The Long Haul

Before you hit the road for a lengthy trip, get answers to the 10 questions most often asked about trailering horses long distances.

You just learned about your big promotion—greater responsibility, more money…and a move across the country. Or maybe you learned that you qualified for your first championship show…which requires a cross-country haul. Perhaps you’ve been invited on a once-in-a-lifetime trail ride…that’s a few thousand miles from home.

If you’re like most horse owners, these kinds of excursions are no big deal by airplane without your horse. But hauling your horse that many miles? Now that’s another story.

Even if your horse is a seasoned traveler, there’s a big difference between trailering to shows and rides in the neighboring town and traveling across the country—or to another country. In this article, I’ll explain how a long trip impacts your horse’s health and the risks he’ll face. Then I’ll answer the 10 most common questions I hear from my clients about long-distance hauling to help you minimize risk when planning your trip.

Transport Stress: What Happens?

Most studies confirm that the longer your horse spends on the road, the greater the threat to his well-being. Trips less than three hours in duration are unlikely to cause transport-related diseases. At the 12-hour mark, risks increase dramatically. So what exactly happens in your horse’s body to create that risk?

From the moment you load your horse in the trailer, his body responds by releasing the stress hormone cortisol into his blood stream. Cortisol levels continue to increase for the duration of travel, and may take 24 hours or longer to return to normal once he arrives at his destination. Cortisol has multiple effects on your horse’s body that can increase his risk for transport-related diseases. In general, it stimulates “act now” emergency mechanisms and shuts down less-immediately-critical functions of the body.

One of the most significant impacts of cortisol is its impact on your horse’s immune system. Specifically, the ratio of neutrophils to lymphocytes (two different types of white blood cells circulating in your horse’s system) increases in response to cortisol. This leaves your horse less able to fight infection and at risk of developing shipping fever, a potentially life-threatening respiratory infection that progresses rapidly once it starts. Signs of shipping fever can appear soon as four to six hours after departure, and this disease occurs in as many as six-percent of long-duration hauls.

Your horse also becomes dehydrated during transport because he drinks less, eats less, and sweats more. Dehydration increases risk for colic, as well as other metabolic abnormalities that can threaten your horse’s health.

Finally, long-distance travel puts strenuous demands on your horse’s musculoskeletal system. Blood tests show increases in creatine phosphokinase (CPK) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST), two enzymes that are released from the muscles, following transport. This indicates your horse’s muscles are working hard to help him keep his balance while riding in the trailer. It takes 24 hours or longer for these values to return to baseline levels, leaving your horse stiff and sore following a trip.

Your Top 10 Long-Haul Questions, Answered

Question #1

Is it better if I haul him myself, or should I use a commercial shipper?

When you buy a new horse from a distant seller or are moving your horse to new barn in another state, you might consider a commercial shipper. That is, a professional who hauls horses and other livestock cross-country for a fee. These haulers often drive bigger rigs that provide a smoother ride and more space for your horse—think box stalls—than your own trailer, and have multiple drivers that can result in a more efficient trip.

Commercial rigs may be better insulated to protect your horse from extreme heat or cold, have fans for optimal ventilation, and might even be equipped with video cameras that allow your horse to be monitored at all times. Tempting option, for sure. That said, if you go commercial, select your shipper carefully. Look for a company that hires experienced horsemen as drivers (versus truck drivers with little or no horse experience) who can keep a close watch on your precious cargo. Ask how often the trucks will stop to rest and how they manage feed and watering schedules. Finally, beware of any commercial shipper who tells you they’re not worried about health papers that comply with interstate-travel requirements. You don’t want to find your horse in a jam halfway across the country.

Question #2

What about flying? Is it an option I should consider?

You might be surprised to learn that horses are the most frequent fliers next to humans. A three- to five-day trip across the country in a truck can be accomplished in a single day of air travel. There’s no doubt about it—flying is an option that can be much easier on your horse. Unfortunately, it’ll be harder on your pocketbook.

If you’re traveling to an important competition, one option to consider is to fly your horse to the competition to ensure he’ll be in the best possible condition when he arrives, then ship him home when he can have plenty of recovery time following the trip.

Question #3

What kind of paperwork do I need?

