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Horse kicking in trailer -- Suggestions?

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  • Horse kicking in trailer -- Suggestions?

    This summer my horse started kicking after he is loaded on the trailer. He is fine once you get going, but he immediately starts when the door closes. It does not matter if there is another horse in the trailer or not. I always load and go, but he still gets a couple good kicks in -- just with his right hind.

    If he is in a larger trailer, if I try to walk away he does the same thing.

    Any suggestions to help correct this behavior?

    Any experiences with kicking chains? I am weary of using them since I would have to load with the chains on and it is a step up trailer.

    There is always a treat for him on the trailer and walks on with no hesitation. He is almost a self-loader.

    Thanks for the suggestions

  • #2
    Well, I know some horses my grandma used to have in training would wear kicking chains in the trailer. They're a last ditch effort usually, but can be effective. They aren't always that much of a deterrent though once they have leg wraps on.

    You just have to put them on once they're in the trailer. You have to be quick about it, and load him first or in an order that allows you to have a free slot on one side of him (you can put on both from the same side). They don't need to be super long either. Putting someone at his head can help too if he's fidgety. It's also best if they've worn them at home before, so they get the idea of how they work. We had one horse that was such a terrible pawer that he had to ride in pawing chains and get a bit of ace or he'd get off the trailer lame. They never ever ever caused any issues, but I'm sure somebody has a horror story...

    Anyway, I'm sure some people will freak out at the thought of kicking chains or pawing chains on the trailer because they add an extra something that could go wrong in the event of a freak accident. But if you have a horse that will make himself lame from pawing or kicking, it can be an acceptable option if nothing else you try seems to help. Just saying that because we had one that would paw himself dead lame on the trailer and another that would kick high enough to cause herself scary trailer injuries. Both were much better/safer with kicking/pawing chains...


    • Original Poster

      I guess I look at trailering safely as my biggest concern. I do not think that being some what patient should be a lot to ask. He ships well -- I just don't get this part and where it came from.

      I really want him to learn some patience on the loading part. Again, I am not an idiot and I understand correct loading and unloading.

      I am hoping this is a behavior that might disappear with more frequent trailering, but if it gets worse I guess I will have to resort to the kicking chains.

      Any other advice from anyone else would be helpful.


      • #4
        We don't use kick/paw chains in the trailer, those are reserved for stall use only as they generally don't pack enough punch in the trailer to really get a reprimand from the chains. However, we have several that don't go near the trailer without their hobbles. We have 1 horrific pawer that lames himself, but stands like a saint hobbled, and we have 3 kickers that will literally kick until they bleed, then get pissed off and keep going. They get hobbled behind in a hurry because its too easy for them to kick somebody else too. Obviously hobbles are not what you want to have on in a trailering emergency, but they have a higher likelihood of hurting themselves every trip without, then planning on the 1 accident that might happen at some point.


        • #5
          Can you do something to distract him once he's on the trailer?

          An open window, a toy, hiding bits of apple in his hay?
          "For some people it's not enough to just be a horse's bum, you have to be sea biscuit's bum" -anon.
          Nes' Farm Blog ~ DesigNes.ca
          Need You Now Equine


          • Original Poster

            Nes - I actually give him grain in the trailer and he doesn't kick right away. As soon as I shut the big back trailer door he will kick - even if the front window is open.

            Also, when shipped with other horses in a head to head trailer he will pop out at the back wall still. Really doesn't matter if other horses are in the trailer or not.

            He usually quits eating the grain to do his kicking....maybe finding something even better or his favorite treat in the hay. I will try that this weekend...

            I really hate to hobble him since I want him to learn on his own to behave. I kind of think it is more of an attention thing -- like attention from bad behavior is better than no attention at all (if that makes sense).

            Any more suggestions?


            • #7
              Maybe try a few sessions where you don't go anywhere.

              Use the kicking chains, close the doors and leave him there for a while. Later after he's been quiiet for a long time, unload and put a way. If you could do this a few times in a row , not nec on the same day, he might make the association that kicking is a bad idea and not kicking reaps rewards

              I think it would be important to do this a least 3 times (the more the better) with no travel involved and no trips in between the sessions. Important also to wait it out until he has stopped kicking for a long time before unloading. Fill his haynet and leave him there to figure it out.


