Whinny’s Guide to Keeping Horses Cool on the Road

Whinny’s Guide to Keeping Horses Cool on the Road

Whinny’s Wisdoms

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Now, I, Whinny, wouldn’t claim to be an expert on horses. After all, I’m just a field mouse who’s taken up residence in a cozy corner of Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic. But between the hushed whispers of the vets and the whinnies of incoming patients, I’ve picked up a thing or two about these creatures. With summer coming, one topic kept cropping up – trailering in the heat.

Apparently, just like that shiny metal box humans call a car, the inside of a horse trailer can turn into a furnace on a hot day. Horses, unlike us nimble mice, can’t exactly pop open a window for some fresh air. And that’s where trouble starts.

Here’s the thing: horses sweat to cool down, just like humans. But unlike us, they need good airflow for that sweat to evaporate and keep them comfortable. Stuck in a stuffy trailer, that sweat just sits there, making things even hotter. My doctors say it can be 20 degrees hotter inside the trailer compared to outside – yikes!

And that’s not all. Did you know horses can’t cough properly with their heads held high? Imagine having a tickle in your throat but being unable to bend over and clear it! Apparently, the jostling of the trailer can send dust and hay bits flying, making a cough crucial. If the trailer doesn’t have enough space for a good head-low cough (or their head is tied too high), that tickle can turn into a serious respiratory problem down the road.

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Speaking of down the road, even short trips can be stressful for horses. Studies, the kind my doctors love to quote, show that even a four-hour journey can send a horse’s stress levels through the roof. Their cortisol (the stress hormone) goes up, and their immune system takes a dive – not exactly ideal for facing new environments.

So, what can we do to help horses stay cool and comfortable on their summer adventures? Well, for starters, ventilation is key. Open all those vents and windows on the trailer, anything to get some air circulating. Think of it like my little burrow – nice and cool with plenty of fresh air coming through. If you can safely lock the dutch doors open, that’s even better. Just make sure you put a fly mask on them to protect their eyes from flying bits!

Whinny Wisdom: If the roof/ceiling of your trailer isn’t insulated, you might consider having some sort of insulation installed. There are several ways to do this, depending on how your trailer is designed. Spray foam, boards or panels, and liners are all options you can ask your local trailer shop about. An insulated roof makes an incredible difference in internal temperature. A good rule of thumb: if you can’t put your thumb on the ceiling of your trailer on a hot afternoon without getting burned, it needs some insulation!

Next up – water, water, water! Horses need to stay hydrated to regulate their body temperature. Frequent stops are a must, not just for filling up the gas tank but also for offering your equine friend a good long drink. A hose down might be appreciated too if possible.

Now, I may be a mouse, but even I know that ice melts. That whole trick of putting ice on the trailer floor to cool things down? Turns out, it’s a myth! The ice might cool the floor a bit, but it won’t do much for the overall temperature. Think of it like putting an ice cube in a hot cup of cocoa – sure, the ice itself will be cold, but the cocoa will still be steaming. Also, heat rises and cold sinks, so that’s a basic physics calculation.

There’s more to consider, of course. Trailer shade is important – parking under a tree or using a sunshade can make a big difference. Light-colored trailers absorb less heat, so that might be something to keep in mind for future trailer purchases (although, let’s be honest, that’s not exactly a quick fix).

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Here’s a bonus tip I overheard my doctors mention – electrolytes! These are like magic potions for horses, helping them replenish what they lose through sweat. A little electrolyte paste before the trip and some offered during rest stops can go a long way in keeping them feeling their best.

Remember, a happy horse is a healthy horse. By taking these precautions and planning your trip for cooler hours if possible, you can ensure your horse arrives at their destination safe, sound, and ready for new adventures. And that, from this little field mouse’s perspective, is a win-win situation!

So, there you have it! A crash course in keeping horses cool on the road, all from the perspective of a very curious field mouse. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some delicious crumbs waiting on me.

Until next week,

P.S. Our YouTube Channel is packed with great veterinary videos! There’s something for every horse owner, no matter what kind of horse you have! Make sure you like and subscribe so you don’t miss future videos 😊

Whinny’s Wisdoms is the official blog of Whinny the Clinic Mouse at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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More Adventures of the Horse Doctor's Husband
Trailer Safety 101

Trailer Safety 101

Tuesdays with Tony

It will never cease to amaze me that horses willingly get into those dark boxes you humans call horse trailers and rattle along down the road. I’ve seen a few protests, but with a little training, encouragement, and some food, they comply and walk right on. You just try getting me into a cat carrier that easily! Since your horse trusts you enough to go against his natural instincts and get into that tin can, we’re going to discuss some very important safety tips to make sure you take good care of him while trailering. From loading to unloading and everything in between, there are opportunities everywhere for things to go wrong.

