We're on the road seven to eight months a year with our two horses and living-quarters trailer. Here are a few tips we've learned from years of experience.
Find the Right Trailer
When searching for a living-quarters trailer, we realize everyone has different needs. For ourselves, we didn't want the trailer to be too long, as we wanted to access small trailhead parking spaces.
We also opted for a trailer that's eight feet wide as opposed to seven feet wide; this extra foot amounts to a lot in a small living area.
Slide-outs give increased floor space. A raised roof over the bed area provides a feeling of spaciousness.
Look for a good bathroom design. Ample elbow room at the sink and a good sized shower were important to us. Also, light-colored wood and mirrors give a light, airy feeling to the living space. Simple matters such as this make months spent in the trailer pleasant.
Check for recessed sewer drops. If they're recessed up under the trailer, they'll stand a better chance of surviving high spots in the road.Large propane tanks will make life easier, because you don't have to refill them as often as small tanks.
When deciding on number of stalls, consider hay storage. Some people put the hay in a stall, while others put it on top in a hay rack. You can also turn a spare stall into a mud room and back porch.
Consider what you'll do if you don't have access to electrical hookups.
When not plugged in, we have three power sources in the trailer: batteries; a solar panel; and a generator. We use deep-cycle batteries. Make sure they're the most powerful you can buy. A solar panel on the trailer roof helps maintain and recharge the batteries.
A generator also assists in keeping batteries powered up and can run heavy-load items, such as a microwave oven and air conditioner. The furnace will generally run fine with good deep-cycle batteries, as long as they charge some each day.
Plan Your Trip
In our travel planning, we look at how many miles a day we want to drive, then search for layover spots. We like to find large pens or corrals for the horses to stay in overnight.After a long day in the trailer, they appreciate room to stretch.
Generally, rodeo grounds and fairgrounds are good, inexpensive placesto stay with your horses.
Ask about the size of pens and horse water availability. Upon arrival, search the corral for nails, wire, and other potentially hazardous objects.
Check in advance for availability of water for your horse. We've been to some locations where the streams were dry due to drought.
If you'll be away for a long period of time, give consideration to available electrical, water, and sewer hookups.
Plan Horse Containment
How will you contain your horse when on the road? Some overnight facilities have corrals, which, of course, is the easiest. If a corral is nonexistent, here are some containment options.
Nonelectric portable corral. Nonelectric portable corrals are usually made from light-gauge pipe, aluminum, or PVC. They're constructed with panels varying in length from 4 feet to about 6 feet. The panels are generally 3? to 4 feet high. In most instances, one person can set up these lightweight panels, which come apart in sections small enough to carry on the side of your trailer.
Electric portable corral. Electric portable corrals are normally charged by a small, portable, fence-charging unit. This type of pen is usually built of fiberglass fence stakes that are 2? to 3 feet high. Electric fence tape is then run through the stakes, and the whole system is electrified by a battery-operated charger. The electric corral is extremely easy to travel with and takes just minutes for one person to set up. We don't like to leave horses overnight in an electric corral, as they can roll around and roll right out of the corral.
Metal corral. For overnight or day use, we have a collapsible metal corral. We store it in the back of our pickup, but it can also be put on top of the trailer. The expandable panels form a 100-foot corral. However, we've found that horses can bend the corral while trying to get grass on the other side. This bending makes it difficult to slide the corral back together. To prevent this, we simply string an electric line along the top of the corral.
Trailer-tying system. For a quick, easy setup, we use HiTies, available from EasyCare Inc. These are heavy-duty fiberglass rods that you attach to the trailer. You fold them out, then tie your horses to them, much like a highline. Your horses can turn around and even lie down, and you can hang hay bags on your trailer below the ties.
Consider Feed & Water
When traveling with horses, we try to keep the same feed. Abrupt switch in feed may increase chance of colic. We feed grass hay. On the road, we add a cup of bran and an ounce of electrolytes,with some complete feed morning and night.
Bran helps to soften the stool, decreasing chance of colic. Electrolytes cause our horses to drink more frequently, once again decreasing chance of colic.
Check local requirements for certified weed-free feed, often required on public lands in the western United States.
Bring along enough water and food for yourselves, as well as your horse or horses, so that you can stay as long as you desire.
We'll often use a "slow feed" hay feeder for each horse during our camping travels. These feeders prevent hay from getting on the ground. In the case of sandy soil, they also lessen the chance of sand colic. Plus, hay waste is greatly reduced, because the hay isn't trampled into the ground.
We store our 65-gallon water tank in the back of our truck. The tank has a two-way valve, so we can fill the tank or dispense water from the same faucet.
Check Your Rig
Just before you leave, perform a trailer and tow-vehicle check. Check tire condition and air pressure, emergency brake, trailer brake, lights and turn signals, safety chains, and hitch condition.
Make sure everything is connected, the doors are shut, the electric cord is plugged in, and your horseis secured. We've heard of people driving off with the trailer's back door open.
Kent and Charlene Krone are seasoned horse haulers and equine photojournalists based in Idaho.