Paperwork requirements vary widely depending on your destination. As a general rule, you’ll need proof of a negative Coggin’s test that checks for antibodies for equine infectious anemia and a health certificate issued by your veterinarian within a specified amount of time (depending on the state). If you’re traveling out of the country, paperwork requirements become more complicated. Check with your veterinarian at least a month prior to your anticipated travel date so you can schedule tests and obtain the paperwork you need. While you’re at it, make sure your horse’s vaccinations are up-to-date—particularly against respiratory viruses such as influenza or rhinopneumonitis. It generally takes two to three weeks for vaccinations to be effective, so vaccinating at the time your vet comes out to do travel papers is likely to be perfect timing.

You might wonder: Do I really need these papers? If you’re traveling out of the country, you won’t get across a border without required papers. Period. If you’re traveling within the United States, you might make it across state lines, but law-enforcement officers look for vehicles with out-of-state license plates pulling horse trailers. There’s a good chance you’ll be pulled over at some point in your journey and asked for documentation. Fines are steep if you can’t produce required paperwork, so it really isn’t worth the risk.

Question #4

I’m hauling to a competition. How much time does my horse need to recover from the trip?

Plan at least one day of rest for a six- to 12-hour haul, and two to three days of rest for a trip that lasts longer than 12 hours. The average horse loses five to six percent of his body weight during a 24-hour trip due to a combination of dehydration and reduced feed intake. Although half of that weight loss is recovered within the first 24 hours of transit, it can take as long as seven days for your horse to fully recover. So if he’s facing a particularly long or difficult trip, plan at least a week before your horse will be completely back to normal.

Question #5

I’m traveling from an area where it’s cold to somewhere very hot. Should I body-clip my horse before we leave?

This might not be a concern in the summer months, but winter and spring shows can force horses to encounter major climate changes. Because of your horse’s large body size, he’s much more likely to be too hot than too cold. For that reason, body clipping prior to a journey that’ll take him from a cold climate to a warmer one is always a good idea.

Additionally, avoid blanketing during long-distance travel, especially if your horse will travel with other horses whose body heat will warm the trailer. Blankets not only run the risk of causing your horse to overheat, they can cause serious injuries if they slip or your horse becomes tangled in a strap. A well-insulated trailer will help protect your horse against outside temperature extremes (both hot and cold), and proper ventilation is a must. Consider installing fans if you’ll be traveling when it is very hot. (See “Trailer Innovations” on page 78 for the latest in trailer innovations for ventilation and cooling.)

If you’re hauling yourself, a strategic travel route and schedule can go a long way toward managing temperature concerns. Avoid southern routes during summer months, and try to travel during early-morning or evening hours—avoiding the extreme heat of afternoon.

Question #6

My vet told me it’s a bad idea to put bedding in my trailer, but all my friends insist I should. What’s the right answer?

Whether to bed your trailer is a tricky question—and the correct answer varies with your circumstances. Bedding is a potential source of respiratory irritants and can increase the risk for shipping fever—one of the deadliest potential complications of a long-distance haul. That’s why your vet recommends that you avoid bedding if you can. →

Bedding does, however, provide traction if your trailer floors are slippery and might make your horse more comfortable (especially if he’s one who refuses to urinate on a hard surface).

One thing is certain: If you do bed your trailer, use the least-dusty bedding material you can find, and consider spraying it lightly with water before you load up to help keep dust to a minimum.

Question #7

Should I wrap/use shipping boots on my horse’s legs for trailer trips?

Wraps or shipping boots can help protect your horse from injuries during loading and unloading, or from trauma during hauling. However, for a long-distance haul, boots and wraps can cause more problems than they solve if they loosen or fall off en route. The only time to bandage for a long-distance trip is if you’re hauling your horse yourself, stopping overnight, and planning to change bandages daily. You should also only apply boots or wraps if your horse is comfortable wearing them. If you’re traveling with a commercial hauler, leave boots and bandages at home.

Top Safety TipWhat’s the No. 1 thing you can do to ensure that your horse stays healthy and happy during a long haul? The same thing that’ll protect him from injury any time you travel: Training.
Spend time before your trip teaching him to load and unload, and make sure he’s comfortable in the trailer. Familiarize your horse with trailering in general to reduce his stress levels and his risk for injury. No amount of preparation can take the place of experience.

Question #8

Should I tie my horse in the trailer?

