How Much is Enough? – Bedding and Trailer Rides

Show season is a time when many of us trailer every weekend to a new barn, a cross-country course, or just out to the trails for a well-deserved trail ride. We’ve been on several (very) long-haul trips recently, and the matter of bringing enough supplies is always a concern. How much hay should we bring? How much grain? Did we grab all of the tack? But how many of us consider how much bedding we should bring for our horses?

First and foremost, the length of the trip should be a consideration when deciding if extra bags of wood pellet bedding should be included, or if covering the trailer floor lightly will be sufficient. A trip that is less than a couple of hours round trip generally will suffice with an inch or two of bedding. This provides enough to absorb urine, as well as to re-cover the mats when the trailer is mucked before heading home. For a longer trip that may require more than one mucking, it’s advisable to bring extra.

Another consideration is ventilation. If the trailer has large windows that can be opened, ceiling vents, or largely open sides as are seen on stock trailers, then extra bedding may not be necessary. The amount of fresh air flowing in and carrying harmful ammonia smells out of the trailer will likely be sufficient to keep your horse’s respiratory health up. If your trailer is largely closed in, though, and features only small open areas on the sides, and possibly an open top half in the back, you may consider a thicker bed to absorb the urine.

How many horses are you hauling? Extra horses definitely call for more wood pellet horse bedding. Combined with the two above considerations, you may find that you need several extra bags. A load of four horses, regardless of short travel time and good ventilation, may call for a bit more padding. If the trip will be longer, and if your trailer is not well-ventilated, you should consider bringing extra so that you can sufficiently clean the trailer out upon arrival, and re-bed before you leave for home. 

Some horses, regardless of travel time, make a mess of the trailer, and have especially smelly urine (likely a side-effect of high protein levels in the diet, or hormone changes). If this is the case, extra bedding may be called for simply to make sure your particularly messy or smelly horse is comfortable.

Keeping your horse comfortable, clean, and healthy is one of the primary goals of trailering, next to arriving safely in one piece. Considering how long the trip will be, the trailer’s ability to bring fresh air in and flush potent air out, and the number of horses traveling are all things to take into account when deciding if you should throw some extra bedding in before you depart.