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View Full Version : Mare started kicking like crazy in trailer



dogbluehorse
Jul. 19, 2012, 07:46 AM
I have a mare (had her for about a year), she was OK initially but then started kicking in the trailer one day when it was hot and we were stuck in traffic. Didn't do it for a while, then started again more recently. She seems to do it more when she is hot, or by herself. But this morning (relatively cool morning) loaded her first to go to a show (into 3 horse slant load, first stall has solid divider, wanted her in that one so if she does start kicking she doesn't kick the other horse I am taking), and when I went to get the other horse to load, she started kicking violently then jumped out of the trailer over the breast bar (there is a small escape door to the first stall which I had left open to keep her happy, ha!, while I fetched the other horse). Almost gave me a heart attack. She is kind of OK, a bit scraped up on her hip, withers and face, but seems sound etc. Not sure what on earth to do now. She had her ovaries out last April (before I got her), but started going in heat this Spring, which can apparently happen amazingly enough, so we started giving her Regumate which seemed to help at first, but she is back to being mare-ish (which I think is precipitating trailer behavior). Seems like a very complicated problem, have no idea what ideas anyone might have, but figured no harm in asking!

SuckerForHorses
Jul. 19, 2012, 08:25 AM
My mare has the same issue, only in a slant, never in a straight load.

A few years ago, we trailered her with a gelding, and there was no divider (it was a straight load). Stupid idea, lesson learned. Anyways, they basically went at it in the trailer, and he ended up biting her. We stopped immediately because we could feel them back there, and were able to put her in the front section, him in the back, and tie them so they couldn't touch each other. It was cramped, the trailer was not designed to have horses this way, but my mare is a small arab so it worked.

Flash forward...now, I cannot put my mare in my slant load, in the front, because as soon as she hears a horse's hooves step into that trailer, she kicks the SHAT out of my trailer...I don't care about the trailer, I care about her snapping a bone!

Now, I have to trailer her in the last slant; but sometimes, she still kicks while we're driving down the road. Not always, and usually only at the beginning of the ride.

Even if she is alone, and i leave the slant divider open, so she can stand however she wants, she will kick the wall.


A friend's horse also travelled fine in the front slant when we were headed to drop her horse and my horse off at a trainer 2 hours away. Her mare was fine in the front slant from her house to my house (where we were picking up my gelding). Didn't even know she was there. We loaded my gelding in the back (slant divider was between them). About a mile out of town, her mare starting kicking the trailer so hard and fast repetitively, we had to stop on the side of hte main road and unload my gelding before she broke her leg kicking the wall. She waited with my gelding while I brought her mare to my house and unloaded her (trailered there just fine once she was by herself again). We made the trip to the trainers with my gelding, and the mare had to be shipped up the next day, alone. I don't know what the deal was. She had never acted mareish before, and I've never seen a horse try to do so much damage to a trailer.

SuckerForHorses
Jul. 19, 2012, 08:26 AM
Let me know if you figure out something that works; I'd love to hear a solution!

Bluey
Jul. 19, 2012, 08:44 AM
We had a little black TB mare we started and ran and hauled all over to races without any problems ever.

We bred her to our stallion, then sold her to a neighbor.
He came to get her in his stock trailer and, as he was pulling away from the barn, she turned into a wild thing in there and kicked violently, so unlike her.

She put a foot thru the middle gate of the stock trailer, we had to get the cutting torch to take it apart and get her loose.

She had some light cuts and her hind legs swelled, but nothing was broken, she was eventually fine.
The neighbor came back to get her once she was healed and hauled her loose in the stock trailer without her moving at all.

We could never figure what set her off and, according to the neighbor, she never again did that, but he also never did haul her enclosed in a trailer.

Maybe you could try different ways to haul those kicking mares, why is it always mares, until you find a safe way to haul her and stick with it?

siegi b.
Jul. 19, 2012, 08:45 AM
Put the horse in a 2-horse trailer with the mid-section removed and do not tie her. Some horses are claustrophobic and shipping them loose sometimes alleviates that problem.

Good luck!

