be worth it for the safety of yourself and your horse.
If possible, we also recommend taking a friend with you to help calm the nerves!
Unloading your horse safely
Unloading is often overlooked, as most of us are so focused on getting our horses to load onto the float that getting them off is an afterthought. While some horses will walk casually back down the ramp; it is not the case for all horses. If you have a horse that tends to rush off the float, perhaps having a friend help unload rather than trying to manage alone would be safer.
If you’re travelling alone, for example at a competition, there is usually someone nearby who will happily assist at the tailgate for you, while you manage your horse’s head to guide them off slowly.
If you are inexperienced or concerned about floating your horse, float training at home with an experienced friend or trainer should be considered. The key thing to remember when floating is that your safety and your horse’s safety is the most important thing!