Random brainstorming ahead of the trip

I’ve never traveled this far with a horse before, OR used a commercial shipper, so any advice is greatly appreciated!

Prep ahead of the trip

– Tris is gradually getting used to wearing his Back on Track products for longer and longer periods of time; that’s his bell boots, front leg quick wraps, and sheet. My plan is to ship him in the sheet and bell boots, and mayyyyybe the quick wraps? The bell boots will also come in handy post-surgery, as they are meant to increase blood flow to the hoof.

– I’ve got the go-ahead to hand walk, and so every day we are going to do a deep groom, 20-30 minutes of hand walking, some stretching, and start practicing some of our in-hand trailer loading skills. It’s been 4 years or so since he last loaded on a trailer, and he’s never been great at it. The idea is to keep up his muscle tone and overall movement even though he’s not in work, and to work especially on his “step up” in hand, his cue to take one step forward at a time, which was key to his previous trailer loading. (I had it so ingrained that even when he was overall refusing life, I could usually get him to take a step forward; string enough of those together and he’s on before he knows it.)

– This weekend I’ll pull out our old travel trunk and empty and repack it with things we might need on the trip. That will probably travel down with me in my car, since it’s more “nice to have” stuff than stuff he will need on the trailer itself. In there will go things like a backup halter and lead, any other blankets I might want to bring, grooming tools in case they let me in with him, that kind of stuff. (I am guessing New Bolton will have far stricter rules than our local equine hospital, who let me take my book into his stall with him.)

– I’ve started shifting money around in and out of various savings, ugh, and stopped spending on anything not absolutely 1000% necessary.

Awkward hand walking selfie

Still to figure out

– Exact shipping dates, and I know this is the way the world works and I know everyone else deals with it all the time but WOW, I can’t even express the heartburn of doing a major trip in two weeks and the plan for shipping being “sure, we can do something around that date, let’s touch base five days out.” I HATE IT.

– Exactly what the hospital needs/wants for him to have while he’s there. Am I going to be that person that brings his hay from home? TBD. How to pack up grain, supplements, etc? Does he need his own buckets? Do I need to label all of his stuff in a specific way?

– I think I have an AirBNB picked out but I need to decided how many days to get it for (see above re shipping) and whether I really need something nicer but a touch further away from the hospital? Pursuant to the questions about the hospital, they’re probably not going to want me sitting around all day (again, bless our regional folks who let me camp out in their waiting room with my work stuff for two days).

– Waiting on a conversation with the surgeon for some last questions, and the one I haven’t asked yet because I can’t quite emotionally wrap my brain around it is prognosis for soundness. All signs point to yes, but ugh, I just can’t quite get there yet.

The first time I took him out of his stall in almost two weeks and he STILL resorted to his usual delaying tactic.

Planning for aftercare

– I’ve started organizing up all my medical supplies, and bought new stocks of my favorite duct tape (yes, I have a favorite, I have zero shame about this) and Elastikon. God, do I wish something else worked as well as Elastikon because that stuff is so expensive.

– I’ve also put a weather eye on all my commitments for February; I have my leadership training for the first few days after we return but! It’s the only session that will be near where I live already, and just two towns over from Tristan, hallelujah, so I can sneak out early morning or late at night to check and rewrap if I need to.

– In theory, this should be an easier aftercare than last time, so I am cautiously optimistic that the hurdle of the surgery itself will be the worst part.

Anything I’m missing???

5 thoughts on “Random brainstorming ahead of the trip

  1. Re: shipping Tristan with stuff – confirm that your shipper is OK with him shipping with stuff on. I’ve heard anecdotally that some don’t like boots, wraps, whatever. Hopefully an easy “yes no issue” but then you know for sure.

    Polly was 5 hours from home barn to training barn, and then it was another hour from training barn to the vet clinic for surgery. I have no idea if I ever blogged about that, but it was a long freaking day hauling the empty trailer to training barn, loading up, going to clinic, waiting on surgery, and then hauling her back to training barn.. and then driving her home the next day. Looking back, we went exactly a week between “diagnostic vet visit recommending surgery” and “packing up my trailer to haul her to surgery” so while I at least had set dates, I can totally relate to some of the chaos here. (Hi boss, I’m taking two days off next week, sorry!)

