"Young, Old, Large, Small...Transport one or transport them all!"
4HFES and NCSMART, LLC does not discriminate... We will transport equines with their non-equine companions or other animals on a case by case basis.  Non-equine animals will not be transported with equines unless they are familiar with one another and can be hauled together without undue stress or behavioral issues.

Transport Philosophies, Recommendations, and Policies


     We provide equine related services with a high level of horsemanship, state-of-the-art transportation vehicles and equipment, as well as a vast knowledge of equine management, medical emergencies, and unforeseen emergency incidents.  We go above and beyond for our clients to better ensure the safety and well-being of their equines during transport.  My husband and I are the sole owners/operators of our company and we set ourselves apart from most other transport companies and haulers, both private and commercial, and other equine service providers with the specialized training, education, and experience we have that can be applied to all facets of our business.  

Transport for the Client - Not Per Equine

     We pride ourselves in quality of care and not necessarily how many equines we can transport in one trip... meaning, we typically will only haul equines belonging to one person in a single transport unless both parties requesting transport approve of their equine being hauled with another on the same trailer.  This policy reduces the risk of injury due to unfamiliarity between equines, risk of contracting a communicable disease by close contact, or becoming ill from undue stress of interaction between equines.  We try to keep our fees reasonable for the service we provide and can, typically, compete with most private transport companies but unfortunately cannot compete with the commercial companies that may have anywhere from 5 to 10 equines on one transport route which allows them to divide the associated costs and provide lower shipping rates.  Multiple equines on a single transport may result in longer transport duration with multiple layovers or drop-off points along the route, extended time standing in a straight/slant stall or in a box stall without adequate relief, increased risk of injury or illness, higher stress responses, decreased food and water intake leading to weight loss and dehydration, and limited direct care and individual monitoring during the transport.    


Constant Communication with Client / Owner

     We understand that more often the equines we transport are considered “family members”, “expensive investments”, “cherished companions”, or hold “sentimental value” to our clients.  Due to this emotional attachment, we acknowledge that turning your equine over to someone you do not know and entrusting them with the equine's life from one point to another can be extremely stressful for the clients or owners.  We try to include the client and/or equine owner as the transport progresses with status updates through posts on our Facebook group page or via text messages.   We make every effort to contact the client and/or owner, along with the contact person at the destination, to update them with our progress no less than twice (at least once approximately half way and again approximately 1 hour away from destination) during the transport.  We welcome the client and/or owner to contact us by phone to check in on their equine(s), however, for the safety of our driver, vehicle occupants, and equine(s), keep in mind that since we are driving and navigating routes and traffic, we may not be able to speak at length when you call.  We have found that posting or texting photos and updates, along with constant and open communication with our client and/or owner provides added comfort and reassurance to many of our clients.    


Scheduling and Transport Documents

     Equine transportation local or long distance needs to be scheduled well in advance of the departure date, if possible, to allow for any necessary arrangements to be made.  A comprehensive “Transport Contract” must be completed and all required documentation will need to be submitted and received by 4HFES and NCSMART, LLC prior to the date of pick-up in accordance with the agreement between client and 4HFES and NCSMART, LLC.  If the transport cannot be scheduled well in advance, please contact us immediately, as we are often available on short notice as well, and we can discuss other arrangements regarding the receipt of the Transport Contract and other documentation, payment, and scheduling.  Multiple references and testimonials from equine clientele, veterinarians, industry professionals, etc. can be provided upon request.


Emergency Transport

     When available, we are also capable of assisting with emergency transportation for medically stable or compromised equines needing to be transported from a farm/facility to a veterinary clinic or to a veterinary hospital such as the North Carolina State University - College of Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital (http://www.cvm.ncsu.edu/vhc/) in Raleigh, North Carolina or other facilities in the North Carolina, South Carolina, or Virginia areas.