One of the best ways to protect your horse’s respiratory tract during a long-distance haul is to allow him to put his head down while he’s traveling. This means leaving him untied if your trailer will safely allow it. Ideally, he’ll have a box stall to travel in rather than a single compartment where he can move about at will and easily put his head down to eat. The availability of box stalls is one of the reasons why sending your horse with a commercial shipper might be better for his health than hauling him yourself. The extra costs associated with this luxury are usually dollars well spent.

Question #9

How often should I stop?

Your horse should have a 15- to 20-minute rest period every four to six hours during a long haul when the trailer is stopped and parked, ideally in a shaded area if it’s hot. During this rest period, offer water, replenish food supplies, and do a general safety check. If possible, it’s a great idea to pick out manure and urine spots to help keep air inside the trailer fresh. If you’re sending your horse with a commercial shipper, be sure to ask how often they stop to rest.

Question #10

My horse doesn’t drink very well, and is a picky eater away from home. Is there anything I can do to encourage him to drink and eat on the road?

Experienced haulers say your horse is more likely to drink after the trailer has been standing still for 15 to 20 minutes and he’s had a chance to rest, so keep this in mind. Always offer water at the end of a rest period. Consider soaking hay to encourage moisture intake, and offer a wet bran mash or beet pulp once or twice a day. Take water from home if you can so you’re your horse won’t be put off by unfamiliar flavors. If it’s not possible to bring water with you in the trailer, considering adding flavor (such as a couple of tablespoons of powdered lemonade or Kool-Aid) to his at home water source prior to your trip, then use it to mask the flavor of unfamiliar water on the road.

Winterizing your horse trailer.

It’s that time of year when we all start to ask ourselves, “how can it already be this time of year?!” Whether you spend the warmer months camping, attending horse shows, or both, it can feel like every winter arrives sooner than the last. Before you know it, the leaves are falling, temperatures and dropping, and it’s time to pack up the trailer for the season.

But don’t snuggle up with a mug of hot chocolate just yet.

If you want to jump back in your trailer with no hassle next spring, you’ll need to winterize it properly now. Below, we’ll walk you through five practical steps to winterize a trailer so you can prevent damage from ice, store your trailer safely, and rest easy all season.

5-Step Checklist to Winterize a Trailer

1. Drain water tanks and pumps
Ice is the enemy when it comes to winterizing your trailer. As water freezes, it expands and can blow open your tanks, pumps, and the lines that connect them.

So if your trailer is going to be exposed to temperatures below 32 degrees for any sustained period (even just a few hours overnight), make sure to drain all of the water out of your trailer’s tanks.

If you have a pump, you also need to run it for 10 seconds, after the tank is empty, to push out any lingering moisture.

2. Learn how to manually override your brake controller
It’s crucial to get familiar with your tow vehicle’s brake controller, no matter the season! The brake controller sits in your tow vehicle, and powers the trailer brakes whenever you press your foot on the brake pedal. If you haven’t already, read your brake controller manual and learn how to test your brake controller’s functionality.

The manual override is usually a “squeeze bar,” slide, or button on the brake controller box. It allows you to lock up your trailer brakes directly from the controller, without hitting your tow vehicle brakes.

If your trailer is going to be on cold roads at any point this winter–even if you’re just driving it home for the season–the manual override can help if you start skidding or sliding over ice or wet roads. The override will brake your trailer and yank your truck back, stopping the slide.

Note to drivers: avoiding icy roads altogether is also an important safety step! If you don’t absolutely need to take your trailer out in freezing temperatures, why risk it?

3. Get antifreeze service for trailer living quarters
For RVs, travel trailers, or any other trailer with living quarters, a professional can run antifreeze through the water pipes to protect them from cold temperatures.

This method to winterize a trailer generally involves hooking up a bypass line to avoid the hot water heater, draining moisture from all valves in the trailer, as well as other technical processes. It can be done once at the beginning of winter.

When you’re ready to take out the trailer again in the spring, your trailer professional can “de-winterize” it by flushing out the antifreeze.

However, if you’re planning to use your trailer’s living quarters (including the water systems) during the winter, then don’t winterize. Instead, keep the heat running when temperatures are near 32 degrees or lower to prevent water from freezing in the pipes.

4. Wash off road salt
Road salt is great for de-icing pavement and horrible for your trailer’s value.

Before stowing your trailer, wash the frame and undercarriage with hot water and soap to remove any dirt or road grease. If you have to use the trailer on salted roads, wash the frame and undercarriage thoroughly just as soon as you arrive home, to remove the road salt.

