Ocala bound - self hauling

I somehow talked my job into letting me take two months off to go to Ocala this winter. Woo hoo!

That said, I’m a little nervous about hauling my horse from Northern Virginia (2h bp, just one horse). My longest haul has only been around two hours, so I’m looking for advice for the long drive. He travels really well and just eats the whole time. I did search and read what I could find.

Some things I wanted advice on…

Overnight layover: I’ll have a passenger with me, but they won’t be driving at all (generous, non-horsey person for safety and company). I will stop overnight to split up the time to make it easier on my horse. Any suggestions? I saw a place called Sally’s Ark (found it on horse motel.com) - anyone have experiences with it?

Water: He usually doesn’t even drink out of the buckets (with our farm water) when we go off farm. I’ll give him electrolytes and sloppy wet feed (he loves it and laps up every drop) the week before we leave. Any suggestions on how else to get him to drink/keep him hydrated? Was thinking more sloppy wet feed (only a handful of feed) each time we stop.

Also, is it worth getting a water tank installed so I don’t have to take so many containers?

Trailer divider: I’ve heard of people taking the middle divider out of a 2h trailer when only hauling one horse. I don’t want to do that, but is it ok to tie the back end over to the side so he has a little more room without the hassle of removing? I do worry that there wouldn’t be a butt bar though. Thoughts?

Florida line Ag station: I am getting a heath certificate and just got my updated electronic coggins. Any issues with printed e-coggins? First time for having these and I read to take the original, which is digital. Anything else I need on hand? What should I expect there? Do they make you take the horses off the trailer?

Any other tips are greatly appreciated, thanks!

I had a BP and did swing the divider over and secure it. Hauled up to 15 hours in it (not on purpose). Normally never went more then 12. Stopped about every 2 hours for 15 min. Stopped about 45 minutes while we ate about halfway thru. Horses were fine, the stops were more for human alertness and biological needs.

No grain 12 hrs before, during and 12 hrs after the haul. Add electrolytes or up them starting a few days before leaving. If he won’t drink in the trailer? Don’t panic, especially if you are planning an overnight stop in GA. Do. Not. Unload. By. The. Highway. Ever. Wait until you are in a safe, fenced area without curious and “helpful” onlookers.

Breath, try to relax. It’s really not as complicated as the 187 step process it’s made to sound like on here sometimes.

Thanks Findeight!

Might be a dumb question - why no grain? My guy only gets a tiny portion since he is a ridiculously easy keeper, but he gets pretty upset when he doesn’t get fed.

A friend of mine in GA used to frequently offer layovers…can’t guarantee they still do but worth asking. It would make for a long drive day 1 but then you could get to Ocala with plenty of time for setup on day 2. PM me if you want info on the barn. It is close enough to hotels, and they have staff that lives on site at the farm.

I personally would not tie over the divider. And I can’t tell you for sure about the e-coggins because the last time I took a horse into FL those didn’t exist. However, I just got a horse OUT of FL who had a white copy of a coggins, and not a pink or yellow carbon copy. I didn’t look at it closely but could do so later today to see if it’s an original or e-copy.

IPESq, thanks! Yes, I would be interested in your friend’s info. Depending on where in GA and if they still have the service it might be a good option.

Why no grain with longer hauls? I think most vets and long time owners/trainers with hauling experience feel the digestive system handles roughage better then concentrates, particularly under the stress of travel when many, if not most, do not drink adequatly. The big van companies I have used feed hay only enroute and recommend no grain immediately before and/or after as well.

Like most things with horses, doubt there are long term studies or anything like that. But it makes sense and an awful lot of people keep the diet as simple and easy to digest as possible when they have to stand in the trailer for more then an hour or two. I’ve also hauled and had them hauled for 45 years following this protocol and NEVER had so much as a mild tummy ache. They do usually look tucked up from mild dehydration and are thirsty, despite turning their nose up at offered water-even from home with their favorite flavor added. They just don’t drink well, couple of swallows at best, maybe they aren’t thirsty since they aren’t moving? I dunno. When I have stopped for the nite, after they have been off the trailer for at least an hour, usually more, they buried their heads in the water bucket, strange place, strange water, strange neighbors and all.

