Last winter I had a terrifying experience when trailering my horse. I loaded him up after the last hunt of the season, enjoyed a lively tea, and after checking on my boy, drove the five or so miles home. About half way there, I heard some kicking. I didn’t stop as we were almost home, and since the trip was on back roads, my top speed was about 30 mph.
When I arrived at the barn, I went back to open the side door so he could see we were back. To my horror, he wasn’t standing on the driver’s side of the trailer (where I’d loaded him) but on the passenger’s side. His halter was hanging from the trailer tie (I use velcro ties, but it hadn’t disengaged) and the front bar of the stall he was in was hanging down.
You have to understand that my horse is not small. He’s about 16.2 and probably weighs close to 1400 lbs. I have a Hawk trailer with a partition in the middle. It’s a large enough trailer, but not huge. He had fallen under the partition and come up on the other side! He stood there, eyes bugging out breathing hard.
I must say that I just couldn’t move at first. It felt like I stood there for several minutes, although it probably was not longer than 30 seconds. I grabbed his halter, did a visual check of him in the trailer, and carefully unloaded him. To my immense relief, he walked off with all four legs working normally and no visible injuries. I went over him carefully and other than his obvious distress, he was okay. At the advice of my vet, I gave him several days off, some bute, and lots of TLC.
The obvious question though was, why did it happen? I’ve had the same horse and the same trailer for the past 10 years. The trip was less than five miles and it was undertaken at slow speeds with no quick turns or sharp stops. My only conclusion is that he had peed in the trailer after the hunt. Since it was a cold day, the pee (and shavings) had frozen and created a slippery surface and he had lost his footing and fallen.
I have always been cautious when trailering my horses as the risks involved in pulling your horse at high speeds in a steel box have always seemed high to me. This incident has reinforced my intent to make trailering as safe as possible. To that end, my next few postings will be on the art of trailering safely.