Power washing is most effective, and hot water works better than cold.

5. Cover your trailer and park it off grass
Your trailer is clean, drained, and winterized. Now you just need to store it safely for the season.

First, covering your trailer will protect it from the elements–but as we’ve discussed before, not any old trailer cover will do, especially for horse trailers. Standard horse trailer covers are generally manufactured too short so they leave tires, bearings, and fenders exposed. Instead, buy an RV trailer cover to protect your trailer from its tires to its roof. Find them online and order based on your trailer’s dimensions.

Second, avoid parking your trailer on grass. Grass traps moisture and pests, which can wreak havoc over the course of the winter. Look for a gravel, asphalt, or concrete parking spot. If you can’t find one, put wood planks over grass to park the trailer on.

For any questions about winterizing your trailer or truck please call us at 704-305-8268!

After the ride, trailer tips.

You’re headed back from your trail ride. You reach the trailer, unsaddle, brush off your horse, get him loaded, and head down the road. Twenty minutes! It’s a new record time.

This is exactly the behavior that gets riders in trouble. After a long day of riding, and especially after multiday trips, it’s tempting to hurry up and get on your way. When you do this, you create chaos. You hurriedly go through the motions and leave yourself open to forget important things, such as a saddle left on the ground. You overlook the once-over that ensures that your horse is injury-free and your equipment is in good repair.

Over time, your rushed process causes your horse to become anxious at the trailer, which makes your ride back more difficult and puts a sour tone on an otherwise-pleasant experience. Here I’ll share how you can make the post-ride trailer experience a safe and positive one.

Make a Checklist

At home, make a checklist before you leave on your trip. Include tack, an emergency kit, feed, buckets, and anything else you’ll need. Your emergency kit should include Banamine (as prescribed by your veterinarian) and bandage materials to treat minor cuts and scrapes until you make it to a vet.

After your ride, use your checklist to ensure that everything you’ve brought is accounted for and put away. If you break tack or lose a hoof boot, make note of it so you can replace it.


Trailering Tip #2: Keep a tidy, organized tack room in your trailer, with everything put away, so you don’t have to wrestle with your gear as you pack.

Jennifer Paulson

Post-Ride Anticipation

As you head back to your trailer, mentally prepare yourself so you don’t become overly anxious and affect your horse’s emotional state. If you get anxious your horse will, too. You don’t rush him through the trail ride; so don’t rush him headed home.

At the trailer, work your horse before you dismount; not into lather, but you don’t want him to think his job is over as soon as the trailer’s in sight. This thinking is what leads to the ride-home jig. Trot circles, bend, flex, back up, then walk him out. Make sure he’s cooled off, calm, and focused before you call it a day.

One Step at a Time

Before you load your horse, he should be relaxed and comfortable. If you rush him, he’ll feel as you do when you’re rushed in and out of an appointment—emotionally run-over. Instead, tie him to the trailer and loosen the cinch, but don’t get in a hurry to jerk the saddle off. Let him relax as you prep your tack room.

Organize your tack room so that when you take off your horse’s gear you don’t have to struggle to put it away. Hang up your bridle, pull out grooming supplies and water buckets, and make sure everything’s clean and ready to use.

Unsaddle your horse, then run your hands over his body to check for sore spots, broken hair, and other injuries. Then groom him thoroughly. I like to give my horse a liniment rubdown, which helps with muscle soreness. I also disinfect my cinches and hang them up exactly how I want to take them back down. This prevents girth itch and future skin irritation, and will make it easier to saddle next ride.

After your horse has cooled off, but before you load up, make water available. Offer it once, and don’t let him play in it. If you let him guzzle it, he can get a gut ache.


Trailering Tip #3: Complete a thorough check of your horse by rubbing your hands over his body after your ride to look for injuries.

Jennifer Paulson

Prep Your Trailer

Check your surroundings before you park your rig to give your horse the best opportunity possible to load and unload. Sometimes trailheads don’t give you many options. Choose the most level and least obstructed area possible.

After your ride, inspect your trailer and the load-up position. Not all trailers have good internal lights so bring a flashlight or head lamp if there’s a chance you’ll load up after dark. Lights in the door help illuminate the doorway. Though horses have great vision at night, they don’t seem to mind a little help.