When you stop in Ga. after he’s been off the trailer for awhile and had a nice roll and you see him take a good, long drink, don’t think it’ll hurt anything to have a minimal amount of grain just so he thinks he had some. But skip it in the morning before you reload and wait a day after getting to Ocala to resume the regular amounts other then that minimal amount after he gets settled in and empties a water bucket or two.

Ag Requirements. I would have the paper copy of the coggins and the ORIGINAL health papers. Makes the checking easier for the person who looks at them.

•Proof of a negative Coggins test dated within 12 months of entry into Florida, and
•An Official Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (OCVI) dated within 30 days of entry into the state. The Coggins information, description of the horse and the temperature reading of the horse must be included on the OCVI.

Scroll down on this link to see more details on horses coming INTO Florida: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/content/download/35263/830148/EquineRequirements.pdf

I just shipped a horse to FL and the person who picked up said that the Ascension numbers on the health cert and the coggins had to match. Electronic versions usually do but the handwritten ones can have errors. Just check before you leave. Good luck and have fun.

Accession numbers…lol

I drove from Northern VA to Ocala last year and plan to do it again in a few weeks. I had a friend come along with me on the way down last year and had two horses on the way down. This time, I will have my human friend, but my horse will be alone in the trailer.

I started my horse on Standlee compressed alfalfa (in addition to his regular hay) a few weeks before my trip last year and plan to use it again. A flake of alfalfa can be soaked in a bucket of water. If he doesn’t drink, at least he will have consumed a bucket of water via the wet hay. I like hay bags instead of hay nets as the hay and dust will not blow around in the trailer.

I carried lots of water on my way down last year. Unfortunately, it all froze in the back of my pickup truck so I ended up getting water at the rest stops. I did the drive in 1 day. If you leave at 3am, you can avoid rush hour, and can get to Ocala before dark. I made many 5 minute stops on the way down to check on the boys. There were always contentedly munching.

Take enough hay with you so you can gradually transition to whatever hay you will have in Ocala. Good hay is expensive and can be hard to find.

Ocala is wonderful. I love the trails and parks. Have fun.

Sally’s Ark is great. Easy in and out and she is super nice and knowledgeable. I have hauled horses all over the country and have never hauled water with me. Just got water at my stops and if at all possible I hang a water bucket in the trailer for the horse.

At the FL Ag station on I-95 they will have you pull over into a parking spot and bring your coggins and health cert plus your drivers license in. They look at the paperwork and scan the health cert and your DL into their system then sometimes they will come out and look at the horse in the trailer to make sure the markings on the horse match the ones on the coggins.

Just looked at my guy’s Coggins paper…looks electronic to me. It is the same one he used to get into Florida. The new health cert I had one is a pink carbon copy.

I would not open divider. Too easy for them to fall in a trailer like that going around a corner. How far a drive is it? I only hauled 10 gallons and got water where I layed over. Defiantly soaked pellets or hydration hay. I would also lay over in a 2 horse as I don’t think the ride is that good in a light trailer.
Where are you staying?
I went for 2 months last winter in Bronson. My drive was 1200 miles

Thanks everyone! All very helpful info.

Findeight - Makes sense, thanks for the clarity.

2tempe, FreshAir, dmacaramel, IPEsq - great Ag station info!

AKB - Agreed I could prob do it in one day, I am just worried since the passenger (my 70 yr old father who has never driven a horse trailer) won’t be driving at all and I drive the trailer like a total grandma. It sure would make things easier though!

dmacaramel - thanks for the recommendation for Sally’s Ark. I wish it was just a little further south for a half way stop. Still might be my #1 since they have accommodations onsite vs having to take the trailer to a hotel.

