I am one of those who usually ships to a hunt with their horse tacked up and untacked on the way home.
I trailered home after my hunt on Saturday. It was a cold, cold day probably warming up to about 30 degrees. I had only a 15 minute drive home and on the way back I heard my horse kicking around in the trailer. I was only 5 minutes from home so I kept going.
When I opened the side door upon arrival, I had a terrible shock. While I'd loaded my horse on the driver's side of the trailer, he was now standing on the right . His halter was empty and dangling from the trailer tie (despite the fact that I use velco ties) and the front bar on the passenger side was down. This is a Hawk 2 horse where the dividing bar does not go to the floor.
This is a big horse. Think 16.2 Trakehner built like a tank. The only thing that I can imagine is that because of the cold, and because he peed in the trailer after the hunt, the floor had an icy spot that caused him to lose his footing and slide under the divider . Miracle of all miracles he doesn't have a mark on him. I haven't tried riding him yet, but he's walking/trotting sound in the field and seems fine. I've gone over him with a microscope and given him a full massage and so far, no sign of injury. I have been leaving offerings to the horse gods because I know I could have lost this wonderful horse to this accident.
I felt absolutely terrible because it never occurred to me to check the trailer floor after the tea. I'd left him in their about 45 minutes and after giving him a pat and closing up the side door, I just drove home. The entire trip was on back roads where I was going maybe 35 mph and there were no sharp turns.
I may need to rethink hauling when tacked. It would only have made the situation worse .
hand on heart...I remember trailering to a horse trials...I heard a bit of noise but then all went quiet...when I open the trailer door on arrival, my horse was on his back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Honest to god, I still cannot figure out HOW he could have managed that!!! I would not believe it had I not saw it with my own eyes...but it is true. I removed the divider and he rolled over, shock himself clean and proudly walked off the ramp like NOTHING happened...I put him in his stall and got an "Adult Bevie" to calm my nerves.
I'm curious if you had bedding in the trailer or just matts?
I've been tempted to truck without shavings or straw down in the trailer because it appears to be so much easier to clean out. My biggest concern has been exactly what happened to your horse. They almost always pee in the comfort of the trailer and I really believe that makes the matts very slick without bedding. Even in warm temps I've found that our ramp gets slippery when wet and when it's really cold it could become a mini ice rink back there.
About ten years ago I had a horse fall in my two horse trailer & there was a second horse on the passenger side. It was pretty tricky getting them out because the down horse was halfway under the other horse and couldn't get up until the standing horse was removed. Fortunately she was a very sensible gal and managed to back off without stepping on any piece of her companion. I don't know why she fell but it hasn't stopped me from shipping to every hunt with tack on. Bad things happen even when we do the best we can to prevent them but I still see more pros than cons to tacking up at home. I pray I never have another horse go down again. I will continue to bed my trailer and drive with caution to prevent that but... I don't think it's going to change my tacking up at home.
I hope your horse is okay!
I had similar and just as scary experience. My daughter's horse was sleepy (I think) and I had to break a little suddenly but nothing dramatic. She fell down - the scary part was the trailer tie did not break, her breakaway halter did not break and she was on the floor with her head cocked up on the breast bar. I unhooked her, while hysterical daughter tried to help, dropped the breast bar and she stood right up. Somehow in the process I broke my finger but the pony was fine !! 100 % perfect. It took me months before I was not a complete wreck pulling the trailer. If she had not stayed still (and surprisingly calm) I think she could have broken her neck. Luckily she wasn't tacked up either.
An off-topic question - how many of y'all have your tack insured? I never worry about my tack being stolen or damaged in an accident - it's on my farm policy. Not to imply I'm cavalier about my tack - far from it.
The mats that are one-piece, NEED shavings or sawdust. Doesn't seem to matter what kind of grippy tread they have. I would strongly advise AGAINST EVER using straw bedding in the trailer. Straw is extremely slippery, very easy to have a horse down when used in the trailer. One of my horses slipped, fell with straw bedding, while truck was parked! Upside down, legs straight up! Lucky for me, some helpful motorcycle guys helped me. We pulled her head up and over her butt, head first and straight out the back on the ramp. Also lucky she was not too big, 900#. Never used straw in under a horse in transport again!
When we bed the trailer (every trip with horse) we bed deeply. I want sawdust up over his hooves. Shavings need to also be deep, maybe sprinkled so they don't blow around in any drafts. Horse needs enough bedding so there is something to absorb the liquid they may pee in trailer. With sufficient bedding, there are NO PUDDLES to freeze and make a skating surface to slip on. Sawdust freezes in clumps, with rough surface on any icy parts. Gives horse grip.