Final Thoughts

Keep safety top of mind at each stage of your ride. Make sure you haul in a safe trailer, free of sharp edges, poor gate latches, and other hazards. Drive smoothly; don’t jerk around corners, slam on brakes, or accelerate abruptly. Be mindful of your horse’s experience, and you’ll avoid trailer balkiness, anticipation, and other unsavory post-ride troubles.

Trainer, clinician, and lifelong cowboy Ken McNabb hails from Lovell, Wyoming. He helps riders and horses build and enjoy partnerships working on the ranch and riding on the trail. His show, Discovering the Horseman Within, airs weekly on RFD-TV. Learn more about McNabb and find his clinic schedule at

Winter driving tips.

Winter is coming. For some of us winter is already here! USRider reminds everyone who travels with horses to be careful, and to invest time performing routine preventative trailer maintenance to enhance overall travel safety.

While it is imperative to maintain your vehicle according to the manufacturer’s service schedule, it is also important to take your vehicle to a trusted mechanic. This is especially crucial for heavy-duty vehicles towing precious cargo. It is better to be proactive rather than reactive.

USRider recommends that you check tire pressure before each trip. This is especially essential with temperature changes. If you are traveling from a warm climate to a cold climate, air pressure in your tires will drop. On the other hand, when traveling from a cold climate to a warm climate, the air pressure will rise.

During winter months, traction tires are recommended. In order to qualify as a traction tire, tires must have at least an eighth of an inch tread and be labeled Mud and Snow, M+S, All-Season, or have a Mountain/Snowflake symbol. Since tire performance can vary, a trusted area dealer may be able to advise you on the best tires for your vehicle and your area of the country. Plus, look at the date on the inside of the tire to be sure it has not been on the dealer shelf too long.

Another travel issue that could raise its ugly head during cold weather is a weak battery. If you have a battery that is more than a couple years old, be sure to check it prior to cold weather setting in. Otherwise, you may find yourself on a cold morning inconvenienced with a dead battery.

When driving, a good rule of thumb to follow on the road is “Rain, ice & snow – take it slow.” Before setting out on a trip, take time to check weather reports and plan accordingly. Be sure to allow extra time for inclement weather. Mother Nature doesn’t care that you need to be somewhere at a certain time. Keep in mind that weather and driving conditions can change rapidly, so be aware and drive accordingly.

During inclement weather, always drive with your headlights on- even if it is not dark. USRider recommends when trailering horses, owners drive with their headlights on, regardless of weather because of the increased visibility afforded by headlights.

Also during inclement weather, be sure to increase distance between vehicles to allow more stopping room. USRider recommends that you double the normal distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you.

Since it’s difficult to know what road conditions you may encounter during your trip, make it a practice to re-fuel when your vehicle fuel gauge drops below the halfway mark. In many states, you can dial 5-1-1 for travel conditions and road closures.


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Cold-Weather Horsekeeping: A Blanketing FAQ

Keep your four-legged friend comfortable this winter with savvy choices, common sense and a few good tips.

Your equine might be a real “clothes horse,” with blankets and sheets galore. But unless he watches the Weather Channel and can dress himself, you’re probably wondering what he should wear—and when—as the mercury plummets.

Or perhaps you’re confused about blanket sizing, how to tell when your horse is too cold (or too hot), how to foil equine Houdinis … the list goes on.

Here are answers to some common questions about equine outerwear.

When should I blanket?

There are many opinions on when to start and stop blanketing a horse, but a few agreed-upon basics. Generally you should blanket if your horse:

  • Is body-clipped and in active work during the cold months (when having a long coat would make it difficult to cool him out properly)
  • Is old, thin or ill, with a diminished resistance to illness
  • Has recently moved to a cold climate from a warm one
  • Lives outdoors in severe weather with minimal shelter

A good rule of thumb is to consider blanketing your horse when the temperature starts dropping below 50 degrees, and consider removing his outerwear when it climbs back up above that mark. Remember, too, that wind and freezing rain are particularly hard on equines.

What types of blanket does my horse need?

hen planning your horse’s outfits, keep an eye on the forecast—but be prepared to change his clothes!

Most equine wardrobes start with a lightweight stable sheet or blanket for daytime wear and a heavier stable blanket for nighttime. Investing in several sheets and blankets of various weights allows you to stay flexible and rotate them when they need cleaning.

