I have a very fidgety horse in the trailer. He loads perfectly calm and confident as well as unloads great. While in the trailer he chews on anything he can grab and paws badly, and very high. Last year he pawed so high he got his fool caught in the haybag and kicked the window out with his front foot, fell and suffered a few lacerations and some swelling, all in all we were very lucky. We cut him out and unloaded him on the side of the road to reload him in a different stall (since the window was gone) and to give him a quick once over. He unloaded and reloaded fine. He obsessively chews on anything. He has caused so many problems that I have become very nervous to trailer him. I do use a trailer camera now. My vet said I could used a quarter or so dosage of dormosadan gel to trailer him. We used it in the past with his rehab from a tendon injury. I am just curious if anyone else has used it trailering and how it affected their horse. Any other ideas for distracting him in the trailer is welcome as well. We usually haul to shows between 1 and 3 hours from our home.
First, I would try him in a stock trailer where there is no risk of him getting a leg over the chest bar and can stand in whatever position he chooses.
If that fails, I would try the vet's suggestion, but just near home. Give him the vet's recommended dose, wait the suggested time (I think its 40 minutes) then take him for a ride around the block and see what happens.
Just keep in mind that it isn't a permanent solution because dorm is a short-acting tranq, and therefore has a 7 day withdrawal time for showing (USEF, and anything that follows USEF rules).
We originally was in a stock trailer and he was worse, right now he is in an 8 foot tall slant load with no chest bars and a break away hay manger. We did try leaving him untied, he mostly would pick on the other horses, stick his head under the hay manger and fling it up in the air. We started tying him again. I was curious about the withdraw time. I think I will do a trial run.
I've used 1/3 tube on a horse that was a big bully about trailering and who had his owner's number and HAD to be moved that day. Worked fine. A good "come to Jesus" would also have been adequate, but as I said, the horse had to go that day, and NOBODY scolded Precious.
Has the horse been trailered much? Sooner or later he has to work out his issues--can't drug them for trailering forever. What kind of work have you done with the horse to make him more relaxed/comfortable about trailering?
Thank you, I am glad to hear others have used it. Yes, I will be showing but I am hoping that I can wean him off it before any rated shows. "fingers crossed". I know there is a 7 day period for getting it out of the system at full dose. Not sure what it is for a low dose. He also does better with other horses in the trailer but most of the people at my barn either do not show a lot, show other circuits or prefer to trailer their own horses. (I know how they feel, I prefer to haul as well).
Just as an experiment, it would be interesting to haul him in a straight load for a short trip to see if that changed his behavior in any way. I'm thinking in terms of perhaps the slant load position is causing him some balance issues that might be changed with a straight load, where he could brace better against the chest or butt bars.
Not a long-term solution unless you are prepared to go trailer shopping, but it might be some more information to lead you towards a solution.
"Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
- Desiderata, (c) Max Ehrman, 1926
I would not put a hay net in with him, boot him and put a head bumper on him too. How was he worse in a stock trailer? Was he tied or loose?
Seems there would be less trouble for him to get into in a stock/box situation.
You could always try using a little bit of the gel to take the edge off and loading him for a short trip around the block. Keep him calm and collected for the whole of it, and then let him be done. You can try building up the length of these trips gradually.
For any horse that paws badly and/or has a history of injuring himself, I would use shipping boots and a head bumper, no question.
I really like the gel for this type of thing... seems to take that edge off that you need, but doesn't make them so dopey they can't stand up. The thing I have found most interesting is they seem to learn and remember when using the gel. We have a gelding at the barn with horrible separation anxiety from his pasture buddy. We gave the gel a try, and took the buddy out on a trail ride. Instead of running the fenceline screaming, he just looked up and called once, and went back to his grazing. The best part was that this lesson stuck, and his anxiety has significantly decreased since, without any meds in his system.
Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.
I haven't used it for shipping, but I have used it for clipping and other things. My concern may just be because of my horse's response to it. Yes he becomes nice and dopey, however when he comes out of it, he gets pretty whacky. He does paw but is controlled however when the Dorm gel wears off he paws aggressively, bites, swings his hips aggressively. I don't know if that is normal for all horses but I would be afraid to trailer with it for that reason. Plus, are you trailering for showing? Then it's a no-go for sure.
Just as an experiment, it would be interesting to haul him in a straight load for a short trip to see if that changed his behavior in any way.
I have tried him in a strait load of a friend when we went to a show together. He was somewhat calmer due to the other horse but still paws a lot. because he paws so high, (front leg was caught in a hay bag at head level) I worry about the chest bar. I will give this a try again if the I get the chance. On long trips he settles down, I think it is more boredom than balance.
I really like the gel for this type of thing... seems to take that edge off that you need, but doesn't make them so dopey they can't stand up. The thing I have found most interesting is they seem to learn and remember when using the gel. The best part was that this lesson stuck, and his anxiety has significantly decreased since, without any meds in his system.
Thank you, this is what I am hoping will happen. I am going to give him a test haul as soon as this snow goes away *ugggg*