The Ride In­side

Here are seven ways to con­trol your trailer’s in­te­rior en­vi­ron­ment to en­hance your horse’s health, safety, com­fort, and well-be­ing.


Here are seven ways to con­trol your trailer’s in­te­rior en­vi­ron­ment to en­hance your horse’s safety, com­fort, and well-be­ing.

AAs you shop for a trailer, con­sider the in­te­rior en­vi­ron­ment. Get in­side. Close the doors and win­dows. Is it quiet? Is it too hot? Too drafty? Is it dark? Can you change the en­vi­ron­ment for the bet­ter? Can you open vents and win­dows if it’s too hot? Can you eas­ily keep out drafts with­out lim­it­ing ven­ti­la­tion? Your trailer’s in­te­rior en­vi­ron­ment mat­ters to your horse. A light-col­ored, well­vented, com­fort­able trailer will not only in­vite him in and en­hance his well-be­ing on the road, but can also help keep him healthy and safe.

Here, we’ll give you seven ways you can con­trol your trailer’s in­te­rior en­vi­ron­ment: (1) in­su­late your trailer; (2) eval­u­ate the vents; (3) in­stall safe win­dows; (4) con­sider in­te­rior color; (5) con­sider ex­te­rior color; (6) add in­te­rior light­ing; (7) add a fan. Here’s a closer look.

#1 In­su­late Your Trailer

In­su­la­tion keeps the out­side out and the in­side in. An in­su­lated trailer will be cooler in the sum­mer and warmer in the win­ter. Out­side noise will be dead­ened, and your horse will be more pro­tected from high­way sounds. All these fac­tors will en­hance his ex­pe­ri­ence in­side the trailer.

In­su­la­tion is highly rec­om­mended for ex­treme tem­per­a­tures, hot or cold. If your trailer has a dual wall, the in­su­la­tion be­tween the walls helps to keep out the heat, so the in­ner wall stays cool. Note that if the walls are in­su­lated, it could be overkill to in­su­late the roof. The vents, win­dows, and doors will al­low a nice air­flow to keep your horse happy.

In cold weather, in­su­la­tion will help keep your horse warm. How­ever, in cold weath- er, you need to man­age an in­su­lated trailer dif­fer­ently than you would a non-in­su­lated one, or the ben­e­fits of in­su­la­tion can be neu­tral­ized.

In­su­la­tion al­lows heat to build up from your horse’s body heat, un­less it can es­cape through a vent or win­dow. If your trailer is highly in­su­lated and fairly air­tight, clos­ing all the win­dows and vents in cold weather can cause the en­vi­ron­ment to be­come hot and steamy, and even dam­age your horse’s re­s­pi­ra­tory sys­tem.

Even if the weather is very cold, it’s bet­ter to open the vents and some win­dows to al­low air­flow, then blan­ket your horse to keep him warm.

#2 Eval­u­ate the Vents

Your trailer’s ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem should be ad­e­quate enough to pro­vide your horse with the clean­est en­vi­ron­ment pos­si­ble. Vents are de­signed for this pur­pose, but they can’t do the job alone.

Even if your trailer has lots of win­dows or open stock sides, roof vents serve a twofold pur­pose: They al­low air flow to come into the trailer from above, and they al­low heat to es­cape out the vents when the trailer isn’t mov­ing.

An over­head vent for ev­ery horse in the trailer is the best op­tion.

The most ef­fi­cient vents are two-di­rec­tional. They can be opened to­ward the front to bring in more air or to­ward the back to bring in less air. This al­lows you to reg­u­late the air­flow that comes in from the top. Ad­just the vents ac­cord­ing to your speed and cli­mate.

#3 In­stall Safe Win­dows

Win­dows can en­hance your horse’s com­fort and health by pro­vid­ing light and tem­per­a­ture con­trol.

Light is im­por­tant. A dark trailer is in­tim­i­dat­ing to your horse. As a prey an­i­mal, he fears he may be­come trapped by a preda­tor. When your trailer al­lows light to en­ter, it be­comes more invit­ing to him. An open stock trailer, with slats is also more invit­ing.

Some en­closed trail­ers have op­tional ex­tra side win­dows that light the trailer in­te­rior all the way around to the front.

Win­dows also add more ven­ti­la­tion con­trol, es­pe­cially in in­su­lated trail­ers. Ad­just the win­dows in re­la­tion to the stall’s in­te­rior cli­mate to get the op­ti­mum in­te­rior tem­per­a­ture.

Most win­dows are made from ei­ther Plex­i­glas or tem­pered safety glass. Plex­i­glas win­dows tend to ex­pand and con­tract, so they might not eas­ily open and close in ex­treme heat. Bus-type win­dows are most com­mon. How­ever, in the trailer’s nose, a crank-out win­dow is more wa­ter­tight aga inst driv­ing rain. Win­dows in the horse area should close from the out­side so you don’t have to squeeze into your trailer with your horse to close them.

Bar guards pro­tect your horse if he loses his bal­ance and hits the win­dow with his head, or rears and strikes the win­dow with his hooves. Make sure the bars have no sharp edges. Look for round bars that are re­cessed into or placed flat against the win­dow open­ing. Bars should be spaced closely enough that your horse can’t catch a hoof in them.

Make sure the win­dows are sealed around the frame to keep ex­cess mois­ture out of the in­ner walls and to keep leak­age at a min­i­mum.

Screens keep out­side de­bris from blow­ing into a mov­ing trailer; road de­bris can harm your horse’s eyes and lungs. Screens also dis­cour­age wasps and bees from mak­ing nests in­side your trailer when it’s stored with the win­dows open.