    I thought about it in two parts. One: what do I need for her if she bangs herself up in the trailer? I didn’t pack my entire first aid stash, but I wanted to make sure I had the basics.
    Two: what do I need for my sanity? This meant snacks for the drive, chocolate for stress-eating (no shame, there was lots of chocolate that month), extra chargers for my phone in case I wasn’t near an outlet, etc.
    And finally.. you’ll have a car, so if you do forget something, it is not the end of the world. These are things I have to tell myself regularly, it’s harder when truck and trailer are hooked up and it’s rural, but with car? You’ve got this.

    Thinking of you both and hoping it goes smoothly and with as much information as you can get beforehand.


  2. I second Figure’s comment that your shipper might prefer him to travel without wraps, thanks to the heating factor on such a long drive. If I were you, I *would* take your hay to absolutely minimize the colic risk, but as long as the hospital has the same type of hay you feed, it shouldn’t be a problem. Most horses will not drink while traveling even when water is offered at rest stops, and most of them arrive a little dehydrated after long trips, which is no big deal as long as they drink well on arrival – you may find it worth your while to bring a couple of gallons of your barn’s water along, if possible, just for that first drink (I always take a 5-gallon drum of our well water with me). Whenever I have horses arrive at my barn after long a trip, I give them a couple of pounds of alfalfa pellets soaked into a watery mash, with two tablespoons of Epsom salts as electrolytes.
    Finally, I’m sure your vet hospital will do this, but I would monitor his temperature twice a day for a week after each trip to catch travel sickness (pleuropneumonia) early, just in case. Soaking his hay and feeding from the ground for the first few days after arrival will also help prevent this.
    That’s a ton of info, most of which you probably already know, but try not to sweat it too much – I have never had any drama with horses traveling long distances, even with lamenesses involved, and your beautiful Tristan is going to be okay ❤


  3. I would echo Figure- especially the make sure they are okay with him having stuff on. Most are not. And to be honest I think with good reason. Around here the vet hospital provides hay and also grain (probably not the special stuff and they may not want him to have it when he’s recovering. They may just want him on hay. I would call the vet place and ask the vet techs not the the vet.

    I wish you had someone to go with you- it would make it easier. But, like Figure says, you will have the car. Deep breaths. you’ve got this!


    1. Thank you! I know that the hauler is okay with blankets, and actually suggested them since he might be alone on the trailer. But it’s useful to check on the wraps. Honestly I never put boots on him when I shipped before, I’m just being maybe over-neurotic. I’d like to do the bell boots to keep him from stepping on his foot wrapping, but we’ll see.

      He’s not really on grain right now and I think I’ll take down a bale or two of our hay just to keep him happy. I think I will be okay by myself; work told me to just take the week off so other than the driving and the stress of the surgery I think it’ll just be a lot of waiting around. Fingers crossed, anyway.


  4. I haven’t been to New Bolton, so not sure on their preferences, but Tufts and Cornell were more than happy to let me hang around in their waiting rooms and/or with my horse. Cornell even let me come hang out on Easter with Rio. Not only that but my vet took time out of his holiday to stop by and chat with me to face to face which was absolutely not necessary but very kind. I’m guessing New Bolton will be similar. They know we love our horses.
    I have never had to bring buckets, but have packed up meals in large ziplock baggies to makes things easier. That’s something you can ask about though. The hospital should be able to tell you if they want you to bring meals and meds or if they prefer to provide that. As for hay, I only brought for Rio once because he had to have chopped and I already had plenty. They didn’t keep it on hand, so were fine with me bringing it.
    As for blankets, most of the bigger hospitals are heated and you’ll likely just need a sheet. But again, definitely something you can ask about.
    I probably wouldn’t use the BOT wraps on the trailer. They just seem like they could slip (I do use them in the stall for short periods, so am familiar). I’d either go with nothing on the legs or a regular shipping wrap. I typically don’t wrap for very long trips (like to Florida) but do for shorter ones (like 5 hours or less).
    Truthfully, you shouldn’t have to bring too much stuff for Tristan. The hospital stays I’ve been through had grooming items for each horse already, as they like to control keeping things clean and what not. I’d recommend making sure you have whatever you may want for snacks, hydration, etc. Though if you’re not hauling, it will be easier for you to pick up things too. I’ve always had a truck and trailer with me which makes that less easy.
    I’ve only known a couple of people who dealt with Kertatomas, but both were successful and horses went back to work just fine once given the go ahead. I know Tristan’s case is more complicated due to his past troubles, but I’m hoping you have a smooth surgery and positive outcome. Sending all the good thoughts to you guys!


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