              • #8
                i can really empathize with your situation. my ottb bobbie was a horrible kicker in the trailer. he kicked his right hind shoe off one time and the next time he kicked that same side shoe almost half way off. it was terrible to listen to and as well he had an old suspensory and pelvis issue from his racing days. i was terribly worried he would reinjure himself. he only kicked once the trailer got going but i was never certain when it would start. sometimes after 5 minutes, sometimes an hour later......it was nervewracking and once they get kicking you do not want to get in the trailer with them. you do not want to get hurt. so after 2 horrifying trailer trips and my farrier having to do hoof repair damage, i really went looking for some ideas.

                hobbles and kick chains were recommended by some people and i'm glad i didn't do that. i just never felt comfortable with that idea. fortunately, at this point in my horses career with me as a dressage competition mount i was taking my lessons with an event rider who has a lot of knowledge with ottbs. he had several terrible trailer kickers who had really worried him. what he came up with and his advice to me was to get two bales of straw. jimmy them up in a safe way so they are one on top of the other safely tied and sturdily mounted. once the horse is loaded and safely contained, put the straw bales behind the horse and tie the bales of straw to the trailer in some way that they do not move. he strongly stated that i did not want to be in a position where i'm hauling the trailer, the bales get loose and stuck between the horse. i was told that could be a terrible situation to deal with.

                i have a two horse trailer and my ottb pretty much was a tight squeeze in there. he's a big guy. so once he was loaded in and safely contained i just slipped the bales right behind him and the doors. they fit like a glove and he would rest on them. he did still kick but he could do no damage to himself or the trailer. for the rest of his career i hauled him like that. it worked great, was a cheap and safe solution. and it gave me tremendous peace of mind. i never had any trouble with this way of hauling and i think those 2 bales of straw saw us through 3 seasons of hauling. not too bad for $3 a bale : ) my farrier was a lot happier too!!

                good luck!


                • #9
                  We fixed a stall kicker with chains but I don't know if I'd try that in a trailer. That sounds scary.

                  If it were my horse, I'd park the trailer in the shade on a day when its cool and breezy. Load him up, shut the door and just leave him. At some point he's learned that he gets in, he kicks, the trailer goes. He probably isn't kicking when the trailer is moving because he feels too unbalanced to make that kind of sudden movement. He needs both feet on the ground to stable himself.

                  In short, I'd start teaching him patience. Tie him to a tree with a hay bag and let him stand for an hour. Tie him in his stall. Tie him in the trailer. He has to learn patience.


                  • #10
                    How hard is he kicking? If you are willing to risk the trailer and horse getting banged up, I'd load his ass in a parked trailer and leave him in there until he stood quietly. If the kicking stops for say, 3 minutes, unload him. Next day, stretch it to 5 minutes, then 10, etc. until you can leave him loaded for an hour or so and he stands quietly.

                    If you fear for his safety with the above method, don't feed him anywhere except in the trailer. You need to do it for about a week or so. This method requires a great deal of time and a great deal of patience. The plan is to have him associate the trailer with good things.

                    Your horse is telling you he doesn't like being in the trailer. Once you get moving, he has no choice but to stand up, but until that point, he's just voicing his displeasure.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by mjrtango93 View Post
                      We don't use kick/paw chains in the trailer, those are reserved for stall use only as they generally don't pack enough punch in the trailer to really get a reprimand from the chains. However, we have several that don't go near the trailer without their hobbles. We have 1 horrific pawer that lames himself, but stands like a saint hobbled, and we have 3 kickers that will literally kick until they bleed, then get pissed off and keep going. They get hobbled behind in a hurry because its too easy for them to kick somebody else too. Obviously hobbles are not what you want to have on in a trailering emergency, but they have a higher likelihood of hurting themselves every trip without, then planning on the 1 accident that might happen at some point.
                      We also had a couple that trailered quite well with hobbles = ) Some of them are just not great haulers and require some additional gadgetry to keep them safe. Obviously in the event of an accident, hobbles or kicking chains could cause issues, but except in freak situations, they will keep your horse in better shape.

                      Also, egontoast and go fish make a good suggestion: load him and don't go anywhere. Perhaps feed him in there if you have the time and trailer access. Then you can also try him in kicking chains/hobbles or whatever. He may learn that kicking is pointless, and you'll be able to see how he behaves in kicking chains or hobbles.


                      • #12
                        Breeding Hobbles

                        I had a mare who kicked herself bloody. The solution had worked for her were breeding hobbles. They attach to the two back ankles with cords they thread to a collar around their neck. They can be put on outside the trailer. I loaded then run around to the front of the trailer and pulled the cords tight. The horse can still spread their legs for balance. It just doesn't allow them to kick backwards. At the other end, I would loosen the cords and let her back out. It worked great.


                        • #13
                          Is he an impatient type of horse - c'mon let's get going? Will he stand and tie, will he just chill? He rides well, you say, so changing the side he stands on is not going to do much good. Some good suggestions here.
                          Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                          • #14
                            Another vote for hobbles...be careful putting them on and don't panic when he tries to move (because he probably will!)...they figure it out. Let him get used to them in a stall or somewhere safe. I have a mare and a gelding that require them or they are a danger to themselves, others and destroy my trailer!!!!


                            • #15
                              An idea....

                              I would definitly not use hobbles. That sounds very dangerous and what if he panics?

                              I agree that the kicking chains would be a thought, though maybe not as workable in a trailer.

                              I'd try if at all possible (and this has not been tried by me and is only a suggestion) of putting a mattress behind him somehow. There are ones made for large dogs that are shorter than a real twin mattress, but still 6" or so thick. My thought in this is it would take up the room behind his rearend and not give your horse room to kick...