If your horse spends much time outdoors, sturdy turnout gear is a must. Look for sheets and blankets with an outer shell that is both waterproof and “breathable” to keep the rain off without trapping perspiration.

To determine the relative warmth of a sheet or blanket, check the amount of insulating polyfill (usually expressed in terms of grams) and the garment’s temperature rating. Blanket liners and hoods offer added protection against the elements.

As with your own clothing, think in terms of layers. When the temperatures fluctuate, as often happens during the autumn and spring, putting a sheet on your horse with a mid-weight blanket over it is a practical alternative to using a single heavy blanket. When you layer in this fashion, you can simply remove the outer layer(s) when the weather warms a bit.

You might also consider using a quarter sheet under your saddle when exercising your horse. This allows his back muscles to adjust gradually from the warmth of a blanket to the colder temperatures outside as he gets moving. After your ride, throwing a cooler over your horse could prevent him from catching a chill while cooling down.

What size blankets, sheets, etc. should I buy for my horse?

Because your horse might live in one form of outerwear or another all season, a good fit is essential. A blanket that is too small will cause rubbing, chafing and sore spots on the withers, chest or hips. By the same token, a blanket that’s too big is prone to slipping and twisting, which can lead to tangling and injury.

Blanket sizes are generally the measurement, in inches, from the center of the horse’s chest back to his tail. When a horse falls between sizes, it’s usually best to round up.

A blanket that fits a horse well covers his barrel and hangs below his elbows and stifles without overwhelming him. Big-bodied individuals, such as warmbloods, might require a slightly larger size, while horses with unusually high withers will benefit from cutback styles. Shoulder darts, forwardly-placed side gussets, fleece or foam padding at the withers and spacious tail flaps are features designed to improve fit and comfort while decreasing the likelihood of rubbing.

For safety’s sake, adjust each surcingle loosely enough to slide your flat hand under it, but no looser. Hind-leg straps—removable, elasticized ones are best—should be slack without hanging down to the hocks. For added security, criss-cross them or run one through the other.

How do I know whether my horse is too hot or too cold in his sheet, blanket, etc.?

A blanket that’s too heavy for the weather can cause overheating, which leads to sweating. This traps moisture against the skin, which can lead to unhealthy chilling. Check for dampness by routinely slipping a hand under the blanket in the areas of the girth and flanks.

A horse that’s too cold shivers. A lot. This might happen because he got wet under a too-heavy blanket, and then became chilled; or because he’s inadequately blanketed (or has inadequate shelter) for the conditions. A horse that is turned out can warm up by moving, but he can’t gallop around forever. Any sustained reduction in core body temperature makes a horse more vulnerable to illness.

Ouch! How do I prevent static “zap” when blanketing?

It’s not fun when you go to remove a horse’s blanket and both of you get “zapped” by static electricity. This is common during dry winter weather and can make your horse leery of his blankets!

One old trick is to rub a dryer sheet—the kind that reduces static cling in your clothes—over your horse’s back before blanketing him. You might also try spraying the inside of his blanket and the surface of his grooming brushes with a static guard product

Increasing the moisture content of your horse’s coat (without actually dousing him with water) can also help. To achieve this, use humectant-type shampoos and conditioners, or spritz a light coat polish on his hair before blanketing.

Another alternative: Consider purchasing polar fleece horse clothing made with a special anti-static technology.

My horse (or his pasturemate) chews (or rips, or removes) his blanket. What should I do?

Horse blankets are expensive, so having to address more than the usual wear and tear can be frustrating. Turnout sheets and blankets are especially susceptible to destruction and outright removal by clever equines.

To minimize damage, invest in a blanket with an outer shell of at least 1,200-denier triple weave or ripstop weave fabric. This type of fabric holds up better than most to sharp objects and errant teeth. For the ultimate in protection, some blankets have shells of high-denier ballistic nylon or an outer layer treated with Teflon coating.

In addition, there are various products on the market that can be sprayed on the blanket to discourage chewing. For extreme cases, a neck cradle or blanket bib might do the trick when the horse is stabled.

For equine escape artists determined to remove their own blankets, look for a style that fits snugly while still allowing freedom of movement. High necks, closed fronts or padded, V-front closures are other deterrents. Rubber stoppers on surcingle closures can help, too.

Last but not least: Keep your horse’s blankets clean and in good repair to prevent little problems from turning into big ones.