How To Travel With Your Horse For Competitions

It’s time to start preparing for the upcoming show season, which means it’s time to start talking about traveling with your horse. 

The reality is that there are many factors you should consider before planning a road trip with your equestrian partner in crime. 

From booking a hotel room with an indoor arena, finding good trail rides or even just researching different airlines that accept large animals as cargo — there is so much to think about when getting ready for a competition!

How to Travel With a Horse (The RIGHT Way)
When traveling with your horse for competitions, it’s important to plan ahead and prepare your horse for the journey to minimize stress and ensure their safety.
Bringing necessary supplies like first aid kits, water, and maps can help make trail riding trips both safe and enjoyable.
Having the right equipment is crucial for both the safety of the rider and the comfort of the horse during horseback riding.
Proper safety measures, such as using a helmet and following correct riding techniques, can help prevent common horseback riding injuries.
Techniques like visualization, deep breathing, and positive self-talk can help riders manage nervousness and anxiety during horse shows.

Learn Your Horse’s Quirks

One of the most important things to do when traveling with your horse is to learn his quirks. Each horse has their own unique personality and behavioral tendencies, so it’s important that you know what makes your horse tick. Some common quirks include:

  • Being afraid of cars or trucks
  • Not being able to cross bridges or go over large bumps in the road (such as speed bumps)
  • Not liking certain types of people or environments

When you’re preparing for a trail riding trip with your horse, it’s important to have all the essentials. As we discuss in our guide on must-have items for a successful trail riding trip, bringing along things like first aid supplies, water, and a map can help ensure that your trip goes smoothly and safely.

Plan Ahead

If you’re going to be away from home for an extended period of time and traveling with your horse, it’s important to plan ahead. 

The first step is making sure that you have the right equipment–a trailer or vehicle with stalls for both of you, extra feed and water containers, bedding (straw), a lead rope. Make sure that these items are safe for use before setting off on any long journeys!

Trailer or vehicle with stalls1
Extra feed containers (feed bags, hay nets)1 per horse
Water containers (buckets, jerry cans)2 per horse
Bedding (straw, shavings)Sufficient amount
Lead ropes1 per horse
Cleaning supplies (shovel, broom)1 set
Grooming supplies (brushes, hoof picks)Optional
First aid kit1
Spare tires2
Trailer hitch and ball1
Wheel chocks2
Trailer registration and insurance1 set of documents
Equine emergency contact information1 sheet

Planning ahead is essential when it comes to traveling with your horse. To ensure a stress-free and comfortable journey, make sure to pack all the necessary equipment, like high-quality products from brands such as SmartPak and Dover Saddlery.

Before hitting the road, make sure that your trailer or vehicle is safe and in good condition to avoid any mishaps along the way.

Hire Professionals To Assist

Hiring professionals to assist you is your best bet.

Hire a horse trailer, which can be found online or through your local equine supply store. You’ll need to have it inspected before using it on the road, so make sure you have time for that step in your planning process.

Hire a driver who has experience driving horses (and knows how to handle them if they get scared or agitated). 

This person should also be familiar with the area where you’ll be traveling so they can help plan routes that avoid major highways and busy streets–and keep both yourself and your horse safe!

Consider hiring someone who knows how to groom horses as well as handle other basic needs such as feeding them hay while traveling. It’s always better when someone else does this task rather than doing it yourself; otherwise, there’s too much risk involved!

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rider, it’s important to have the right equipment when horseback riding. As we explain in our guide on essential horseback riding equipment pieces, items like a well-fitting saddle, a helmet, and proper footwear are crucial for both your safety and the comfort of your horse.

Practice At Home

Learn how to load your horse into the trailer, and practice doing it a few times. It’s not as simple as just shoving them in there; you have to make sure that their footing is secure and they aren’t going to slip or fall over while they’re standing in there.

Also practice unloading your horse from the trailer, because this isn’t always easy either–you’ll have to guide them out slowly so that they don’t spook or panic and try running away from you (which could lead to injury).