Valentina_32926
Jul. 19, 2012, 08:47 AM
I'd start by ensuring that there is no wasp nest in the trailer (underneath the floor where you can't readily see it??). If that doesn't work perhaps put kicking chain on her back legs before loading her into trailer.

SuckerForHorses
Jul. 19, 2012, 08:49 AM
Put the horse in a 2-horse trailer with the mid-section removed and do not tie her. Some horses are claustrophobic and shipping them loose sometimes alleviates that problem.

Good luck!

In my case, my mare rides like a perfect lady in a 2-horse straight load, with a divider in place. I don't think its claustrophobia. She also kicks when the slant divider is open, meaning, her head is tied, but the rest of her has the entire stock trailer to move about as she feels comfortable. She still kicks.

She only does it in the beginning.

SuckerForHorses
Jul. 19, 2012, 08:49 AM
I'd start by ensuring that there is no wasp nest in the trailer (underneath the floor where you can't readily see it??). If that doesn't work perhaps put kicking chain on her back legs before loading her into trailer.

Checked. No nests of any kind.

What kind of chains? Cna you provide a link?

GoForAGallop
Jul. 19, 2012, 09:53 AM
Checked. No nests of any kind.

What kind of chains? Cna you provide a link?

Just Google "kicking chains."

My suggestion: who knows why she started kicking, who knows why most horses start kicking. But they (the kicking horses of the world) have been taught that kicking in the trailer/stall is something that gets them attention....positive or negative, it doesn't really always matter to a horse. Either they get food, or they get unloaded and turned out, or whatever.

So if it's just bad manners (vs a bug, an annoying neighbor, fear, etc) then the cycle needs to be broken. For trailering, I would go back to lessons about how to tie politely....because if the horse knows that when they're tied, they need to behave, then it won't matter WHERE they're tied. This is not "oh, Fluffy ties perfectly for the three minutes I tack up!" but "Oh, Fluffy will stand for hours." Suggestions on how to teach proper tying manners is a whole 'nother manner.

Another solution is to take away the "results" of kicking; the banging of the metal. My trailer has lovely rubber mats lining the walls, so any kick is just a dull thud. Horses don't seem to find it very enjoyable. You don't have to use heavy stall mats....look for some used exercise mats on craigslist, and try hanging those up and see what they do.

Yet another solution is to take the sickly sweet "Oh, you have so much energy, let me help you with that!" solution....make sure you do this on a day when you're NOT in a hurry to go anywhere...or even have anywhere to go. Put horse on trailer. Stand around twiddling your fingers until horse kicks. Go in, unclip, back horse out, lunge in a circle for five minutes at a trot, put horse back on trailer. Allow them to make the choice to stand there quietly...make the first time a small amount of time, ten minutes or so. If the horse kicks after the first lunging session, then immediately rinse and repeat, until the horse is happy to stand on the trailer, quietly.

I could go on and on with other methods, but the bottom line is that (barring any fear/outside triggers) a horse who kicks on the trailer has been taught that kicking produces some sort of results. Since, unlike a stall kicker who you can just blatantly ignore, you don't want your horse to get hurt on the metal trailer, you need to teach them that it's a good place, where they can rest and relax. Or at the very least, where they can stand quietly and polite, relaxed or not. :lol: This will pay off in spades at shows and if you ever go camping!

SuckerForHorses
Jul. 19, 2012, 11:23 AM
OP, sorry to hijack your thread, but I'm inserting some responses/questions below:


Just Google "kicking chains."

My suggestion: who knows why she started kicking, who knows why most horses start kicking. But they (the kicking horses of the world) have been taught that kicking in the trailer/stall is something that gets them attention....positive or negative, it doesn't really always matter to a horse. Either they get food, or they get unloaded and turned out, or whatever. Not in my case, I just keep driving along.

So if it's just bad manners (vs a bug, an annoying neighbor, fear, etc) then the cycle needs to be broken. For trailering, I would go back to lessons about how to tie politely....because if the horse knows that when they're tied, they need to behave, then it won't matter WHERE they're tied. This is not "oh, Fluffy ties perfectly for the three minutes I tack up!" but "Oh, Fluffy will stand for hours." Suggestions on how to teach proper tying manners is a whole 'nother manner. My mare stands quietly all day long. No fussing. Ever. She also stands quietly in the trailer; the only time she kicks is when we're moving.

