|Packing for a long haul requires a bit more thought!|
I have since driven south two more times - once to Morven Park in Virginia and once to the Kentucky Horse Park via the Plains, Virginia going down and Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania coming back. I can now tell you I will never take a horse trailer through NYC and over the GW Bridge ever again (until I do because sometimes you just have to do these things). My biggest issue with that route isn't even the city. I hated, and I mean HATED, driving a horse trailer on the New Jersey Turnpike (95 South). The road is awful, bumpy and loud. There are a ton of rest stops but they're crowded. Driving that way was super stressful.
So my first piece of advice in planning a long distance haul is plan a good route. Ask EVERYONE who has ever hauled horses and give preference to good roads over shorter distances. The route I now take to Virginia is about an hour longer but so much more pleasant. It also skips all the cities on the Eastern seaboard so I'm not sure that it really does take any longer to go that way. I manage to stay on really nice roads the whole way - smooth surfaces, minimal traffic. Driving from Boston to Maryland/ Virginia we now take 90 (Mass Pike) to 84 South to either 81 South - this is definitely the longer route but if you don't have a navigator to help you it's simple to follow - or we take 84 to 87 to 287 to 78 to 81. Google maps doesn't really suggest this unless you force it but it is an excellent way to go.
My second piece of advice is to pay attention to where you can stop for gas and food. Going the roundabout way with no cities can mean good stopping points are hard to come by. We like to stop about every 3 - 4 hours. You have to be careful not to drive into a long stretch of desolation without a plan and more than once we've gotten off to get gas only to find that the gas station is not really horse trailer friendly. So if you can plan ahead, do.
The third piece of advice is to plan ahead for a layover if you drive is going to be more than 10 hours. Ask around. Your friends probably know of a place that will work for your route. There is a phone book of places that provide layover stabling. I saw it somewhere once but I can't remember what it was called. There is a great website called Horse Motel. I've now used 3 places on that website and they have all been wonderful. I encourage you to find something in the general vicinity of where you need to be and then call and ask lots of questions about the stalls, if they can give you an hour of turnout, if you need to clean the stall before you leave, if they have water buckets or you need yours, etc. The timing of arrival at your layover may not be ideal but choosing the good layover is more important than your drive time. For instance, if my drive is 18 hours and my layover isn't exactly half way, I prefer to drive further on the first day but that isn't always possible.
As far as the horses are concerned, it actually isn't that big of a deal. My daughter's horse is a really
|On our way to cross the Canadian border!|
Many horses don't eat or drink on the trailer and many don't like to pee in the trailer so the longer the haul, the longer such horses go without these things. Other horses relish the chance to chow down for a long road trip. My limited experience has taught me not to worry too much. I like cutting up the drive to 10 hours at a time because it makes me feel better that after 10 hours our horse will get to eat and drink and move around.
Which reminds me, you do not stop and take the horses off the trailer! The horses are fine. When we stop for gas we open the door to check on them, offer them some water, change blankets if necessary and then we close the door and hit the road again.
|On our first long haul we hung a water bucket for Quizz.|
Food is about the same as water. Make sure they have plenty of nice hay, offer something yummy
|We offer very wet alfalfa cubes each stop.|
And speaking of stress, we do give our horses UlcerGard before, during and after travel. Consult your vet for the best treatment for your horse. We start at least one to three days ahead, depending on the level of stress we anticipate, and continue through the first full day at home. It has worked extremely well for Quizz.
I hope you have a good co-pilot. It's nice to have someone to talk to and someone to search for a good stopping point while your driving not to mention having someone to look at the written directions you brought along since you can't trust your navigation system. I also like to get a few books on CD from the library. I get a few because some of them are terrible but if you hit on a good one it definitely helps keep you awake. We also found some good podcasts. Most recently we discovered Heels Down Happy Hour. I highly recommend it to get you through a long drive.
US Rider which is like AAA for non-commercial people hauling a horse trailer. AAA happened to be close by with a spare truck and I had options for places within 100 miles I could take the horses but we were worried about getting to Kentucky. In the end, it was an easy fix on the road. A hose had come loose and the guy from AAA reattached and tightened it. I yelled at my Ford dealer when I got back. And I really am lucky it happened where it did rather than the next day as we drove through the mountains.
When you get back from a long haul you really should pull the mats out of your trailer and clean it
Soon we are heading off on another adventure! Elizabeth and I are taking both our horses to Aiken, South Carolina, for ten weeks for winter training. Other than concern that winter weather could prevent our departure, we feel pretty well equipped to handle the task. This will be our first long haul with two horses so I'm a little concerned about weight and hope the girls can tolerate each other for 18 hours.