Stretching your horses comfort zone with travel

 

Why is travel stressful for horses and what can be done to make it less so?
On the surface it sounds simple; load up & go ride at a friend’s house.

But from Presto’s point of view it greatly stretched his comfort zone…and I didn’t even ride him.

Much of the stress comes from the change of routine. Not unlike going to a new school, or starting a new job, the unknown can be uncomfortable. For my horses, like Presto, it is important for me to begin making travel a more normal part of life.

This means traveling more frequently and traveling when it isn’t entirely ‘necessary’. Think about it from the horse’s point of view. If the only time they get on the trailer it ends with a visit to the vet or a horse show where they are ridden hard…it makes sense that they could become anxious about it.

To help Presto make this transition, I will start hauling him places without asking much of him when he arrives there. Travel and light work will be enough.
Sometimes the greatest challenge in doing this is limiting your own expectations. It can seem like a lot of work to dedicate time, effort, and travel to do something as minor as lunging.

But from Presto’s point of view, a lot more happened. He was loaded onto a trailer which he hasn’t done since his last visit to the vet. He was unloaded at a new location and tied to the side of the trailer…which has never happened before. He was lunged in a new arena with unfamiliar horses around…which left him wondering what other new changes could be coming? He was fed hay and given water while tied to the side of the trailer, which he welcomed but was also something new for him. He was loaded up again…where will I end up this time?

Although the entire trip was only five hours from start to finish it exposed Presto to many new experiences that we often take for granted our horses will understand. I will take him on small trips like this frequently just to allow him to become familiar with the rhythm of travel.

At the end of the trip when we arrived home Presto was acting more strange than normal when I unloaded him.
I began to worry as I lead him to his stall. He seemed more out of sorts then when I had loaded him…and the last thing I wanted for him was a bad experience…but as we reached the stall I suddenly realized what was wrong with him.

He had to pee.

Apparently he had been holding it all-day-long.

Sometimes the things our horses need to learn to do when traveling…are the little things 🙂


I’ve owned Presto now for four years. He has grown so much and I’m finally ready to start sharing his adventures. You can find all of his posts on my website (stacywestfall.com)
What questions do you have for me about Presto?
#PressonRegardless #Presto #Equithrive

2 Comments

  1. Colleen Spada on July 6, 2020 at 8:52 am

    Excellent article! Thank you for sharing. You are always spot on!

  2. Martina Brown on June 29, 2020 at 10:14 pm

    Aww poor Presto,. He was probably waiting all day to use the bathroom. 🙂 I agree with your philosophy about trailering. Very good point!

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