Do you feed hay in your trailer?

Easy fill hay net from SmartPak
Is filling up your hay net part of your trailering routine?

I’ve always shipped my horse with hay — and usually with either shavings or straw on the trailer floor. However, recently I was reading a forum post where several people indicated they did not trailer with either hay or shavings. The main reason was that hay and shavings can blow around while the trailer is moving and, at least in most trailers, the horse is not able to stretch or lower his head to clear his respiratory tract.

Of course on the “pro” side of feeding hay is that it keeps your horse occupied and gives their stomachs a buffer if they are the nervous type. When I got Freedom he was terrible in the trailer — if the trailer stopped for even a minute he would weave so badly that the whole trailer shook. I remember the day I brought him home I stopped to get lunch and the trailer was parked outside a McDonald’s. It was shaking and swaying like crazy and I noticed people giving it a wide berth.

Once he started to eat hay I knew he was calming down.  Now he’ll scarf down a whole bag of hay (I use a hay bag rather than a hay net) on the way to and from a hunt (about 40 minutes total). With him, I can imagine that not having hay might make him fret.

Floor coverings are a trickier issue. My big Trakehner, Kroni, once fell in the trailer giving me a heck of a scare (Trailering safety: a near miss). We were trailering back from the end of the season hunt and it was cold out. Best I can tell, he peed in the trailer and the shavings froze. He slipped, fell, went under the dividing bar and stood up on the other side. While I had shavings in the trailer, I didn’t have that many. I was very, very lucky that he didn’t get hurt! Now I generally use old hay/straw to absorb pee. I think it’s a lot less dusty, too.

One suggestion that I read was to ship your horse with a fly mask on to prevent debris from getting into their eyes. I think that’s an excellent idea which I think I’ll adopt.

So what does everyone else do? Hay or no hay? Hay bags or nets? Shavings or not? Let me know!

8 thoughts on “Do you feed hay in your trailer?

  1. I use a small mesh hay bag – the hay doesn’t blow around. If a horse isn’t drinking well, I do limit the amount of hay to avoid impaction colic. I use pelleted wood bedding in the trailer – it’s less dusty than shavings and doesn’t tend to become airborne. I like lots of ventilation, and if it’s warm enough I run with the windows down but bars up – they can’t stick their heads out – and have fly masks on my horses – mainly to keep them from being hit by bugs or loose stones or gravel that might get thrown up from the road. I once had a horse break the window in her slot with her head – she’d been kicking and got a leg over the partition and fell into the window in getting herself free. Glass went everywhere and having a fly mask on saved her from getting cut up or having an eye injury.

  2. I have a haybag in the trailer, because I want my horse to eat like a pig while she’s in there. Right now she just picks at it but hopefully she’ll learn to eat in there one day. I use a haybag clipped in place with a super-cheap carabiner – if she does somehow manage to get her head or foot caught in it, the carabiner will break. (See, cheap crap from China does have its uses!)

    A lot of endurance people think that shavings make a trailer more slippery than just mats. My horse doesn’t pee in the trailer, and my mats are very grippy, so I don’t use shavings.

    I do have a flymask in my tack room, which I don’t remember to put on often enough. :-/

  3. I like to use cubes in a manger type trailer so they don’t have the stuff blowing around their face. I use a hay net where there is room. I nearly always give them something to eat. I did have one horse who never ate while on the road so I quit trying to feed him. I don’t do shavings because of the wind whipping them around but I think they are a good idea, the larger trailers seem to be quieter inside so it would work there. I mostly go on very short drives so it is not a big deal. On a long trip I think deep bedding and a fly mask sounds like the way to go.

  4. I train my animals with several short trips and a leader horse in the trailer and without hay … they get used to traveling on longer trips just fine. Of course, I do make pit stops and let them eat and drink while I enjoy stretching my driving legs and a meal for myself. Bedding pellets over the mats are my choice in stalls and trailers. Fly masks are great for eye guards and I do like a head protector!

  5. I try to feed hay, no matter the length of trip. I use corner feeders in a slant load, which sit low. They take up space, but still leave enough room to lower their heads. I don’t put bedding in the trailer, but not really because of increased dust. Even if nothing actually gets stuck between/underneath mats, I’d worry…and find myself rearranging mats to check. Fly masks go on if the windows are down (with bars up), but may reconsider doing that as a routine.

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