Use of dormosedan gel for trailering horses

Hello all! Next week my husband and I will be hauling our two half draft mares from Southwest Michigan down to Lexington for an overnight stay. And then the next day hauling them on to our new property in North Carolina.

When we hauled them from our small horse farm (sold in Feb.) to another stable for a temporary stay (while my husband and our fence guy got fencing put up in North Carolina), both mares came out of the trailer drenched in sweat. The trip was a short one, about twenty minutes in length. Both have been trailered in the past two years for short distances to get them adjusted to loading and moving in our new trailer which is oversized for our 17 hand mare.

Our vet suggested giving them dormosedan before loading. After doing some online searches about this sedative, I found that this sedation does not last very long, maybe between 1 and a half to two or three hours in length.

Can anyone who has used it give me any tips, both pro and con as I have not used it before. Especially in regards to trailering horses. Your thoughts will be greatly appreciated! (vet said not to feed any hay while sedated.) Thank you for advice!

Normally, acepromazine (atravet) is used for shipping. Injected or oral. Have NEVER heard of dormosedan being used for shipping, it’s too “heavy” a tranquilizer, they need to be able to keep their balance, and move their feet as necessary. It also makes them sweat, I seem to remember from the few times I’ve used it. Why was acepromazine not suggested as the drug of choice?
Acepromazine (atravet) reduces stress, but does not incapacitate balance when used in recommended doses, and lasts long enough to get you where you are going.

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I second ace to dorm.
I have a horse who is a high stress boy for shipping. He frequently gets sick after traveling long distances while the rest of the trailer is fine.
We have found a combo that works well and keeps him healthy and happy.
Start ulcergard and electrolytes 48 hours before leaving.
Give 10cc of Banamine and 1/2cc of ace an hour before loading. If traveling more than 12 hours, give another 5xc of Banamine and 1/2cc of ace after 12 hours.
Offer water throughout the trip but don’t give more electrolytes while traveling.
Have good hay in front of them at all times but not grain. Stop every 3-4 hours for 20-30 min and untie them to let them drop their heads and relax if they will do so safely.

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I’ve never trailered with it but did use it on a mare who was going through an issue with the farrier - at the vet’s suggestion. The results were very inconsistent - first time was great; 2nd time she was nearly unconscious. It seemed very dangerous for my poor farrier. 3rd time it didn’t seem to do anything. (Same dosage)

I would never want a horse in a trailer the way my mare looked on her 2nd dose. That made her very unstable and even in the barn aisle I worried she would fall down.

Dorm knocks my mare on her ass so I would be worried about trailering with it

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Perhaps test the effects of Dorm on your horse(s) before the trip to see how they react to it, and how long it lasts?

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I use dormosedan regularly for my horse when the farrier comes. I’m now down to half a dose per visit. My horse yanks his feet always when being shod.

I would absolutely not use it on a horse being trailered. Their balance is very off. I’m not even sure your horse could comfortably step into the trailer if properly given a full dose. The horse couldn’t balance itself on the road. Depending on the dose you give, it can make your horse’s balance off from 2-4 hours.

Absolutely do not feed your horse hay or grain for hours after this. Despite your horse being sedated while munching on hay, I believe gut motility is decreased. I’ll let my horse nibble on grass but he gets lunch, not breakfast, when the farrier comes in the early morning.

Dormosedan’s side effect is increased sweating. My horse sweats prolifically from a full dose and still from a half dose. We’re talking foamy accumulations. This drug will activate sweat and not reduce sweat.

I’ve used this for years. Let me know if you have specific questions.

Pay to have your horses properly trained to load and trailer. Hands down. You do not want your horse to fall in the trailer and get stuck. I am very against trailering a sedated horse but I’ve never had a horse who couldn’t be trained to trailer (and I’ve had hot-heads). Or, let your horses settle in to being trailered when they are trailered.

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I suspect your inconsistency was due to administration. It has to be administered well under the tongue to work. I have very consistent results with this drug including timing it perfectly for my farrier and then coming out of it for turnout.

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I second every word of this

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Yes, I agree; I think the last dose was nearly entire spit out. But the full dose (which I think was really a low dosage) was a little scary. Definitely more than needed for the farrier and would have been a train wreck in a trailer.

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Thank you! Thank you! Thank you all! You have given me lots of excellent information. I will not be using dormosedan for trailering our horses.

I will contact my vet on Monday and see if he will give me the oral form of ace. I thought ace was only an injectable sedative and I’m not experienced in doing shots. If we can give ace orally, that will be the best for our two mares.