Emergency Evacuation Assistance

     In addition, evacuation transport is an emergency service offered by 4HFES and NCSMART, LLC when our schedule permits.  Should a natural disaster occur or be predicted to affect an area of North Carolina, or surrounding states, we will provide transportation on a case by case basis if we are available to respond at the time the request is received.  We highly encourage all equine and livestock owners to pre-plan evacuations and don’t wait until it is too late before implementing that evacuation plan.  If we can assist with any pre-planned evacuations please let us know, however we will not risk our lives or property to rescue your equines or other livestock should there not be enough time to safely do so.  We greatly appreciate your understanding with regards to our stand on being a responsible equine and livestock owner and pre-planning for emergencies and evacuations.


Transport Trailer Construction

     Some of the safety measures we have in place start with our trailer’s construction.  We spent more than 8 months with the owner of the EquiSpirit trailer company to custom design the most structurally sound, well ventilated, spacious, and easy load/unload trailer possible that is not only one of the best made trailers on the market today but is also built with the safety of the equine first and foremost with multiple entry/exit doors and ramps, dividers and support bars that are easily removed with the pull of a pin, and flooring made of RUMBER (a rubber composite board with tread), a durable and strong material, which provides traction while allowing some flexibility for the comfort of the equine.  The trailer is completely insulated to combat the heat of the summer months and the cold from the winter months from adversely affecting the equines being transported.  There are large screened windows and fans to provide a continuous circulation of air, even if the trailer is stationary.  The two side ramps are directly across from one another and the rear ramp is has a low profile to the ground to allow for a safer entry and exit.      


Camera Monitoring System

     The equines being transported are monitored via a state-of-the-art trailer camera system with color images, night-vision, and sound.  Our trailer is equipped with three cameras, one in the front stall area, one in the rear stall area, and a rear-view camera which allows us to see what is behind our trailer at all times.  Unless necessary in order to provide water or hay, we make every effort not to get inside the equine's area in the trailer during transport for our safety and the safety of the equines we are hauling.  We can monitor the equines during transport from inside the towing vehicle so that in the event of an incident inside the trailer, arrangements can be made to maneuver to a safe location away from the roadway where the situation can be better assessed and handled safely and appropriately.


Transport Preference - Stall Configuration / Tied or Not-Tied 

     Based on years of research and observation, we prefer whenever possible, especially for long distance transports, to haul loose in a box stall configuration.  The reasons we prefer to haul in this manner are as follows:

  • to allow the equine to assume the most comfortable positions for them during transport...some prefer to ride backwards or change directions and positions during travel
  • to afford the equine the choice of lowering its head during transport which allows them to blow and cough, greatly benefiting their respiratory system and overall health during transport
  • to lessen the stress response of the equine potentially caused by a "claustrophobic" and/or "trapped" feeling if confined in a straight or slant stall or tied
  • to better combat any "panic" behavior, especially if the equine is young, not very confident, not accustomed to being in a trailer, or being separated from herd mates, familiar surroundings, etc. 
  • to make "self-rescue" a possibility should an unforeseen incident occur.  Equines are prey animals, fight or flight, therefore if they are trapped or in a compromised position their first reaction is to get to their feet (hooves) and flee to save themselves.  Should an unavoidable accident/incident occur during transport and the equine goes down in the trailer or is inside an overturned trailer, the equine, if left loose, can quite possibly maneuver to a standing position without too much difficulty, resulting in a lesser potential for injury or death.  

     We try to accommodate our client's requests as much as possible, if their requests do not undoubtedly jeopardize the overall safety or well-being of the equine during transport.  Should a client prefer not to have their equine hauled in a box stall, our trailer was designed with extra spacious straight stalls (7ft long body / 3ft long head space and 3ft wide) with an optional stud-divider and a slant stall (51in wide), combined with a height of 7ft 6in, provides enough space to comfortably fit small miniatures or foals to large draft breeds.  When equines are hauled in the stalls, they are afforded just enough length of rope to reach available hay and water but not to permit entanglement and are secured to the trailer with "tension release" or “weak link” attachments, such as baling twine loops or specialized tie-rings, that provide a quick release in the event of an emergency.  If the client requests that the equine be hauled tied, we will honor their decision and tie the equine but for safety purposes we will tie in this manner and their request will be documented on the Transport Contract. 


