As the cold of winter settles in, prepare to take care of your horses – but not too much care. Coddling can be almost as dangerous as not taking enough precautions. When it’s cold outside, resist the temptation to keep your horse heavily blanketed and locked in a toasty barn without adequate exercise. With the proper feed, water, exercise, shelter, and blanket, your horse will stay warm enough to spend most days in the great outdoors. Continue reading
Happy National Dog Day to all you dog-lovers out there. As you already a know, a camping trip isn’t nearly as fun if you can’t bring along your furry family friend. So before you plan your next weekend RVing adventure, make sure your next camping destination can accommodate your RV and your pooch! Check out these Pet Friendly RV Parks: Continue reading
Buying a horse trailer is a big decision that impacts the safety of your equine charges, the ease and safety of your travel and, of course your wallet. With thousands of models to choose from, at all price points, let your needs inform your decision with these 5 tips for buying a horse trailer.
The Right Size for Your Horse
Understand what’s right for your horse or horses. No matter how fancy a trailer looks, or what a great deal it is, if your horses can’t travel safely and comfortably, it’s not the trailer for you. Measure your horse or horses from tip to tail and shoulder to shoulder to make sure any trailer you’re looking at is a good fit. Your horse needs to be able to spread its legs and have room to use its head and neck for balance to travel safely. Measure your prospective trailer purchase to check for head room – remembering that trailers with curved roof may consider the peak of the roof the trailer’s height, while your horses head may be closer to the outside wall. When checking the floor measurements, take into consideration wheel wells, which may steal some of your horse’s standing room.
The Right Size for You
The right trailer will not only be comfortable for your horse, it can be towed safely behind your vehicle, hold all the gear you need for your equine adventures, and be right for your lifestyle. With choices ranging from small single-horse bumper towed trailers to slant five fifth wheel living quarter models, understand, your needs and towing capabilities. A bumper towed trailer is the simplest and least expensive horse trailers, but may not be up to the weight of your load and has limited storage. The lightest bumper towed trailers can be towed by a small truck of SUV. A gooseneck trailer, which uses a ball hitch in a truck bed, offers a more stable tow and distributes the weight of your trailer across the center axle of your truck. Many have tack rooms and feed storage built in. A truck outfitted with a hitch in the bed is required. If extended travel is your plan, consider a fifth wheel living quarters trailer, where both you and your horse can travel and comfort and style. These trailers have the most room for you and your horses, and can be outfitted with enough luxury to match to swankiest motorhome or just have simple living quarters. Fifth wheel living quarter trailers are the most expensive and generally require a heavy duty towing vehicle.
Look for features that keep both you and your horse safe. If it’s a used trailer, keep an eye out for exposed sharp edges or protrusions and worn flooring. If it’s new, look for quality workmanship which will add up to safety: Sturdy walls, stout underfloor bracing and quality latches and gates. Look for a trailer with adequate ventilation: Windows that slide open and overhead roof vents are a must.
Choosing the Right Style
Before making a decision, know what style trailer is right for you: Manger, walk-through or slant-load. While a trailer with a fixed manger may sound convenient (and the storage area beneath the manger appealing), the manger may be problematic for your horse, who may spend the day inhaling the dust and debris from the hay and feed right below him. The manger may also take up valuable space, inhibiting your horse’s ability to spread his legs and move his head.
A straight forward walk-through trailer may be the simplest choice. The horse walks on behind the handler, who keeps going through a full-size door at the front of the trailer. While space for tack and feed may be limited in smaller walk-through trailers, the design gives the horse room to brace himself, while giving the handler a quick escape from an unruly equine.
If you need to haul more than one or two horses, consider a slant-load trailer. Perhaps not suitable for larger breeds, a slant load trailer makes it possible to haul more horses in a compact trailer. Slant load trailers do have disadvantages: the wheel wells can take up valuable floor space and horses traveling on an angle may have difficulty absorbing the bumps and twists of the road.
Ramp or Step-Up Trailer
While step-up trailers are far more common, some horse trailers have an added on ramp. While step-up trailers are industry standard, if safety is your priority, a ramp is safer for you and your horses. Make sure a ramp is easy to lift, spring assisted, and that there is only a tiny gap between the ramp and the trailer.