The very old trailer mats, with rubber cut in strips, held together with wires, were not slippery. Didn't seem to matter if they were wet or dry, horses didn't slip on them. Really hard to find anymore, limited life before wires broke. Sure saved time though, not having to bed trailer. Newer mats are one piece, don't drain. Slippery with only fog in the air! After horse pees on them, it is very slippery, cold weather or not They MUST be bedded adequately to keep horses safe and upright in even slow, gentle trips. Borium, even road studs, don't seem to grab on those solid mats. Bedding the trailer removes any slipping problem for our horses.
Glad your horses seem to have come out of their accidents with few problems.
Wow, glad all turned out well. Sounds to me like a freak, one in a million thing. Could happen to any of us. I did watch one horse's head disappear once, heading down the highway, he threw himself down (also a partition that didn't go to the floor). He wasn't tied so no hangup problems, but I had to unload his Mom from the right and swing the partition over, so he could get up. Like yours, not a scratch. Closer inspection showed a wasp's nest behind the spare tire, poor guy had been stung, we assume. But he got right back in and we went on our merry way.
Same horse, different occasion, same trailer, I threw him in without the partition- had removed it for some reason and didn't put it back before that hunting morning. I did have him tied since the partition was out. Going around I-495 at oh-dark-hundred, I thought people were awfully friendly and amazed at the trailer, waving, smiling, generally seeming goofy. Get to meet, still pretty dark mind you, open escape door to untie head and...meet horse's butt. The little stinker had slipped his halter and tippie-toed around in the trailer, without my feeling a thing, and was riding down the road with his head and shoulders out the back. He was happy, his public was happy, what can I say.
But, a serious caution in the event of mishap- if you feel a wreck happening, first, pull to a safe place, well off whatever road or highway you are on, however long that takes, and then stop. Do NOT open ANY doors if there is thrashing or commotion. You will only make a panicky horse more panicky, and could be seriously injured in the process.
PS I have never used shavings in my two horse trailers. For one, not necessary, for two, I'd be concerned about the shavings swirling around and getting them in the eye, given the open backs of the trailers and general air flow. So far, so good.
Last edited by Beverley; Nov. 26, 2007 at 10:52 PM.
Reason: Adding a PS
I use Turtle Snaps trailer ties just for this reason. These snaps will hold tight under normal pressure, but will release under an extreme load (horse falls, panics, etc). One of my worst fears is having a horse fall in the trailer.
I also use a good amount of shavings, and my trailer has a WERM floor, which is more textured than mats. My gelding pees in the trailer a lot so I take that into consideration in bedding the trailer, and also when I was making my trailer selection.
I was coming back from a show last year with my favorite hunt horse, and we had to stop short because someone turned in front of us. I heard something in the trailer, so the lady I ride for, who was driving, stopped and I went to look. Well, in the 4 horse head to head, it was in the driver side facing backwards. When I walked in, it was standing forwards and in the aisle area!! I guess he turned and flipped. He got adjusted and LOTS of bute that night.
They are worth their weight in gold and can be had for a few hundred dollars. They can be hardwired into the trailer or work off a battery pack. The monitor runs off the cigarette lighter in the truck.
Very glad your horse fared well in this mishap... what a scare though!
I have a question for those of you who bed (shavings/sawdust) over mats -- actually two questions. (1) Are all of you in climates where pee or other moisture could FREEZE on the mats and (2) since I am just a visitor to this forum, not someone who hunts -- is it likely that a horse would need to pee after a day of hunting? I have hauled my horses to trails, vets and clinics and NONE of them ever peed in the trailer. It's as if they cross their legs.
With no freezing temps (or at least so few that I've never hauled in them) and no pee in the trailer, I have never put down shavings, since I felt that the risk of blowing in their eyes or nose was more serious than the risk of them slipping. So I'd be curious to know your situation(s).
Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.
From the beginning of trailer training, I always bed over mats, so horse won't slip. I want him to regard trailer as his second home, has food, is comfortable enough to pee in there. While we may do short hauls, he is most likely to be in there for a while. I want him to pee when he needs to, so there are not problems from urine retention over long times. For us, the horses usually need to go, every couple hours. This is good, they drink well, then have to go. Shows me everything is working well inside horse.
All but one have been fine doing this. That one, a purchased horse, would not pee unless he could REEAALLLY stretch out. This was like a show pony, on tippy toes behind. So we learned we would have to drop the butt bar in the 4-horse, to give him enough room. We got very nervous with him hauling home right after buying him. On a 12 hour trip, he did NOT pee. This was after drinking VERY well on every stop, which happens about every 2-3 hourse. He had probably drank 4-5 times, a 5-gallon bucket full each. It was very hot out, July. We always stop often, give them a chance to drink and pee. His eyeballs must have been floating!! We hustled the last couple hours home, to get him out of the trailer. He walked into a stall, stretching out as he went, and FINALLY went as his nose reached the far corner. Some horses get weird habits, you have to work with horse, so he will pee in trailer as often as possible. No problems going once WE learned to take down the butt bar for him.