Thanks so much for the responses given here. So much knowledge on this forum! We have time to get this situation sorted out as our schedule is flexible. Greatly appreciated!

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You can give injectable ace by mouth. Just draw it up in the syringe, remove the needle, and squirt it in.

Just to add a slightly different perspective, I’ve had quite a few horses who would get sweaty in the first 15-30 minute of trailering, but by the first stop on a longer haul (~1-2 hours) would be cool and calm. I think the initial “excitement/stress” of loading and getting underway can cause the sweating, but once they settle into/acclimate to the situation, they are ok (especially if you start on small backroad, rougher road, or stop/go roads and then get onto something like a freeway). If you’ve only trailered ~20 minutes previously, you may not know that they will settle down and stop sweating at 60 minutes.

Personally, dorm gel has not made my horse sweat, but ace has. Unless a horse is really a danger to itself or your trailer (e.g. scrabbling), I would be hesitant to drug for such a significant haul as you are describing. If your horses are used to the feeling of sedation (or if the dose isn’t exactly right), I think it could also increase their stress when they have to deal with the challenges of maintaining their balance in a trailer.

Just my $0.02…worth what you paid for it. Good luck with the big move!

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Ace pills are also available

Yes, I’m on a half dose now for the farrier and will try a 1/3 dose in the future. My farrier is very on time since I’m the first appt of the day so it is easy to plan the dose precisely. I wish I wasn’t such a practical expert on the gel, but my vet supports my plans because she knows this horse and my farrier.

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Can you try more local hauling to get them used to it! Also, pay close attention to how and where you’re driving. Interstate driving is typically easier on horses. I don’t sedate unless I really have to. I’ve hauled wild animals before without sedation. Smooth starts, stops and turns can make it easier. Maybe get a good trailer check done to see if there is anything contributing to a nasty ride back there.

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Big NO to dormosedan for hauling.
It can affect their ability to balance, so the last thing you want to add to hauling.

I would worry less about the sweating, assuming they recover fairly quick & aren’t showing any other sign of stress.
Two large horses in an enclosed trailer - even a stock type - generate considerable body heat.

A Cautionary Note on using Ace to sedate:
There is the occasional horse who reacts opposite to normal, becomes hyper rather than sedated.

I had personal experience with carriage horses to be used in a parade.
Both Aced prior to being harnessed.
I was leading both & while one was in the Slo-Mo you’d expect from mild sedation, the other was hyped & dragging me.
I felt like a Stretch Armstrong toy between them :crazy_face:

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Thank you all again for your thoughts and such great advice! I am not going to use dormosedan for our horses at all. Just one big NO on that. I am now thinking that we shouldn’t use ace either.

Since getting our new trailer two years ago, our two mares have been on lots of short hauls of twenty to forty minutes in length, just for practice loading, unloading, and just general hauling and being in motion. No long trips, though, as we had lots to do on our property getting things shipshape for potential buyers coming to view house and barn.

I don’t show our mares so they have not been off our property much at all. My Tbs (past horses before getting the two we have now) were shown and hauled around a lot. And were very good even with long interstate trips.

Our trailer was checked over last Dec. for any potential problems (tires, electrical, etc.) by the dealer down in Shipshewana, IN, after we accepted the buyers’ offer on our property. The trailer is a custom Hawk built with extra height and width.

I still have time to talk with my vet about our nervous Nellies as my husband just let me know that we won’t be hauling them this weekend but probably the following weekend. Suits me fine!

He’s getting a large run in shed set up now which will have two stalls and a third bay for hay. It looks like he is coming up this weekend to load up our horse trailer with our extra hay bales and taking them down before we haul the horses.

My sister is now very happy! (I’m staying with her, along with our two dogs. Horses are very happy at farm which allowed us temporary boarding too. Farm is just five minutes away from my sister’s and BiL’s home so easy to get out and work on shedding two yaks.)

Will contact my vet today and continue thinking this through a lot more! All responses have been greatly appreciated!

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Me too!! They are definitely very unsteady on their feet for hours. Not safe to be trailered in that condition

My old BO traveled with her new horse to Wellington from Pittsburgh. She initially installed cameras to watch how he did. After some initial stress, she was faced with hours upon hours of him just eating hay. I’ve shipped horses 1000+ miles cross country, both hot heads and not, and they all shipped just fine, especially on highways. They adjust. My current horse was shipped in a trailer with a Hinny even, to a clinic and after 5-10 minutes of freaking out, he was just fine, munching hay. I know because I followed the trailer and watched him. They adjust. You’re move will not be a problem! Check back on how it goes!

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