#4 Con­sider In­te­rior Color

A light-col­ored in­te­rior is invit­ing to your horse. Horses have very good night vi­sion, but their eyes take longer than ours to ad­just to light changes. A dark trailer looks like a dark, hol­low cave to him. There could be a moun­tain lion in there!

A trailer with a light-col­ored in­te­rior (and lots of win­dows) is invit­ing to your horse. In our ex­pe­ri­ence, when horses are loaded into a trailer with a light-col­ored in­te­rior, no mat­ter what size or style, they walk in by them­selves with­out balk­ing.

Horses seem to es­pe­cially like light gray. Light gray is prob­a­bly calm­ing be­cause it’s light, but not glar­ing. We’ve found that white is an invit­ing color, too.

#5 Con­sider Ex­te­rior Color

It looks so good to have a match­ing truck and trailer. Your per­son­al­ity shows through your choice of color and de­sign for your rig. Up­scale, match­ing rigs have a look of suc­cess and pros­per­ity. But there’s more to con­sider than how your trailer looks on the out­side. You need to con­sider how your trailer’s ex­te­rior af­fects your horse’s com­fort.

Dark ex­te­rior col­ors ab­sorb light and heat, which makes the sur­face hot. If your trailer isn’t in­su­lated, the hot metal greatly af­fects in­te­rior tem­per­a­ture. If your trailer is in­su­lated, the in­su­la­tion will help pro­tect the in­side wall from the out­side wall, but still, the tem­per­a­ture will be com­pro­mised.

Light ex­te­rior col­ors re­flect light and heat, which makes the sur­face cool. White is the most re­flec­tive and coolest ex­te­rior color but sil­ver and pewter work as well. Your horse will

ap­pre­ci­ate a light ex­te­rior color, es­pe­cially on hot, sunny days.

If you’d like to match your trailer to your dark-col­ored truck, you can add cus­tom strip­ing.

A light-col­ored roof is ex­tremely im­por­tant, no mat­ter what color the rest of your trailer may be. Again, white is more re­flec­tive than any other color, in­clud­ing bare alu­minum. Most new trail­ers have light-col­ored roofs, but not all, so be dis­crim­i­nat­ing.

When buy­ing a used trailer, you’ll have to shop care­fully to find a light-col­ored or white roof. Note that some trail­ers have a color stripe be­tween the top edge of the ex­te­rior walls and the bot­tom edge of the roof, but the roof it­self is a light color. You might not be able to see this from the ground.

#6 Add In­te­rior Light­ing

There are no dis­ad­van­tages to in­te­rior trailer light­ing, and the ad­van­tages are many.

In­te­rior trailer lights can be help­ful when you load your horse on dark morn- ings be­fore leav­ing for a trail-rid­ing des­ti­na­tion or horse show. They’re also great for pack­ing your trailer the night be­fore.

In­te­rior trailer light­ing is good for your horse, too. By turn­ing on in­te­rior lights, the pass­ing out­side lights, such as traf­fic lights, are less disturbing to sen­si­tive horses.

In­te­rior light­ing makes is eas­ier to check on your horse at night. If your trailer doesn’t have liv­ing quar­ters or a dress­ing room, you might even be able to glance in your rearview mir­ror into your trailer’s front win­dows to keep an eye on your horse while driv­ing.

In­te­rior lamps should be flat against the wall or ceil­ing, where your horse can’t bump into them. A light over each door is best. Each light will have its own switch. It’s con­ve­nient to have a master switch on the out­side of your trailer that will turn the lights off and on to­gether.

You’ll need to plug your trailer into your tow ve­hi­cle for the trailer lights to work un­less you have an op­tional recre­ational-ve­hi­cle style bat­tery to run the in­te­rior lights when the trailer isn’t hitched. Be care­ful — if you ac­ci­dently leave on your trailer lights, you can drain your tow ve­hi­cle’s bat­tery and/or the RV bat­tery.

#7 Add a Fan

Os­cil­lat­ing in­te­rior fans can im­prove your trailer’s air­flow. Fans are be­com­ing more im­por­tant as many parts of the coun­try ex­pe­ri­ence hot­ter cli­mates. They can es­pe­cially en­hance equine com­fort when your trailer car­ries four horses or more, all pro­duc­ing body heat and warm breath.

Fans are most use­ful when you’re mov­ing slowly or stopped in traf­fic on a hot day.

Lo­cate the fans high enough to be out of harm’s way. In­stall bars or screens to pro­tect the fans from the horses and vice versa. TTR

Tom Scheve and Neva Kittrell Scheve (877/5751771; www.eq­ui­ are the au­thors of the na­tion­ally rec­og­nized text­book, The Com­plete Guide to Buy­ing, Main­tain­ing, and Ser­vic­ing a

Horse Trailer. Neva also has two other horse trailer books to her credit, in­clud­ing Equine Emer­gen­cies

On the Road with Jim Hamil­ton, DVM. The Scheves present clin­ics at equine ex­pos and pro­mote trailer safety through ar­ti­cles in na­tional mag­a­zines. They’ve de­signed and de­vel­oped the Eq­ui­Spirit, EquiBreeze, and ThoroS­port lines of trail­ers.

HEIDI ME­LOCCO PHOTO Your trailer’s in­te­rior en­vi­ron­ment mat­ters to your horse. A light-col­ored, well-vented, com­fort­able trailer will not only in­vite him in and en­hance his well-be­ing on the road, but can also help keep him safe and healthy. Light ex­te­rior col­ors re­flect light and heat, which helps to keep the in­te­rior cool.


A trailer with a light-col­ored in­te­rior and lots of win­dows is very invit­ing to your horse.


Bar guards pro­tect your horse if he loses his bal­ance and hits the win­dow with his head, or rears and strikes the win­dow. Make sure the bars have no sharp edges.

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