Those of us who rope for a living probably average 70,000-100,000 horse hauling miles in the USA a year. That’s a lot of wear and tear on us, and our horses are in the trailer most of the time. As tough as the good ones are to come by, it’s important to do everything we can to keep our horses comfortable and happy when we’re on the road, like knowing how often you should stop when hauling your horse. Because as hard as the good ones are to find, it’s even harder to keep them going.
There’s a lot of driving involved in a professional roping career, which is why I like my 4-Star Trailer. The Air Ride Suspension System makes the trailer float a little. It’s like a shock-absorber system for my horse. He helps me make my living, so he deserves to be treated like a king.
The roping and riding is probably not as hard on a horse as the traveling. When we’re cooped up in that truck for hours at a time, we get out tired and stiff. Horses are the same way. So the more you can do for them, the better they’ll perform for you. When we have a layover, I go out of my way to get a comfortable pen for my horse, so he can relax.
I don’t wrap my horses’ legs when I haul them, because once you start doing it you need to do it all the time. They get used to that support. Also, if you don’t know how to wrap them properly you can cause more harm than good. I’ve never wrapped horses’ legs in my career, and I’ve never had any problems with their legs from the hauling. There are hauling boots that provide extra protection for horses that kick the trailer, but I’ve never had any trouble with that.
I try to keep my horses on a regular schedule at home and when I’m hauling them. I try to feed about the same time of day all the time. When I’m hauling a horse I try to keep hay in front of him all the time, because the miles take a lot out of them. I feed alfalfa hay in the morning and coastal (grass) hay at night, and try to stay as close to that when I’m on the road as possible. I take as much as I can with me when I leave for a road trip. I also feed Purina Omelene 200 and Strategy grains twice a day.
I stop and unload my horses every five or six hours. I let them out of the trailer to stretch their legs and move around, and offer them water. When it’s hot I offer them water more often than that. Horses are just like us that way-they get thirsty more often when it’s hot-and it’s our job to keep them as happy as possible. Keeping a clean, comfortable trailer and getting them out as often as possible also takes away the dread of loading up when it’s time to go again.