Trai­ler­ing tips from TG

Spin to Win Rodeo - - Competitive Edge - By Ken­dra San­tos


vet­eran Travis Graves savvies the sig­nif­i­cance of horse­power to ev­ery roper’s suc­cess. He’s learned a few tricks of the trade to help make the best of the trailer time that’s part of ev­ery rope horse’s job de­scrip­tion.

“The haul­ing is ex­tremely hard on horses, es­pe­cially when it’s re­ally hot,” said nine­time Wran­gler Na­tional Fi­nals Rodeo qual­i­fier Graves, who’s cur­rently heel­ing for Clay Tryan. “Com­mon sense goes a long way. Not tak­ing the best pos­si­ble care of that horse that helps you make a liv­ing is lazy, and is just bad busi­ness.”

Keep ’em Hy­drated

“I let my horses out ev­ery six hours on long trips, no mat­ter what,” Graves said. “And I of­fer them wa­ter ev­ery time I get them out. A de­hy­drated horse is a lot more likely to colic. A lot of peo­ple stop to fuel up and stick a bucket in the manger. When they won’t drink, they as­sume they aren’t thirsty. My good horse Manny won’t drink that way, and a lot of horses won’t. But if I take him out and walk him around, he’ll drink ev­ery time.”

Stretch Their Legs

“We know how im­por­tant it is to get out and stretch our legs, and our horses are no dif­fer­ent,” TG said. “When we stop at a truck stop or what­ever, I’m look­ing for some­where safe to un­load and walk them on dirt or grass. I of­fer them a drink, and put an­other flake of hay in front of them in the manger. And I clean the trailer out. It takes a lit­tle time to get it all done—maybe 20 to 30 min­utes—but it’s worth it. And if it’s re­ally hot, I’ll throw a bucket of wa­ter on their back or hose them off. Horses get hot and tired, just like we do.”

Keep it Clean

“There’s noth­ing worse than that am­mo­nia stink in a hot trailer,” Graves con­tin­ued. “It gets in their lungs, and if it’s re­ally bad and pro­longed it can make one sick and give a horse pneu­mo­nia. Keep your trailer clean. My fa­vorite for the trailer is the pel­let shav­ings from a place like Trac­tor Sup­ply. You wet them down, and they stay in place re­ally good. They don’t fly around, like wood shav­ings sometimes do. When a horse pees, it keeps it right there, and is easy to scoop out. They cost a lit­tle more than the pine shav­ings, but they last longer, ab­sorb bet­ter, and don’t stink as bad. So I think they’re worth it.”

Keep the Air Mov­ing

“I usu­ally haul two horses in a four-horse trailer. When I do, I open the two front win­dows, but close the front win­dows where my horses are,” Graves noted. “I keep all the back win­dows open for cir­cu­la­tion, but only open all the front ones when it’s re­ally, re­ally hot, like in Pe­cos, Texas. When I do have their front win­dows down, I don’t put hay in front of them. Ev­ery once in awhile you hear a horror story about a piece of al­falfa stem or a piece of shav­ings blow­ing up a horse’s nose and get­ting into their lungs. I keep a fly mask on my horses when haul­ing them. In ad­di­tion to keep­ing the flies off of them, it also pro­tect their eyes. Some styles pro­tect their ears, too.”

Upon Ar­rival

“Ty­ing a horse to the trailer af­ter haul­ing him 10 hours is not a rea­son­able op­tion,” Graves said. “If there are no stalls when you get there, build your horse a pen, so he can lay down. I build a hot-wire fence on grass when I can. I be­lieve this and all these other sugges­tions ex­tend a horse’s ca­reer, I re­ally do.”


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