China Doll - the farm is actually little north of Ocala. As for me, a friend who is already down there just informed me the place I was planning to rent is unacceptable to live in/was not as advertised. So, now I have to scramble to find something. Argh! If anyone knows of anything, I am all ears. Going to post and see if anyone has ideas.

OP, I’m making the same trip for the month of February, but from PA :cool:- the four legged is quite accustomed to long hauls but I don’t personally haul much, and I will be in my Tahoe and 2 horse straight load, not DH’s big comfy 4 horse slant, so we’ll see how he does with it. I’m not opening the divider, since I’m bringing all my hay for the month down with me and that will take up the other trailer slot. I wasn’t planning on laying over, although I do usually take one “long” stop for a sit-down meal (gives us both time to recharge) on top of our every 2-3 hour water/fuel breaks.

DH has used horsemotel.com before as well when he’s gotten tired on the road (he travels year round, usually with at least 1 horse in tow), never had an issue with anywhere we’ve found on the site.

I also cannot recommend US Rider highly enough. Have never had an issue getting help (unlike with AAA, who is not so horse trailer friendly). DH has had it for a while, I just added myself to his policy when my AAA membership expired, and I won’t be going back.

I can relate, had hauled three hours many times, but that was the longest.

Two April’s ago, decided to go to the Pitzer Ranch sale in Nebraska, took a friend, did all the driving. Took 11 hours there, drove straight thru, ended up getting TWO horses, took 12 hours coming home. We stopped a few times to water them. They had haybags that we kept full.

Horses were fine, didn’t know each other going into trailer, were and have been BEST buddies since they were hauled together.

I was freaked out, was totally OUTSIDE my box, I had NO idea if I would get outbid on all the horses and come home w/an EMPTY trailer. I think it was cuz it was so unusual and NOT planned, is why that trip will prob always be one of my very top horsey highlights!

I didn’t have the traffic that you prob will have at times, but your dad can be your navigator, let you know ahead of time what lane you need to be in, etc, easy to do w/smart phones, just go your pace, I bet you will gain a lot of confidence as you go.

Good Luck!

I discovered that vet clinics can be a super solution for overnight boarding. They often have safe stalls available, and you have the added benefit of access to veterinary care if a horse arrives under the weather.

Make sure your horse can lower his head to clear airways.

Trailering is hard on the horse’s immune system. my vet recommends an Eq-stimm injection in advance.

I just did a MA to Ocala trip…Hated it! But thankfully I was just a passenger. We had a 4 horse slant and my guy was going down to rehab a fetlock injury. He was not in the best shape muscle wise. 12 hours in everyone looked alert and happy but would not drink. Driver gave everyone hydration hay in a bucket and horse loved it. Only problem-next stop we check on the horses (300 miles) and my horse was stuck in the bucket! it had attached to his halter :frowning: He was so stressed. We gave him 10 cc of banamine and travel thru the night. The other 3 horses were tired but fine. My older guy couldn’t walk well at all but recovered much faster than I did! He will be coming home in a box stall in an Air Ride.

I recommend a layover 1/2 way and take your time. Multiple stops to check (crazy things can happen) and make sure you have banamine with you. Like the others have said no grain before during and after the trip. We mashed my guy and also gave him mineral oil and SMZ’s a few days before and after the trip.

Florence Horse Center in South Carolina is a nice place to stop with the horses too. If it were me though I’d go straight through.
Also with your coggins and health cert- if they are electronic ones with photos make sure they are the originals (aka the color copies). I’ve spent a long time sitting at the ag station with a black and white copy of my coggins that they determined was not acceptable.

If your horse does not like to drink on the road, try Horse Quencher (http://horsequencher.com/). My horse does not drink as much as I’d like at shows and this helps to get water in him. I just picked it up at my tack store,