I have a two horse straight load trailer with a ramp. My dear lovely gelding decided he either hauls in a slat load or he needs the additional space in a straight load. Thus, I have to haul him without the divider.
Here's the problem, without the divider you have no way to secure the straight butt bars. (You are left with a gap where you'd hook them to the divider, there's no way to hook them without.) As one can imagine, it isn't all that safe without a butt bar and, it is next to impossible to load/unload without a second person.
At this point the only thing I can think to do is have the trailer place custom make something. I guess I could use a chain, but I don't know how "safe" that will be. I need to have some small notion of safety in him not killing the ramp and not coming out when I load/unload alone. (I know he can cause issues even with something at his rear.)
He is normally well behaved in terms of not coming off the trailer like a total lunatic, but when he has a temper tantrum all bets are off. I'd like something between the ramp and him. You know, so I don't turn into a pancake.
I haul with a slant load and I do not have a butt bar. I also haul horses in the front with no slant behind them. My horses are used to having no butt bar and know they are not to get off until they are untied and I give them the lead to unload. I have noticed the horses that are used to a butt bar tend to come off before you are ready. What if you just practice loading and having him stand in the trailer until you ask him to get off.
It sounds like before you need to solve your butt bar problem, you need to solve your training problem. It is never appropriate for a horse to charge off the trailer or cause you to worry about him breaking down the ramp. That's a huge training and safety gap. The first thing I teach ALL my horses is how to self load, as I am generally traveling alone. If you don't know how, find help.
It is a partial divider. He just can't keep his balance as well standing straight. I don't know why, to my knowledge he's never has an accident that would cause him to be fearful. He just scrambles and gets upset. Slat load isn't an issue for him. My trailer is wider, but it didn't seem to make a difference. In retrospect I should have bought a slant load. It just wasn't in the budget.
As for training, yes, as always we work on this. I'm not saying he isn't safe, he loads well and unloads well and 98% of the time he does self load. However, there are times when he has meltdowns. It could be in the ring, while tacking, in his stall. He doesn't discriminate. His triggers are when he's excited or taken from his herd. It isn't all the time, and I'd even say it is more rare than common. I've had him most of his life and he was my FIL's horse before he was mine, this is his personality. While he is much better during these times than he was, they can still happen and I want to be sure there are safety measures in place. He is generally a good guy but for the times when he is naughty, I want some form of extra insurance.
I've thought about this. My current trailer came equipped with a spring-bar that fits into a hole on each side so that I can use the back as a box stall and still have something solid between the ramp and horse. It's pretty heavy and unwieldy to use, but does work. Most places that service horse vans should be able to find/make a spring bar and install the associated slots. I would think this would probably run you ~$4-500?
I thought about doing a DIY full-width butt bar on my old trailer. I never got around to it, but I did think a solid landscape timber would probably work best (=/- wrapped in padding). I had planned to use tie rings on each end of the timber and connect to the sides of the trailer with carabiners. IMO a PVC would break too easily under stress and if it broke it would create jagged edges. 2x4 I didn't think was strong enough, and 4x4 has sharp edges.
If your butt bars attach in the center, would something like a large u-shaped bolt work to hold them together??
The trailer my mom had for years and years had chains across the back, and they worked fine under normal circumstances but since they hooked on with double end snaps they would break if a horse hit them hard enough. Then again-- I would not trust the butt bars in my current trailer (or really almost any butt bars?) to hold a horse that was truly determined to back off.
Most straight load trailer manufacturers make a single full size butt bar to use when the center divider is removed. Call a dealer for your trailer to see if they can help you.
I have a single bar for my Hawk; it works very nicely when I want to use the trailer with one horse and want to tack up in there. It is long and you do have to be alert to make the horse wait while you swing it out of the way.
"Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
- Desiderata, (c) Max Ehrman, 1926
Usually when horses have trouble finding their balance, it is because of the driving.
My mare was the same. She would sit on the ramp with her back roached and her front legs wide open.
The few time she had been on a trailer, the driver wasn't carefull about it's stop/go as well as in the turns.