Before the trip

The most important thing, whether you are planning on hauling a horse around the country or around the corner, is to make sure your trailer is in good working order. Maintaining the functionality of your trailer is critical to the ease and safety of transport.

Inspecting the floor of your trailer is an essential part of trailer ownership. If you have floor mats, pull them up regularly and check underneath. Look for wood rot, rust, holes, and broken welds. Areas of weakness increase the risk of your horse falling through the floor. As you can imagine, a leg through the floor can result in a life-ending injury.

Next, be sure to check your door latches and hinges for any pieces that may be rusty, loose, or missing. As a cat who manages a vet clinic, I see way too many lacerations sustained on horse trailers. Please also check the interior of your trailer for screws or other sharp things that your horse could find to hurt himself on.

Check your trailer brakes, as well as brake lights, taillights, and turn signals before heading out. There could easily be a short in the wiring even if you just drove it yesterday. I see so many trailers come through the clinic with the lights not working. That’s just begging to get rear-ended, which doesn’t end well for the horse.

It’s always good to do a “circle of safety” just before driving away with your trailer. A circle of safety is where starting at the driver’s side door, you walk ALL the way around your truck and trailer until you return to that door, looking for anything amiss. Make sure you kick every tire, and make sure your spare is still inflated. Under-inflated tires are the #1 reason for blowouts, and blowouts are the #1 reason for trailers flipping over. A small air compressor is a lot cheaper than new tires! Look for dry rot, even if your tires aren’t old. The Florida sun is one of my favorite things. I love basking in it while taking my morning, midday and afternoon naps, but it sure is hard on tires when it comes to dry rot.

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I highly recommend yearly maintenance by trailer professionals. Your wheel bearings should be repacked once a year – when was that last done? Has your trailer’s emergency brake battery been checked to make sure it will stop your trailer if it were to become detached from your truck? Maintaining a safe trailer in good working condition will reduce the risk of accidents and make for smoother hauling of your most precious cargo.


As you know, horses like to injure themselves or colic at the most inopportune times. It’s often necessary to transport your horse to a clinic or hospital for treatment. During an emergency is not the time to be teaching your horse how to load or unload.

Spend time in your usual day-to-day training teaching your horse to load and unload calmly and quietly. Take time to make sure that your horse is comfortable loading and unloading in all different conditions. Weather and time of day/night can affect your horse’s willingness to get on the trailer. Practicing trailer loading/unloading in normal circumstances will help to ensure your horse remains calm while loading in times of urgency.

What should your horse be wearing?

The first choice is whether or not to tie your horse. There are positives and negatives to both schools of thought, but also some firm rules.

When your horse is loose in the trailer, he can maneuver and stabilize himself in whichever way he feels safest. He can also lower his head and neck more easily which allows him to rest while on a long ride. Lowering his head can help to reduce the chance of a respiratory infection because he can clear his nostrils of dust, dirt, mucus, and germs when he coughs or sneezes. Tying your horse’s head high prevents this very normal behavior and may result in a sick horse.

Some very small horses or ponies might be at risk of turning around in the straight stall of a trailer if they are left loose, or they may find themselves under a bar or panel where they could get injured by another horse. However, most horses find comfort in a bag of hay in front of them and the ability to move around as necessary.

If you do choose to tie your horse, make sure you use a method that can be easily released in case of a problem. My favorite method is to hang “Blocker Tie-Rings” in the trailer and use those to attach the lead rope. These tie rings allow a horse to pull slack in the lead rope if he panics or falls. Similarly, they are quick release if you need to free him fast. You may also choose to use a quick release knot when tying your horse. Whichever method you decide on, make sure the lead rope and any extra equipment is secured safely out of the reach of your horse.

Possibly the most important thing to remember when tying your horse in the trailer is what type of halter you use. Please, listen to this old cat on this one. Please, please, please put your horse in a leather halter, or at the very least, a break-away halter. Halters that don’t break, including rope halters, are incredibly dangerous whether your horse is tied or not. If a horse slips and falls or there is an accident, and your horse is tied with a rope halter or one that doesn’t break, you risk him breaking his back or neck. Similarly, if your horse is in the trailer and has a halter on that is not breakable, you risk him getting caught on a part of the trailer, panicking and injuring himself. And if your trailer is on its side or upside down, it can be nearly impossible to get them out if they are too securely attached. The longer it takes to get them out, the more they will suffer, and the less likely they are to survive. Trust me, this is something that is so easy and can prevent CATastrophe.

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I’m a big believer in putting wraps or boots on your horse’s legs for trailering. Horse legs are soooo delicate and they have almost no cushioning over the important bones and tendons. Remember, it doesn’t matter if your horse is good at trailering and you’re a good driver, because someone else on the road who’s not so careful can still cause a wreck. You can use old-school standing wraps or modern shipping boots. Boots are super quick and easy to apply. They’re basically fool-proof and offer good protection. Get your horse used to wraps or boots before attempting them for a trailer ride though.