Make sure you know how to tie up your animal securely both when loading them into their stall and tying them up outside of it (for example, if there was an emergency).

Trust Yourself And Your Horse

Trust your horse’s instincts.

Your horse has been trained to do what you ask, so trust that he or she will do the right thing when faced with a challenging situation. 

Remember that your horse has been training for years and knows more than you do about traveling safely and comfortably. 

If you have any concerns about the route or conditions, talk to other competitors who have traveled the same way before (and who are willing to share their experiences).

Trust yourself and your horse’s training!

Horseback riding can be a rewarding experience, but it’s not without its risks. To help prevent common injuries, it’s important to follow proper safety measures. As we explain in our guide on preventing common horseback riding injuries, wearing a helmet, stretching before riding, and using proper riding techniques can go a long way in keeping you and your horse safe.

Don’t Over-Pack The Trailer

When you’re traveling with your horse, make sure that the trailer is equipped with everything they need to feel comfortable and safe.

It’s important to leave space for them to move around in the trailer, so don’t pack it too full of tack and equipment! It’s also crucial that there be enough room for feeding and watering (and clean up), as well as space for their feet–you don’t want them stepping on anything sharp or getting their legs caught in any way.

Trailer Packing Checklist

Water buckets2
Hay bags1 per horse
Feed buckets1 per horse
First Aid Kit1
Blankets or sheets1 per horse
Shipping boots or wraps1 set per horse
Trailer ties1 per horse
Trailer hitch and ball1
Wheel chocks2
Spare tire1
Tire jack1
Trailer registration and insurance1 set of documents
Equine emergency contact information1 sheet

When preparing your trailer for travel, it’s essential to pack only the items that your horse needs for comfort and safety to avoid overloading the trailer. Consider using high-quality products like SmartPak and Professional’s Choice for your trailer accessories to ensure your horse is as comfortable and safe as possible during transport.

Be Sure Your Horse’s Basic Needs Are Met

Be sure your horse has access to water, food and a clean stall (or pasture). If it’s possible for you to provide a heated indoor stall, that can be beneficial during the winter months or in cooler climates where horses need protection from cold weather. 

For overnight stays at competition sites, consider booking an RV site with hookups so that you can bring along all of the comforts of home for both you and your equine companion(s). 

In addition to these accommodations being more comfortable than sleeping in tents or trailers outside onsite–and therefore better suited for humans too!

They also help keep costs down by eliminating extra travel expenses such as hotel rooms for yourself alone while still allowing room enough inside each vehicle/trailer unit (RV) so both humans AND animals can stretch out comfortably without feeling cramped together day-to-day throughout their journeys together over long distances across different states/provinces/territories etcetera…

Feeling nervous before a horse show is perfectly normal, but it’s also important to find ways to manage that anxiety. As we suggest in our guide on handling nervousness at horse shows, techniques like visualization, deep breathing, and positive self-talk can all help you stay calm and focused during competition.

Find The Right Horse-Friendly Hotel For You And Your Fur Friend

Find hotels that allow pets. While many hotels will welcome a dog or cat, they may not be so accommodating to larger animals like horses and livestock. 

If you’re traveling with one of these animals in tow, be sure to check out the hotel’s pet policy before booking a room–you don’t want to get there only to find out that they won’t let your horse stay with you!

Look for hotels where horses are allowed inside the building (some places require them to stay outside). 

This is especially important if it’s cold outside; having access inside means that the animal can stay warm throughout their stay at whatever place they’re visiting with their owner(s). 

It also makes things easier on anyone who might need help leading or caring for them while on vacation because then everyone knows where everything goes without having any confusion about whether each person’s responsibilities end at doorways or continue further into other areas of living spaces.. 

This way no one has any issues getting through doors or rooms with large/heavy equipment attached either!