Another solution is to take away the "results" of kicking; the banging of the metal. My trailer has lovely rubber mats lining the walls, so any kick is just a dull thud. Horses don't seem to find it very enjoyable. You don't have to use heavy stall mats....look for some used exercise mats on craigslist, and try hanging those up and see what they do. I don't think she's doing it to hear the noise of herself. If she was, she would be doing it all the time.

Yet another solution is to take the sickly sweet "Oh, you have so much energy, let me help you with that!" solution....make sure you do this on a day when you're NOT in a hurry to go anywhere...or even have anywhere to go. Put horse on trailer. Stand around twiddling your fingers until horse kicks. This won't work...she doesnt' kick while we're standing still. The only way this would work would be to stop the vehicle as soon as she kicks, unload her and lunge her in the road. So that won't work Go in, unclip, back horse out, lunge in a circle for five minutes at a trot, put horse back on trailer. Allow them to make the choice to stand there quietly...make the first time a small amount of time, ten minutes or so. If the horse kicks after the first lunging session, then immediately rinse and repeat, until the horse is happy to stand on the trailer, quietly.

I could go on and on with other methods, but the bottom line is that (barring any fear/outside triggers) a horse who kicks on the trailer has been taught that kicking produces some sort of results. Again, not in this case Since, unlike a stall kicker who you can just blatantly ignore, you don't want your horse to get hurt on the metal trailer, you need to teach them that it's a good place, where they can rest and relax. Or at the very least, where they can stand quietly and polite, relaxed or not. :lol: This will pay off in spades at shows and if you ever go camping!

Pretty sure my mare isn't doing it for attention, and she stands quietly in the trailer. She stands quietly everywhere. She loads on the trailer perfectly fine. She does not paw in the trailer. She only kicks when the trailer is MOVING.

Nothing is poking her, there are no nests, I always fly spray liberally so the buggers aren't bothering her in there. I have trailered her with the entire stock trailer open and she still kicks. She generally only does it at the start of a ride, and then remains quiet. HOwever, if we stop for a period of time and then start driving again (like stuck in traffic), she will kick when we first drive off. And its not just when the trailer starts to move, sometimes she does it a mile down the road and all of a sudden "BAM BAM BAM!" on the wall.

She will kick at the standstill if she is on first, and a horse is loaded on behind her. I think she is traumatized from when my friend's horse and her got into a battle in the trailer. Now, she is testy abotu horses loading on behind her. But this doesn't explain why she does it alone in a wide open trailer either.

Foxyrab
Jul. 19, 2012, 12:36 PM
So if it's just bad manners (vs a bug, an annoying neighbor, fear, etc) then the cycle needs to be broken.

If you've explored all other options...

Tap the brakes.

Don't slam on the brakes, don't tap the brakes hard enough that the horse will go down, don't make the trailer lurch.

Just TAP the brakes the instant you hear that first kick and every time thereafter. Cause and effect -- what would have been a nice smooth ride is now a little bit more uncomfortable, a little bit more unsteady when the horse kicks. You're making things a little unpleasant for the horse -- not putting him in danger.

They usually figure it out pretty quickly.

Simkie
Jul. 19, 2012, 12:39 PM
I had a horse that was like this. Kicked the mat of the ramp and straight through the wood underneath to the metal skin in a straight load once. Kicked his hind shoes off in a slant.

He was claustrophobic. He traveled fine loose in a stock trailer. It was the only way to keep him happy trailering.

GoForAGallop
Jul. 19, 2012, 01:16 PM
Pretty sure my mare isn't doing it for attention, and she stands quietly in the trailer. She stands quietly everywhere. She loads on the trailer perfectly fine. She does not paw in the trailer. She only kicks when the trailer is MOVING.



I originally wrote that post for the OP's situation, where the mare definitely sounds like she's just being a brat.