Positioning in the trailer

If you have a straight-load trailer, you always want to load the heavier horse on the driver’s side. If you’re only hauling one horse, he should likewise go on the driver’s side. The reason behind this has to do with the pitch, or slant, of the road. When paved, the road is actually taller in the middle than at the shoulder. If you were to put the heavier load on the passenger side, the combination of the pitch of the road and the uneven weight would cause the trailer to pull hard to the right. And if the tires on that side go off the pavement, having all the weight on that side can cause a rollover.

If you have a slant load, the heaviest horse should go at the front (closest to your truck), to reduce the chance of your trailer fishtailing out of control.

Think safety first

When driving your trailer, practice defensive driving at all times. It seems today fewer and fewer people on the road understand trailer safety, so you have to be extra cautious. Give yourself more than enough stopping distance. Take turns slow and wide. Leave extra time and don’t speed. And my personal favorite: don’t pull in anywhere you aren’t sure you can get your trailer out of!

At rest stops, check your horse to make sure everything is hunky-dory. Remember to offer your horse water when you stop, to prevent colic on a long trip. I recommend always carrying extra water with you while you are shipping your horse. You may be going five minutes away or five hours away, but either way, extra water is very important. A trailer on the side of the road full of horses can get dangerously hot very quickly.

Carry a first aid kit and an extra halter and lead rope in a safe, easily accessible place. For more info on packing a good first aid kit, see one of my First Aid blogs.

I could keep giving you Tony Trailer Tips all day, but a cat’s gotta nap. I think the most important thing to remember is that you have some very precious cargo onboard! So do your work before you ask your horse to step on the trailer so you can enjoy safe travels and good rides!

Until next week,


P.S. The humans made a really good video about trailering. You can watch it here. While you’re on my YouTube Channel, make sure you subscribe and check out all the other great videos!

Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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More Adventures of the Horse Doctor's Husband
Trailer Shopping

Trailer Shopping

Tuesdays with Tony

You may have noticed Dr. Vurgason and her horse Smokey galavanting around town in their new horse trailer. Now who do you think Dr. V asked for advice about which horse trailer to get? That’s right- the one and only Tony! After all, I spend most of my day every day watching various makes and models of horse trailer pull around this office building. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the very ugly! As a result, I consider myself quite the expert.

As a vet clinic cat, you shouldn’t be surprised that the first thing I’m going to tell you to consider in a horse trailer is safety. Now I’m all for buying a used trailer—that’s definitely how you’re going to find the best deal—however, you do need to make sure it’s safe. Look at and ask about the floors. Pull up any mats and check the condition of the boards or metal underneath. You also want to check out the tires and see if they are ready to be replaced. If your tire were to go flat during a haul, it could cause a serious accident. In addition, be sure to look and feel inside every square inch of that trailer for sharp things—because we all know how good horses are at seeking those out!

I would strongly recommend having a used trailer professionally inspected before purchase. Heck even if you’re not buying a new trailer it’s not a bad idea to get your Old Faithful checked out about once a year. After all, you’re going to be hauling a live animal in that thing, not just a sofa or something! The pros will make sure all your welds are strong, your hinges aren’t too rusty, and your floors are in good condition. One more word on safety, then I’ll get off my cat box: you should never have any loose items in the trailer when you are hauling a horse. So if you are planning on hauling anything in addition to your horse (hay bales, tack trunks, jump poles, barrels, buckets, etc.) consider a trailer with a separate tack room or floor-to-ceiling dividers between stalls.

The next most important thing for us Floridians to consider in a horse trailer is air flow. There are several different options horse trailer manufacturers use to achieve some air movement inside those hot metal boxes. These range from sliding windows, to open slats (especially in stock trailers), to drop-down windows. The air flow inside a trailer can be further supplemented by front or ceiling air vents, built-in fans, or even air conditioning! Now even the coolest, most open stock trailer is going to get pretty toasty if you pack enough horses in there. So, remember to consider your packing density and the climate when selecting a trailer.

Now as long as the trailer is safe and cool enough that your horse isn’t going to overheat, the rest just comes down to personal preference—of both you and your horse. I’ll tell you from my observations at the clinic, horses are a bit claustrophobic; they don’t like walking into small, narrow, dark spaces. So if you have a young horse or one who might not be the best at loading, you may want a trailer that opens completely in the back, and is very bright and inviting. There is much debate on whether horses prefer to load on a ramp or a step-up; my cat conclusion is that horses like what they are used to. With the right combination of patience, treats, and training, any horse will load on any trailer.