Long summer days are perfect for family fun and made even better if the day is shared with family pets or on horseback. Keep the summer fun healthy for everyone, including your horse, pony, and family pets by recognizing that heat and sun can be dangerous for your animals.
Blazing sun, high humidity, confined spaces, over-exertion and dehydration are all potential risks to horses, ponies and pets in the summer months. Keep you and your pets cool with awareness, timing and a big dose of precaution.
Take advantage of the long days, and plan strenuous activities with your horses and pets in the cool early morning or in the long shadows of the early evening. “Limit strenuous riding to late evening or early morning when the temperature is lower,” recommends the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “ Use less tack in the hot summer by minimizing saddle pads and leg boots.”
The same rule applies when you’re considering a jog with your dog. “On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours,” says The Humane Society of the United States, “and be especially careful with pets with white-colored ears, who are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets, who typically have difficulty breathing.” When the temperature goes up, take down the intensity and duration of exercise with your pet, according to the Humane Society. “Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible,” says the Humane Society, and “always carry water with you to keep your dog from dehydrating.”
In horses, dehydration, respiratory distress, and colic – even fatal heatstroke or heat exhaustion – can all be caused by the sun and humidity of summer, according to the Dr. Fosters and Smith Veterinary Supply website. Keep your horse safe from the perils of summer with some common sense safe guards.
According to Doctors Fosters and Smith website, horses can drink more more than 25 gallons of water a day when the temperature is above 70 degrees. Offer free, cool, clean water in a suitable bucket throughout the day; keep water troughs clean and filled. Turn horses out to pasture in the early morning and make sure there’s shade– natural or man made. When horses are working in heat and humidity and sweating excessively, offer electrolyte supplements to avoid muscle cramps, fatigue and colic.
Once your horse is back in the barn or other shelter, turn on the stable fans and open doors and windows to increase ventilation. Use misting fans or sponge cold water over your horse. Quality fodder is especially important in summer months. Feed hay provides the energy horses need to help control body temperature and support the natural the cooling process.
Cool off hot dogs by directing them into shade or bringing them indoors on hot days. Remember, for your canine friends, a fan alone may not do the trick, according to the Humane Society. Unlike people, dogs sweat primary through their feet, the Humane Society says, so fans alone are not effective.
Do not keep horses confined in steamy hot trailers for extended times and never leave dogs in locked cars – even with the windows cracked, says the Humane Society.
When the family pets are outside, make sure there is plenty of protection from direct sunlight. The Humane Society reminds pet owners that dog houses and other similar shelters are not protection from the heat – pets need lots of air circulation so an open-sided shelter is best.
Also, keep pet water bowls full and clean, adding ice whenever possible, the Humane Society recommends.
Barry Kellogg, VMD, of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, reminds pet owners that high humidity makes it difficult for animals to cool themselves. If your pet isn’t stressed out by bath time, use a kiddie pool, sprinkler or hose to offer a quick cool off on the hottest of days.
Before the heat of summer sets in groom your horse or pets for the dogs days of summer. Trim your pet’s coat short for the summer to help keep them cool. Also groom your horse’s coat, says Doctors Fosters and Smith website, and clip the mane and tail.
For more great tips on taking care of your horses or pets, check back for more blog posts! In the market for a new horse trailer? Don’t forget to browse our extensive online inventory or stop by our lot!
Taking winning family photographs on an RV vacation, around the house or for special occasions, may mean including fur-covered friends, big and small. From horses to Chihuahuas, you can take great pictures by applying a few fundamentals to your pet photography.
Keep three words in mind as you prepare to photograph your horse or pet: light, level and location.
Before you actually start snapping pictures of your horse or pet make your preparations because once you begin, there won’t be much time. While animals are man’s best friend, a pet is not always a photographer’s best pal and won’t wait while you fiddle with gear and poses. Have a plan before you press the shutter and it will be a better experience for you and your horse or pet.
Unless you have a high level DSLR and a separate speed light — flash or strobe – you can use off the camera, think natural light when it comes to taking pet photographs. An on-camera light, especially on a pocket camera, will cast a weak light directly into your pet’s eyes, creating red eye, loss of detail and inaccurate color – and that’s if you are lucky enough to get your shot. The shutter on smaller cameras can lag from the time you push the button – add in time to regenerate the flash – and your window for a great picture is probably gone.
