7 RULES FOR SAFER TRAVELS
Since Parker and I won our battle against shipping fever, I’ve spoken with many veterinarians and read up on the causes of respiratory infection related to travel. Now, whenever I’m traveling more than four hours with my horse, I follow these rules:
• Do not tie the horse’s head unless it’s necessary to minimize bickering among travel companions. Even then, allow each horse as much slack as possible to raise and lower his head.
• If you need bedding at all, use only big flake shavings to minimize the amount of dust swirling inside the trailer.
• Every four hours, stop and let the horses rest inside the trailer; unhook their heads so they can lower them. Rest for at least 20 minutes and ventilate the trailer as much as possible during that time. Seal manure and soiled bedding in a plastic-lined container to reduce the amount of airborne bacteria inside the trailer.
• After eight hours of travel, find a place to stop where you can safely unload the horses and allow them to graze with their heads down for at least 20 minutes. If there’s no grazing, place a haybag on the ground so they must lower their heads fully to eat.
• When you are planning a longer trip, try to break up the drive—leave late in the day and stay somewhere overnight, for example, so you’ll have a shorter trip on the following day.
• Never tie horses to a highline after they have traveled a long time in the trailer.
• Invest in an immunesupport supplement and start feeding it a few weeks prior to your big trip.— Debra Martin Arnesen thought Parker’s body would be able to clear the remaining fluid with just the help of antibiotics, which we would continue for another week. Parker would still need many months of rest before I could ride him again, and whether he’d ever be able to reach the level of activity we’d once enjoyed wasn’t clear. But he would live.
As I left the clinic that day, Arnesen told me that he normally sees three or four cases of pleuritis each year, yet he’d already seen five so far that year, and it was only July. Of those five, only two had survived---Parker had been one