There are a couple more items to consider when selecting your dream trailer. Perhaps most importantly, how much can your vehicle tow? Remember that you need to add the weights of each horse plus the weight of the trailer, and that weight should be well below the maximum towing capacity for your vehicle. Almost all new trailers are aluminum, which is much lighter than the older models. However, some people report the aluminum trailers are less robust and less sturdy than their older counterparts.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

In general with horse trailers, the old saying ‘you get what you pay for’ is true. If one brand is less expensive than another, it is probably more cheaply made, and thus may not hold up as well or last as long as a more expensive trailer of a more reputable brand. Also keep in mind if you are ever planning on selling your trailer that the more expensive big-name brand trailers tend to hold their value better.

Hopefully I’ve given you some things to consider before your next major trailer purchase. Now all you need is another horse to haul in it, right?

Don’t forget to come out to my annual Piggy Ice Cream Social this Saturday from 10:00-noon. Whether you own a pet pig or not, believe me you don’t want to miss this entertaining event!

Until next week,


Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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Trailer Safety – Help Your Horse Arrive Alive

Trailer Safety – Help Your Horse Arrive Alive

Tuesdays with Tony

Pumpkin Spice is back, therefore Fall is coming someday, right? I know, this is Florida. Fall will be here briefly in late October, and maybe some of November, with bits of the FaWinSpri season continuing through until March. FaWinSpri is a unique Florida season. It’s the time of year when it could be Fall, Winter, or Winter, Spring at any moment over a 24 hour period. Once April comes, you have to add in Summer since that can start happening too. Why my musings on seasons? Well, around September, horse people in Florida start their delusions of cooler weather is coming, I better start getting back in shape. This week we’re going to talk about something else that should be ready for cooler riding weather: the horse trailer.


The Horse Trailer Floor


Everyone knows the floor should be checked, but how many of you actually do it? Take out all the mats and do a thorough inspection. If you have a wood floor, lightly tap all over the floor with a hammer to be sure there are no hidden spots of rot. For aluminum floors, check very closely for pitting. Take this opportunity to wash the floor thoroughly and let it dry completely before replacing the mats. Want to really, really help your floor? Clean your trailer after every use. All that manure and urine produces compounds which do serious harm to any kind of trailer floor.

This horse went through the floor of a trailer. Yeah, it can really happen.

Surgery on Coby, the horse who fell through a trailer floor


The Tires


Check the condition and air pressure of your tires. A visual inspection to look for dry rot is great, but a knock with a crowbar will give you a better idea about your tire’s health. Also, splurge $1.99 for an air pressure gauge, and be sure you get one that goes all the way to 100 psi. Trailer tires often require higher pressure than regular car tires. Don’t forget to check both of your spare tires! Want to make those tires last longer? Park on a concrete pad and cover them so they stay out of the sun. While you’re checking air pressure and condition, check your lug nuts. Make sure they are all tight. 

Speaking of lug nuts, be prepared to undo them as well if you have a flat tire. Pro Tip: Look for a piece of pipe that will fit over your lug wrench, and keep it in the tack room. This will help you get extra leverage when you’re trying to loosen those pesky nuts, while sitting on the side of the road, while stressing about your horse, and the traffic is whizzing by you. Oh those ramp things: trailer aid tire ramps. Ahhmazing. Get one now. Here’s another Pro Tip: tires that explode on the highway are usually under-inflated. Tire pressure is important.

horse trailer safety


Lights, camera, action


This one is going to take two people. Check your lights. Make sure both turn signals, your 4-way flashers, and your brake lights work. You’ve put your most valuable possession (besides your cat) in the trailer, now make sure everyone can tell you’re stopping so you don’t get rear-ended. If your lights don’t work, get them fixed! Keep spare light bulbs with you at all times. This is the easiest fix in the world, and it’s far cheaper than a new horse and a new trailer. Asking those around to guess which way you’re going, or if you’re stopping, doesn’t work any better with a truck and trailer than it does in a crowded warm up arena.  




Take the time to go over your hitch on your towing vehicle. If you have a gooseneck, get under the truck and do a visual inspection of the hitch. If you have a bumper pull, you get to do a visual inspection of the hitch, too. You also need to check the ball where it attaches to the hitch. The nut on the bottom can loosen over time. Give it a good check with a wrench to be sure it’s seated tightly.


Details, Details, Details


Keeping the little things taken care of on your trailer will prevent them from becoming big things. That door latch that’s not working quite right will become a liability when the door suddenly won’t close as you’re trying to pack up to head home at 9 pm. It’s also easy to let the little things pile up. Then you take the trailer in for repairs and get hit with a huge bill all at once. Doing repairs as needed will prevent that huge bill, especially leaks! Even if everything is great on your trailer, take it to a trusted repair shop every few years for a once-over. They can spot things you may not even realize were a problem!

Good riding weather will come. Get your trailer ready so you can take advantage of every precious moment it!

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Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!

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