Safety tips for floating your horse

Whether it is taking your horse to an event or moving them from their paddock, floating your horse is a big part of many owners’ lives. This is why it is so important to have proper safety procedures in place for both you and your horse.

Petcover will take a look at some of our top safety tips, as there are many factors that can come in to play when floating your horse.

Float Capacity

The most common mistake that is made by horse owners is not taking in to account the combined weight of their horse and gear for the appropriate float. Double checking the load capacity of a float (if you don’t already have one) is a crucial step before purchasing, as it may be too small for what you need and therefore can’t carry your horse and everything you require. Going over the capacity of a float can have major implications and therefore lead to accidents in the future.

Know your Float

Before you even begin to load your horse on the float, be sure you’re familiar with it and know of any possible problem areas that may arise.

Tyres: light truck tyres are recommended (as they can bear the weight unlike car tyres) and they should be legal with sufficient tread

Lights: with all towing vehicles, you should be checking whether or not all the corresponding lights are working. This includes brakes, indicators, tail lights, number plate light, side markers and reflectors

Brake: not only should all brakes operate on each wheel, the float should also be fitted with a breakaway brake system if over 2000kgs. This will activate if the float detaches itself from the towing vehicle.

Float windows: be sure to close all windows if they do not have screens on them when driving as debris can fly through and injure your horse. If horses are not securely tied within the float, keep the window closed as they can try and fit their heads through the windows no matter the size.

Dividers and leg room: if you have a double horse float, be sure that the divider does not extend all the way to the bottom of the floor. If it does, this can stop the horse from spreading their legs and can lead to them becoming uncomfortable and therefore will play up when trying to board the float next time.

Supervision: never leave your horse unattended in the float and if possible, bring a friend when transporting as there will always be someone to supervise and potentially avoid serious situations occurring.

Driving: stay cautious when driving and keep the journey as smooth as possible, this will help to reinforce the concept that travelling in the float is nothing to be scared about

What else to consider?

Other key factors that you should consider with your float are quick release chest bars; sturdy breaching gats instead of chains; keep partitions free swinging; remove all dangerous fixings; and an anti-slip low angled ramp.

Journey Preparation

Once you know the ins and outs of your float, you can now begin to prepare your horse for their journey by following a few simple steps:

General check-up: Have your horse checked by a vet to ensure they are in good health and therefore it is safe for them to travel (unless it is an emergency)

Tail bandages: These can be a great investment if your horse tends to push up against the tailgates in your float resulting in sores and losing their tail hair. Try to wrap the bandage around the tail not too tight as this in itself can lead to serious consequences.

Using your horse float can seem like a daunting task, however with these few simple tips above you should be well on your way to safely using your horse float. As stated above, these are only a few safety tips, for more information ask your local equine veterinary or a float retailer.

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