Hay / Feed / Supplements / Medications Provided During Transport

     Unless specified otherwise by the client or veterinarian, all equines are provided hay and water throughout the transport, regardless of duration, as well as provided grain rations if needed for extended transports.  Equines can be finicky about smells and tastes...not so much with hay or other forages but with grain and water especially.  Hay will either be placed on the floor of the trailer or in a slow feed (small hole) hay net which are safer and healthier methods of providing forage during transport.  Slow-feed small hole hay nets are used because they drastically reduce the amount of waste, slow the rate of consumption so the equine doesn't "engorge" itself during transport, limit the boredom as it takes more effort and interaction with the net to consume the hay, and reduce the risk of leg entanglement since the holes are so small should the net slip or an accident occur.  We prefer to obtain hay from the location where the equine is being picked up at to eliminate any changes in the diet which could predispose the equine to colic or other medical complications, however if that is not feasible we can provide a Timothy Mix hay if needed upon approval of the client which will be documented in the Transport Contract and at the client’s expense.  If hay is supplied by the client or agent for the client if is recommended to provide extra hay in the event of an unforeseen delay in transport, however we will maintain at least one bale of high quality Timothy mix hay on the trailer for emergency use only should unforeseen circumstances occur.  Water is provided throughout the transport and not just at rest stops.  Buckets are secured to the wall of the trailer and filled approximately 1/2 -3/4 full and refilled as needed. We have a 30+ gallon tank on-board our trailer but since equines are inherently suspicious of anything unfamiliar, we carry 5 gallon containers that we prefer to fill at the pick-up facility so that the smell and taste of the water the equine is being provided is familiar which may encourage drinking during the transport and reduce the risk of dehydration.  Should there be any concern as to the amount of water being consumed during the transport or the hydration status of the equine, we carry a Purina product called “Hydration Hay” ( http://www.purinamills.com/horse-feed/products/hydration-hay-blocks/ )  According to the label, this hay product does contain Alfalfa, therefore any hypersensitivity to alfalfa should be documented on the Transport Contract.  We put a small amount of the Hydration Hay in a bucket and add a copious amount of water until its like a soup-like consistency.  In our experience, it doesn't take long for the equine to start drinking their "hay soup" and when the water level decreases we add more water.  We have used this product and method with several long-distance transports to combat dehydration and encourage water intake with great success.  We also encourage the client, upon veterinary consultation and approval, to supplement the equine with electrolytes for several days prior to transport and continue the supplementation during the transport and for a several days after the equine's arrival.  Clients may also want to discuss with their veterinarian, based on the history of the equine, if other supplementation for travel is needed (i.e. probiotics, ulcer medications, joint supplements, prescribed medications, etc.)  In some, if not all, states, the administration of certain supplements and medications, especially prescribed medications, can be considered "practicing veterinary medicine" which is acceptable if it is an animal that is owned by the person administering the supplements or medications.  However, if we are to provide certain supplements or medications during the transport, we require the request and instructions be documented in the Transport Contract and may request a letter from the attending veterinarian if necessary since the administration of such supplements or medications by someone other than the owner of the animal or licensed veterinarian may be considered unlawful.  If the equine will need to be fed a grain ration during transport, we will request that the client or client’s agent put each ration, including supplements, into separate sealed and labeled bags or containers for individual feedings.  All the preparations and precautions that we take prior to and during transport lessens the chance of mistakes and further guarantees that the equine is receiving the care and attention to detail that it deserves.    


