Zelda and I have something in common: trailering anxiety. It was her anxiety while trailering last year that prompted me to have her scoped for ulcers. She’s never been bad about getting on the trailer, but sometimes she would tremble as she stood there, and on the way home she would move around a lot.
Guess what. I hate trailering, too. In my opinion, it’s the most dangerous part of every off-property ride. The thought of my horse riding in a steel box surrounded by the crazy drivers that are on the roads, makes me feel sick. I didn’t used to be this worried, but the anticipation of something maybe going wrong is terrifying. I am a super careful driver, my truck and trailer are well maintained, I have a weight distributing hitch with sway bars, and I have a camera in the back, so I can see she’s safe, and yet . . . if something happened to her while we were trailering, I would be beside myself.
Back to Zelda. Brainstorming with the vet, we were not sure if the trailering was the issue, or whether hunting (which comes after trailering) was making her feel anxious. She’s always been great in the hunt field, but last year she started misbehaving — she got very strong and opinionated to the point where I started looking for bigger, better bits.
The vet suggested giving her a bit of Ace and taking her for a few easy rides. So last week, I showed up at the barn with the trailer and no place to go. When Zelda hears the trailer come up the driveway, she starts to get keyed up. For a horse that never misses a meal, the fact she doesn’t want to eat is a dead giveaway. Don’t get me wrong. She never objects to getting on the trailer. She walks on with no problem.
So, I gave her a cc of Ace, then stuck her on the trailer with a hay bag full of alfalfa (her favorite). Then I left her.
It just so happened that the horses had done a number on the fencing — the electric charger had stopped working and in addition to bringing down the now non electric tape, they’d also turned the wooden fence line into their own pick up sticks game.
So Zelda stood on the trailer while I fixed the fence and while Freedom ran back and forth and called incessantly to her. In the beginning, she trembled.
Eventually, she got bored and ate the hay. She must have been on that trailer for at least an hour so I don’t know exactly when she transitioned from anxiety to acceptance, but she no longer trembled when I went to check on her. In fact, she even ate her breakfast while standing on the trailer.
I’m going to continue taking her on non-trips and non-hunting trips (today we went to a hunter pace, where, after she stopped looking for the hounds she got very chill).
As for me? I wish I could take a cc of Ace! That’s not in the cards, so I’m just taking it easy and sticking to smaller roads where I don’t have to deal with Covidiots who are still driving 85 MPH.
I also hope that more work is done to make horse trailers safer. I wrote about one company that’s been working on improving horse trailer designs. It’s long overdue. Perhaps, if I had a gooseneck trailer I’d feel more secure but mostly I want to put bubble wrap around both of us.
How about you and your horse? Is trailering an issue for either of you?