A number of horses don't like being splashed while peeing, as happens with no bedding on mats. Won't go in trailer then, if splashing happens a few times in the trailer with no bedding. A sprinkle of sawdust or shavings just is not enough. As I said previously, I want the bedding to be hoof deep, so it is grippy, absorbent, no splashing happens.
I am up north, MI, where we do get freezing temps. I don't want any icy pee spots under my horses to slip on during his rides. Wet is absorbed with deeper bedding.
I watched one of my horses slide down the ramp on the rubber matting. The morning fog had made it slick in the short time from putting ramp down, to untying and backing horse out. We put cleats on ramp after. However with that little amount of water on rubber, there was no way she could grip, even shod. Showed me just how easy rubber mats are to slip on when damp! Sure don't want anyone going down in the trailer if it is preventable, so they are bedded every trip.
I have sawdust available, usually use it, actually prefer it on trailer trips. Sometimes have to use shavings to get home from overnights. If needed, you can sprinkle a bit of water on them to lay the dust, keep bedding in place. I always find shavings to be dustier to use, need dampening. Being damp helps hold them down, yet still absorbent. You can put a fly mask on for eye protection if you want.
Our smaller trailer is slat sided, makes good air flow in summer heat. We put boards over slats in winter so it is not drafty. I have not had problems with bedding blowing around, even with the open sides, all kinds of roads. None in the mangers. They are tied in place for every trip.
I don't put bedding in the trailer - but the horse I hunt hates to pee if he's going to splash himself. Another horse I have lets loose with no problem - but he gets the winter off so I don't count him. I don't know about the third - he's just started under saddle so I don't know what he'll do.
I know some folks that train their horses to pee when they whistle.
not a fox hunter but a distance rider who trails a lot chiming in
and i bed the trailer all year round. she always wears a fly mask on the trailer to prevent any dust or insects from getting into her eyes. i want my mare to be as comfortable as possible on that trailer and to feel free to pee poop or whatever. which she does gladly
i'm so glad that your horse escaped uninjured.
i don't know how many of you recall the story from earlier this year of a horse that jumped out of the trailer while the trailer and truck were in motion on a highway? she ended up with bad case of road rash but apparently no major injuries. it was absolutely horrific to read the owner's description of looking in a rear view mirror and seeing her horse tumbling behind the trailer!!!!
I had something similar happen like that before, My old TB who is now passed, fell down, while the trailer was stopped in a parking lot at the vet's office, waiting to be unloaded for his appointment. I have a 2 horse ramp load, and another horse on the trailer, and somehow my 16 hand TB manged to fall, slip under the chest bar and was basically upside down in the trailer, one of the vet's assistants helped my dad and I pull him out of the human escape door-it has huge escape doors. My TB came out with some scratches and hair loss from being pulled. My other horse just stood in there quietly as can be. Good thing he was already at the vet's office! LOL they laughed when we told them what he did. He was on bute for a week or so, and was just fine.
All I can say is use leather. Leather halters are the best when trailering because it will break under pressure. Nylon is a no no. It usually does not break and the fittings end up snaping first. The twine in between the cross tie and trailer is good as well because it snaps under pressure.
Bedding and rubber mats are the way to travel. Make sure there is enough bedding to absorde the pee to keep it form getting slipery.
When on the road drive defensivly, keep a lot of room between you and other cars for sudden stops and always have you lights on.
The mats that are one-piece, NEED shavings or sawdust.
I haven't found this to be the case. My two horse Shoop bumper pull has a one piece mat, and in the 14 years I've been using it, no horse has ever had a slippage problem, and a wide variety of horses has been in it. They do sometimes slip on the ramp if it is wet from precipitation, but so far that hasn't been a big deal, they learn and don't slip a second time!
As I indicated in an earlier post, my trailer's not conducive to adding shavings anyway, as the shavings would swirl about and potentially cause eye problems. I occasionally haul, on my little hunting tours, a minimum of 8 hours a day, sometimes every second or third day for a couple of weeks. Those horses who don't mind the splash, pee at will (it does drain adequately even with the one piece mat). Many, my now retired guy in particular, don't wish to pee or poop in the trailer if they know they are going to be in there all day. So, while they typically munch hay at will, they don't drink much water on the road, if any- they seem to have a clue on the connection between intake and outflow. They have taught me not to obsess about their not drinking water for 8 or even 10 hours. They are well hydrated when they get on the trailer and happy as clams for the entire ride. They drink up at destination. So far, so good, in I don't know how many thousands of miles of long distance travel.
I would add that in addition to my own trailer, hauling in a variety of trailers and vans with others since oh, the mid-60s, nobody's every used shavings. Some used straw in the old Imperatores. The use of shavings, particularly for short commutes is something I've noticed only in the last several years.
My personal bottom line on shavings, based on my experiences and observations: Nice touch, if one is using an enclosed trailer, but hardly necessary.