Stall Bedding and Sanitation

     Our trailer is bedded with shavings for each transport.  If multiple transports are being handled during one trip, we make every attempt to rid the bedding of any manure or urine saturated areas prior to a new equine entering the trailer.  If there is a reason why an equine cannot be transported with shavings in the trailer, we will accommodate the request and leave the trailer floor bare or use straw at the request of the client.  The trailer floor is constructed from a recycled rubber product called "RUMBER" ( www.rumber.com ) and is textured on the top surface to provide some traction.  Whenever possible, if we are handling the pick-up and drop-off of more than one equine during a transport route, we will completely strip the stall area of all bedding, sanitize the area, and re-bed the stall with clean bedding.  If stripping the stall area is not possible, we pick-through the bedding in the stall area to the best of our ability.  Although we require and review the health records of each equine prior to loading, the documentation of vaccinations, blood tests, and health exams, that does not guarantee there is no associated health risk.  To lessen the risk of communicable diseases and parasites being transmitted from one equine to the next, the surfaces in the equine area, water buckets, hay nets, and bedding are sprayed with a veterinarian approved, clinical disinfectant/sanitizer/deodorizer, prior to loading new equines for transport.  The liquid product that we use is not harmful to animals and is used in diagnostic laboratories and veterinary hospitals.       


Equine Leg Protection Recommendation

     To reduce the risk or severity of any leg injuries due to unforeseen occurrences during transport, we highly recommend that the equines wear shipping boots or other leg protection, however this decision is ultimately left at the client's discretion.  The unforeseen occurrences can be anything from a vehicle accident to the equine being startled and kicking at the wall.  If the equine is not accustomed to wearing protective leg wraps or boots, we highly recommend that the leg wear be applied several times in the weeks prior to the transport, or before, and the equine allowed to walk around, back up, turn, and move freely until comfortable and standing calmly.  If you have never introduced leg wear to an equine before it can be unpredictable and it is recommended that you consult the advice of someone who has a lot of experience in desensitizing equines in the safest manner possible.  Often, the equines initial reaction to the leg wear can be awkward and sometimes concerning in appearance due to the way an equine moves around when first wearing leg protection...picture a "cat with tape on its paws trying to walk", in fact some equines will try to kick out with their rear legs or stomp with their front legs in an attempt to get the leg protection off.  It is a good idea to just allow the equine to move around, restrained with a lead rope, and graze in a familiar area, or with a "buddy", for a while making this a more pleasant experience.  This will prepare the equine to wear leg protection during transport and remain calm, comfortable, and better protected. 


Rest and Recovery Breaks During Transport

     We make every effort to stop for at least 15-20 minutes each time we refuel (about every 250-300 miles) so that the equine(s) being transported can have a break from having to balance, stabilize, or re-adjust positions and just relax, allowing their muscles some time to recuperate, as well as time to eat and drink since some equines refuse to do so while the trailer is moving.  Whenever possible, we will not leave the trailer unattended for any longer than is necessary for the driver to take a break, get snacks or a meal-to-go, and pay for fuel.  If the trailer must be left unattended, the doors of the trailer are secured and locked for the safety of the equine(s) on-board.   


Layover Policy

     If the transport is going to be longer than 10 hours we reserve the right to layover and continue the transport the following day.  The decision to layover will be made based on the duration of the transport, any unforeseen delays (traffic backups, accidents, mechanical issues, detour, etc.), the overall health and well-being of the equine(s), and the physical ability of the driver(s).  If we need to layover during the transport, the chosen locations will either be owned or operated by close friends/relatives, highly recommended by people we know personally and value their opinions, that we have thoroughly researched and referenced with local veterinarians and equine professionals.  Our priorities when selecting locations for layovers are safety, construction, sanitation, accessibility for large transport rigs, security, and amenities for both equines and humans.  If possible, we prefer to stay on-site, in the sleeping quarters of our trailer, at the layover location to check on the equine(s) in our care, custody, and control throughout the night.  Layovers allow the equine(s) time to rest, lay down, move around, stretch, eat and drink to physically and mentally recharge so they are relaxed and ready for the next leg of the transport.  If we are aware of certain issues or concerns prior to the transport, such as a transport duration close to the 10-hour time frame or an equine with a pre-existing injury or medical condition, will consult with the client about their preference for either a layover or driving point to point and we will make a decision that is best for the equine while still trying to respect the clients input.  In addition, as another emergency preparedness measure, we gather information on veterinary resources along the travel route and record their contact information for quick reference in the event of an emergency.  