The best light for your pet photography is natural light, preferably outdoors. Look for a clear area with nice, even light and put the sun at your back, shining directly on the spot you’ve chosen for your photograph.
“Palm reading” is a simple, unscientific way to check the quality of light for your pet photograph. With the sun still at your back, hold your hand out, palm up, over your photography area. See how the light plays across your palm. Are there speckles from a nearby tree? Is the light a dull gray because the sun is blocked? Adjust the position you’ve chosen for your photograph until the light is soft and even on your palm.
Plan to take your photograph first thing in the morning or in the last light of day, avoiding the harsh, detail-killing light of mid-day. Because the light travels further to reach us in the morning and afternoon hours, it is more diffused, or softer. Morning light is cooler and cleaner and is especially pleasing when shooting lights and darks. The late afternoon – the hour before the sun sets — is warm and works best for shooting golden or reddish colors.
Your pet is the focal point of your picture, so don’t let a cluttered background steal the show. Choose a location at least eight feet away from the background to help create separation between your pet and the background. Look through the viewfinder of your camera, past the subject, scanning for light poles, multi-colored, multi-textured buildings and distractions. Pick up any debris and clutter. Shift around – keeping the sun at your back – to minimize distractions in your photograph. A few steps can make a huge difference in the content of your photograph.
Remember, you want your horse or pet to be the star; the background should just fade quietly away in your picture. Look for a simple hedge or fence, rolling green hills or open field, with an inviting light.
Photographing animals is about capturing our relationship with our horses or pets, and the window to that relationship is in the eyes. Get down until you and the camera are eye level with your pet to help show the partnership you share – even if it means laying down. When equines come into play, it may mean climbing on a utility ladder, box or fence to get eye-to-eye with your subject.
Standing tall above your pet is the superior position and casts your pet in an inferior light. Shooting from this position may be good for a gimmick or “pet shaming” photograph, but it can create distortion – a big head and little body – and will result in more of a caricature rather than a portrait of your pet.
Shooting from the inferior position – the photographer is lower than the subject — is a hazard of equine photography, and leaves many a photographer wondering why their prized pony’s dimensions look a little “off.” Level yourself with your horse’s eyes.
Now that light, location and level are settled, zoom in, if your camera allows. While it’s tempting to ratchet out to the widest angle to capture every inch of your horse or large
animal, the wide angle will create distortion that alters the proportions of your pet. Adjust your zoom while looking through the viewfinder until you see proportions that look natural. Ifa full-body image is what you need, just back up and get further away.
A great photograph captures the personality – or soul – of your pet. The windows to the soul are the eyes and that’s where the camera needs to focus. San Francisco based pet photographer Josh Norem says it succinctly, “If the eyes aren’t in focus, the shot is wasted. End of discussion.” If your camera allows, set the focus for a single focal point – and aim for the eyes — rather than “auto,” which will focus on the point nearest the camera — probably a nose or paw.
Preparation and Shooting
Chefs call it “mise en place” or “everything in place” — all the ingredients and tools — ready to go when it’s time to start cooking. In pet photography, it’s also the key to success.
Decide when and where you’re going to shoot, have your camera set and ready to go, check your background for distractions, have a blanket to lie on or your ladder to climb for the picture set up, before your pet enters the scene.
Have your pet ready to go – brushed, groomed – and happy. A quick play session before the shoot will get everyone in the right frame of mind (no pun intended).
Stay relaxed but work quickly. Use treats or a toy held over the camera to grab his/her attention. Avoid having other people on the scene shouting out instructions that may confuse or stress out your pet and take attention away from the camera.
Shoot quickly. If your camera has a “sports” or “burst” setting, use it to shoot a series of pictures rather than trying to get the one perfect image. Remember, you’ve already done the hard work – checking out the light, choosing the right location and getting on the right level – now you’re composing your photograph with a focus on the eyes.
Most animals have a short attention span for photography. If you don’t get that perfect shot, come back tomorrow and try again. The results – and the experience — will be better for everyone.
When you’re ready to go “on location” for your pet photography, be sure your RV is road worthy with a service visit to the professionals at Crossroads Trailer Sales. And for all you horse enthusiasts, don’t forget to browse our great selection of new and used horse trailers.