What I did were plenty of small slow trips (between 15-20 miles/hr) with me in the trailer with the mare. Lead chain on and I would make her step forward when needed and I was also on the phone with the driver, giving him direction. It helped a lot! And it tought the driver to take more his time when starting, how to stop properly and how to steer the turns.
Now that she's a good girl, we still start really slowly but she learned to balanced herself better when she needs to.
I so wish I could blame my driving! That I can correct easily! Sadly, this issue is with everyone. He actually even stand slanted in cross ties, while eating, and even on a slant in his stall. He's a strange bird. He does have some issues with his back left, but I wouldn't think it would cause him to not stand straight.
I do know I need more practice though! So there IS room for improvement. But I don't think it would make him able to haul straight.
Is there any reason why you're just not willing to sell your current trailer and buy a stock trailer? Or a slant load?
I had a gelding that would only haul loose in a stock trailer. Had I been in a place where I owned my own trailer, it would have been a no-brainer. Unless you have horses that ONLY haul straight, this seems like it would be a pretty easy thing to solve with a change in equipment?
I have wanted a custom butt bar for my straight load, too.
Yes, to getting them trained. But as you say, you are working on that missing 2% of the time where the horse screws up.
Yes to driving carefully, but I have known horses who weren't mishandled by a driver and still had issues.
I'd choose a butt bar before a chain because it feels solid to the horse. I don't want a horse to get the impression that, "in battle conditions" he might be able to move the thing behind him. Bad if the chain breaks and probably really bad if it doesn't while the horse is losing his mind.
I think you could get a trailer place to cut your a length of pipe and create attachments that work with your trailer. Or put rings on either side of the inside of your trailer and weld some hooks/clips/whatnot to the ends of the pipe.
Also, no to hauling a horse with just the ramp behind him. I have a stout ramp, but the double doors that close above it...not so much, I don't want a horse resting his big butt on the ramp, as it would suck if he bent it. And I really don't want one to decide that he's going to try and flip out over the top of the ramp. It's unlikely, but imagine the carnage!
What has stopped me from getting the custom single butt bar has been thinking about how I'd move it by myself.... if the horse were already wiggy.
The horse would already be untied up front, but then I have to go back there and move the whole thing, getting out of the line of the horse's sight. If he decided to back out then, I'd have my body, a long pipe and a horse's a$$ all in close proximity. Also, if you detach one end of the pipe, it's not entirely out of the way of the ramp.... which needs to get wider with the wiggy horse. Again, pipe and horse could get tangled.
I hope I haven't rained on your parade too much. Let us know what you rig up!
I think most trailer manufacturers can make a full length butt bar. When I ordered my trailer it was an option (I think it was about $100) but ended up going with the a padded full length chain instead. The solid butt bar is quite long and I could imagine myself dropping it on my foot while unhooking it (yes, I am quite graceful!). The butt chain was much easier to handle (and no chance of hurting myself with it !)
Both the solid and chain butt bars came with carabiner clips that hook on the clips on the trailer walls. I would think that a trailer repair place could look at the type of connectors that you have and order a full length butt bar from one of the trailer manufacturers that would fit.
I don't know if this would work with your horse and trailer, but here's what I do with my horse who's still learning trailer manners:
I haul him with a flat halter clipped with the trailer tie, but put his rope halter on over it (not attached to anything).
When I'm ready to unload, I tie my long lead rope (15') to the rope halter and run the lead rope out of the trailer and hold the free end in my hand.
Then I unclip the flat halter from the trailer tie. Walk back and undo the butt bar (of course you would skip this step since you don't have one).
That way I can exert pressure on his head to guide him forward again if he tries to back up too early and sit on the butt bar. When he comes out, I let the free end of the rope slide out with him and pick up the part that's attached to the horse. If he tries to turn away from me so that I can't reach the lead rope, I push his flank away from me so his head turns back my way.
I have a stock trailer, so this is pretty easy for me to do, but I wonder if it might work to run the rope out the window of an enclosed trailer? So long as it couldn't get caught on anything - you need one of those slick, slithery NH-type training leads. And of course a horse who will give to pressure! We spent a long time training that first.