You have an excuse for every reason that your mare could be kicking. To me, just from what you typed and not able to see for myself if the horse is distressed in any manner, it sounds like she's being impatient/rude. I wouldn't be so sure that she doesn't view the banging as positive feedback. With her, I'd probably try Foxyrab's solution. My trailer is nice, I don't need horses denting it, your mileage might vary.

Or, out of curiousity in your situation, I might rig up a camera so that I could see exactly what was happening. It might be that the kicking is a response to imbalance, although if she's doing it while stopped in traffic I really doubt that that's the case.

SuckerForHorses
Jul. 19, 2012, 01:50 PM
I originally wrote that post for the OP's situation, where the mare definitely sounds like she's just being a brat.

You have an excuse for every reason that your mare could be kicking. To me, just from what you typed and not able to see for myself if the horse is distressed in any manner, it sounds like she's being impatient/rude. I wouldn't be so sure that she doesn't view the banging as positive feedback. With her, I'd probably try Foxyrab's solution. My trailer is nice, I don't need horses denting it, your mileage might vary.

Or, out of curiousity in your situation, I might rig up a camera so that I could see exactly what was happening. It might be that the kicking is a response to imbalance, although if she's doing it while stopped in traffic I really doubt that that's the case.

She does it if we stop for a period of time, then start driving again. Never while we're sitting still. And then, after she gets in a few good kicks, she stops.

I'll try the braking next time.

Too late on the dents...the side is full of them. If I get another slant load, it will have rubber lined walls at least. :mad:

Ambitious Kate
Jul. 19, 2012, 04:50 PM
I think the longeing exercise was meant to do at home. Of course you can't do it in traffic.

I would load her in with the divider up. If she is more contained, there is less room for her to deliver a good kick. She has enough room to stand and balance herself in a straight load with the divider up.

I would tie her to the outside fairly short when trailering with another horse, both of them to the outside, along with their hay, tied to the outside. If they cannot reach each other, they cannot bite or personally interact.

She does need negative consequences for her behaviour, and either continuing on without stopping or else doing an onsite training of removal and vigorous workout when she does it is good.

also, make sure you are on top of any kind of kicking off the trailer. for example, my gelding likes to paw alot - pawing in the cross ties, pawing while eating. I have been working on "No Paws!!" at all times. Including holding a dressage whip, and tapping his leg or chest when he paws. He personally knows that pawing is a no no. Currently, he doesn't paw when I am standing near him, so he gets it.

In a trailer, he is anxious and his anxiety produces a paw. He raised his leg high to paw the other day in the trailer, and the BO was standing in front of him. She growled and he dropped his leg. He does know not to do it. Later, while still in the trailer, he raised his leg to paw, and no one was in the trailer but suddenly I poked my head in the trailer and glared at him. His leg was raised to paw, and he held it there, trembling, and dropped his eyes, and his leg shook he wanted to paw so bad, but slowly he lowered his leg. It was quite funny.

That mare should not raise her leg to kick for any reason whatsoever. If you put her in the trailer, you can stand there with a dressage whip (long, to reach) and tap her, or reprimand her if she so much as pretends to kick. The movement should be followed by an instant "NO!!!" and a tap with the whip to which she must respond. If she doesn't, then she issn't responding to these commands outside of the trailer, either. You can work on it by asking her to move her feet on the longe line, or in bridle, by tapping on her gaskin, and asking her to move away from you. When a horse is asked to move his legs while you stand still (you are holding her bridle close at the bit) you are being dominant and he/she HAS to give. If she doesn't, she is challenging you and you have to work on this.

You must train her to do as asked with her legs. If you work on this long enough, you can train her not to kick in the trailer, but she has to know that you mean business, and the negative consequences which ensue are directly caused by her behaviour.

Foxtrot's
Jul. 19, 2012, 05:18 PM
Have you tried changing stalls - some horses cannot ride in the right hand side, some cannot travel with the divider to the ground. Is she kicking, or scrambling.
Is your driving perfect...slow, smooth, breaking, accelerating, turning corners.
Coffee cup on the dashboard slow?