Road trips made easy with the help of Mackenna Shea, Kelly Pugh and Jenny Caras.
By Mikaela Kantorowski
Take it from these top young riders who have been here, there and everywhere: a little know-how for traveling with horses can make life easier. With hefty competition schedules, Mackenna Shea, Kelly Pugh and Jenny Caras spend their lives on the road and have it down to a science.
Before any long tip Mackenna Shea recommends taking your truck into the shop for a check-up and an oil change.
“When you’re out there [on the road], something is bound to go wrong so try and do the best you can to prevent it,” Mackenna said.
All three riders start administering GastroGard to their horses about a week before shipping and continue throughout the trip. Consult a veterinarian about this option.
Jenny explained, “I do about a half a tube and do it until I get back home or if the trip is longer, until they settle in.”
During the trip, keep the essentials – from vet kits to buckets to blankets – easily accessible. Otherwise, you may learn the hard way when you have to unpack the whole trailer to find one water bucket.
Mackenna recalled one such incident: “It was freezing where I stopped even though it was 80 degrees when I left. I had to dig through the entire trailer to find a blanket for my horse!”
On the Road
Jenny’s go-to trick for keeping her horses hydrated is a bran mash before and after travel to increase water consumption. Kelly always travels with electrolytes in her truck to give to the horses. Hydration is key to preventing colic and stressing the horse, so offering water at each rest stop is imperative.
Considering how the horse prefers to be shipped is another important factor and there are different options to ensure the horse travels comfortably. Kelly prefers to let her horses travel without their heads tied up and Jenny prefers to ship in a box stall to allow for some movement.
Each rider agrees that packing food bags is the way to go for the first few days during and after travel.
“Things get chaotic when traveling but bags make it easy to throw food and not worry about supplements or measuring grain,” said Jenny. Food bags are easily stored in an accessible spot and pre-measured to dump and go.
For the human appetites, Mackenna says her biggest tip is to “never eat the gas station food!” A sick passenger stuck in a truck for hours is a nightmare situation. Pack snacks and meals at home to avoid the gas station selection.
Take to the Air
Another travel option is flying. Sometimes it isn’t financially possible, but both Jenny and Kelly agree that flying is easier on the horses than extremely long trailer trips.
“I drove 14 hours to Bromont Horse Trials in Canada and flew nine hours to England and my horse Forty (Fernhill Fortitude) felt so much better after the flight than the drive,” Jenny recalled.
Both riders agreed that “the hardest part about flying is the short drive to the airport.”
Kelly, Mackenna, and Jenny agree that traveling efficiently with horses can be a trial and error process. Not all methods work for everyone, but the basics should be in place each time you hit the road.