Emergency Preparedness

     Should the unexpected occur or an accident happen, we secure in the rear window of the trailer an "I-C-E" (In Case of Emergency) form and a "POA" (Limited Power of Attorney for Animal Care) form that are part of the comprehensive Transport Contract.  The ICE form includes information on each equine (description, medical history, insurance information, approved medical expense limit, etc.), equine owner/agent, regular attending veterinarian, emergency transport contact, and emergency contacts in the event the owner/agent cannot be reached.  This form can be used by emergency responders, veterinarians, or whoever will be in contact with the equine during an emergency to refer to for information so that arrangements for the equine can be made should the occupants of the towing vehicle be unable to communicate because of the accident.  The "POA" form (Limited Power of Attorney for Animal Care) enables 4HFES and NCSMART, LLC in the event of an accident, in which we are still able to communicate, to consult with the attending veterinarian and make decisions directly related to the equines medical care, on your behalf, within the constraints documented on the emergency forms, should we be unable to make contact in a timely manner.  There is nothing worse than after an accident where the occupants of the vehicle are incapacitated or absent from the scene, the equine is left with nobody knowing who the owner is, who to notify, to what extent to authorize veterinary treatment versus euthanasia and by what authority are those decisions made, etc. 


Liability Insurance

    We maintain a current Commercial Liability Policy with Markel Insurance, a well-known and reputable insurance agency that caters to equine owners and professionals.  Our policy covers, in addition to the basic coverage, medical/injury/illness coverage per equine not owned by us that is in our care, custody, and control should anything occur during transport leading to the serious illness, injury, or death of the equine.  Maximum coverage is $25,000.00 per equine therefore should the equine be valued greater than that amount we recommend that the client, owner, or their agents seek separate and additional insurance coverage prior to the transport date and include that information on the Transport Contract.  This coverage is only valid during the time the equine is in the care, custody, and control of representatives of 4HFES and NCSMART, LLC.  Every effort will be taken to ensure the equines are handled and transported as safely as possible, however we all know accidents can happen no matter the amount of effort put forth to prevent them.


Considerations if Choosing Another Transport Company or Private Hauler

     If, for whatever reason, you choose not to join our clientele of extremely satisfied equines and equine owners, please make sure you thoroughly research any transport company, private or commercial that you hire.  Make certain and ensure that your equines safety, physical and mental health and well-being are the top priorities and that what you have been told or read about that company’s or person’s services are not just merely “words”.  There are a lot of haulers that appear to be better than they truly are and we have seen and heard accounts of equines being mistreated and handled roughly, arriving at the destination injured or in poor condition, requiring medical attention, arriving days late or not at all with little to no communication between client and transporter, etc.  Your equine doesn't have a choice, but you do...make it the best one for your equine’s sake, even if it is not with our company.

     For those who would like to choose our company to transport their equine(s) but our schedule will not permit us to handle the transport in accordance with the client’s timeline, we will gladly recommend a select few companies to contact.  The private companies we recommend are owned and operated by people we know personally and have had a good professional relationship with for several years.  These private companies share some of our philosophies and have safe, spacious trailers.  We would not think twice about loading our personal equines on their trailers and allowing them to transport our “hooved family” from coast to coast if we couldn’t transport them ourselves.  The commercial companies that we recommend are companies that we have researched and have found to be the safest and most reliable commercial equine transport companies in operation today.  Even with our recommendations, we still encourage anyone who is looking for a transporter to do their own extensive research and background checks.      


Should you have any additional questions or concerns relating to equine transportation or regarding any of our other services please do not hesitate to contact us directly!