Horse-Friendly Hotels Comparison Table

Hotel ChainPet-Friendly PolicyMaximum Pet SizeAdditional Fees
Best WesternAllows horses on a case-by-case basisUp to 2 horses per room$30-$50/night per horse
MarriottAllows horses with prior approvalUp to 4 horses per room$75/night per horse
HiltonAllows horses with prior approvalUp to 2 horses per room$100-$150/night per horse
Holiday InnAllows horses with prior approvalUp to 2 horses per room$25-$50/night per horse
RadissonAllows horses with prior approvalUp to 4 horses per room$50/night per horse

Note: Policies and fees may vary by location. Contact individual hotels for specific information.

Schedule Some Time For Yourself

I know it’s hard to believe, but you are not your horse. You’re a person with needs and desires that don’t always have to do with the horse. Try taking time for yourself when traveling with your equine companion(s).

Take a break from the horse: This can be as simple as visiting an indoor mall or coffee shop for an hour or two during their rest period, or even just sitting down outside in the fresh air for 5 minutes before getting back on the road again. 

Even if you don’t feel like having coffee or shopping, just getting away from them will help recharge your batteries so that when they’re ready to go again, you’ll be ready too!

Get some sleep: If possible try getting at least 6 hours of sleep each night while traveling so that both of your bodies can stay healthy during this stressful time in both of our lives!

Proper riding techniques aren’t just important for looking like a skilled rider – they can also help keep you safe while on horseback. As we discuss in our guide on the importance of proper riding techniques for safety, techniques like maintaining proper posture, using your legs and core to maintain balance, and keeping your eyes up and ahead can all help prevent accidents and injuries.

Enjoy The Adventure!

Travel with your horse can be stressful, but it’s also a great opportunity to enjoy the journey. Take time to enjoy the company of your horse and the beauty of the scenery around you. 

If possible, try to find ways to relax during travel so that both of you can focus on enjoying each other’s company rather than worrying about getting there on time.


With these tips, you can be sure that your horse’s travels will be smooth and enjoyable. Remember to plan ahead and trust yourself, so that you can have fun with your furry friend on the road.

Further Reading

If you’re interested in learning more about how to travel with your horse for competitions, check out these helpful resources:

How Do Showjumping Horses Travel to Competitions?: Learn about the different transportation methods used for showjumping horses, from trailers to planes to trains.

Advises for a stress-free trip and peace of mind: Get tips on how to prepare your horse for travel and ensure a smooth journey to your next show.

Travelling horses: a safe and stress-free journey: Discover common mistakes that horse owners make when transporting their animals, and learn how to avoid them to keep your horse safe and comfortable on the road.


How can I make sure my horse is comfortable during travel?

To ensure your horse is comfortable while traveling, make sure to offer plenty of hay or other forage, provide water frequently, and take regular breaks to let your horse stretch their legs and rest. You may also want to consider using protective gear like shipping boots to prevent injuries during transport.

Should I use a trailer or hire a professional transportation service?

The best transportation option depends on a variety of factors, including the distance you’ll be traveling and the type of vehicle you have available. For shorter trips, a trailer might be the easiest and most cost-effective option. However, for longer trips or ones that require crossing international borders, a professional horse transportation service may be necessary to ensure safe and efficient travel.

How can I prepare my horse for a long journey?

Preparing your horse for a long journey involves several steps, including ensuring they are up-to-date on their vaccines and other health requirements, packing necessary supplies like hay and water, and acclimating your horse to the trailer or transportation method ahead of time.

What should I do to ensure my horse arrives at their destination safely?

To ensure safe arrival at your destination, make sure to carefully plan your route and accommodations ahead of time and monitor your horse’s health and wellness throughout the journey. You should also take steps to alleviate any travel-related stress or anxiety your horse may be experiencing.

What are some signs that my horse is experiencing travel-related stress?

Signs of stress in horses during travel may include sweating, restlessness, excessive tail-swishing, and loss of appetite. It’s important to monitor these symptoms closely and take proactive steps to mitigate your horse’s stress whenever possible.