Updated: Jul 13
Welcome to this weeks edition of Take 5 Things, this week we have Nicky Sutcliffe showjumper and founder of Equi Travel Safe giving us her top tips on how to ensure your horse travels safely and reaches his destination feeling fabulous, whether he is travelling 10 minuted down the road for an exciting new hack or to a new country for a 5* competition.
Introducing Nicky Sutcliffe
Showjumper and Equi Travel Safe Founder, Nicky Sutcliffe has worked in the equestrian industry since leaving school. She owns and runs Sport Horse Select, a Yorkshire based livery yard, having done so for the past 12 years, since 2008. She has competed many horses over the years but has achieved the best results with Cornelius, a lovely, big, grey warmblood. Together they have competed BS up to 1.40m. Nicky is used to travelling horses up and down the country and a few years ago experienced an accident whilst travelling where a horse reared over the breast bar and came out the back door of their horsebox, a terrifying experience that they never wanted to see repeated, but one that is actually a pretty common occurrence. Since this incident, Nicky and her husband Jordan have been passionate about protecting horses and have developed the Equi Travel Safe which is a special harness that prevents horses from rearing over the breast bar in the horsebox. It was so successful at protecting Nicky's horses that they made it into a business so they could help protect as many horses as possible. The Equi Travel Safe is now protecting hundreds of horses and it's highly regarded by its users. Due to Nicky's passion for protecting horses whilst travelling and given her experience of travelling hundreds of horses over the year, here are her travel tips.
Travelling horses can be a stressful time for everyone. By having a plan, being prepared, and taking precautions you can limit yours and your horse’s stress levels, and lead to a productive and enjoyable time.
1. Plan and Prepare. Do as much preparation the day or days before as possible. You’re less likely to forget something if you’re not rushing and stressed. This also saves energy to help you perform on the day. Some quick tips include:
Have your tack, boots, and gear cleaned and ready.
Have a list of everything you need and tick each item off as you pack.
Where possible, prepare, and pack your transport before the day. Pack hay nets, water, grooming kit, and other items that are safe to be left unattended.
Prepare your vehicle by checking every thing’s working, safe, and you have enough fuel. Also open windows or fans to suit the forecast.
Prepare your horse as much as possible, even if you can’t bath them. By pulling, trimming and brushing through tails, you’ll save time on the day.
Plan your journey and allow plenty of time for loading, travelling, and preparation when you arrive.
Plan how to keep your horse as clean as possible during the journey, to save time when you get to the show.
2. Plan to be calm. Allocating yourself enough time and being prepared will help you stay calm. Horses definitely possess a sixth sense that picks up on our vibes. The calmer you are, the calmer your horse will hopefully be.
Keep yourself calm. If you struggle with this, a mindset coach is a good idea.
If your horse is prone to anxiety, consider methods that help keep them calm. Calming cookies have become very popular in recent times or you may have other techniques that work with your horse.
Consider bringing a calm friend or trainer who can step in if you need them. Choose a person who will have a positive impact, not add to your troubles.
If anything does go wrong, remember that no amount of stress will get you there any quicker or solve any problems.
3. Plan to Protect Yourself. Protecting yourself is very important. You are putting a massive creature into a tight space, so personal safety is paramount.
Wearing appropriate protection, especially during loading is essential. A hat, gloves, and correct footwear are a must.
Remaining calm under pressure will help your horse remain relaxed.
Plan to load your horse or horses last of all so you can raise the ramp and leave. Horses are prone to get agitated when first loaded but tend to calm once on the move.
4. Protect Your Horse. There are many ways to protect your horse while travelling. As well as protecting from injury, you can also help keep them clean and safe.
Leather head collars are considered correct when travelling horses as they will snap if necessary, and poll guards are a good addition, especially if head room is limited.
Choose whether to rug or not depending on the horse and conditions. Horses tend to get hot while travelling so pick something suitable for the forecast and take a spare.
Travel boots are a quick and easy way of protecting their legs. Pads and bandages are also great but allow extra time to put them on. These will also help to keep them clean.
Tail bandages and guards protect the horse’s docks and keep them clean. A top tip is to plait the tail and put the end to the top of the dock, then wrap the whole tail in the bandage, this way it’s protected and kept clean.
If you have a breast bar or lockers you can protect your horses from rearing and getting stuck by using an Equi Travel Safe. These are also known to relieve a horse’s stress while in the horsebox.
5. Plan to Preform. You only have a certain amount of brainpower and energy to use every day. By doing this preparation on the days or even weeks leading up to your event, you can save yourself for the big day. The more planning you’ve put in, the less you’ll have to worry about. The more precautions in place, the less chance of things going wrong.
Go and enjoy yourself. And good luck.