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Horse suddenly having trouble in trailer

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  • Horse suddenly having trouble in trailer

    Looking for someone who has experienced something similar.

    OTTB gelding in his mid teens, used to trailer like a pro. He has suddenly started having problems on left hand turns where he seems to lose his balance/footing and lean onto either the wall or the divider depending on what side he's on. From the car behind the trailer you can see his hind end dip below the butt bar.

    Trailer is a GN 2H straight load. We have tried driving 5 mph, we have tried trailering him by himself and opening the divider to give him more room, not sure what else to try! At this point we have stopped trailering him for fear he will hurt himself or others but this horse loves the trails and it's sad to have to leave him home!

    The horse has been looked at by our vet, nothing wrong with him except some gum disease.
    "I don't even like I mean they don't even interest me. I'd rather have a goddam horse. A horse is at least human, for God's sake." -Holden Morrissey Caulfield

  • #2
    If you've worked up the horse with no adverse findings then work up the trailer.

    Keep the divider in place so that the horse has something to "work" against to maintain his balance. Then check your trailer for anything that might cause an unbalance or "rough ride" for the horse. This would include, but not be limited to, suspension, tire inflation, dragging brake, etc. Look for any "looseness" in trailer compartment components that might be moving (and that ought not to be) and that could be giving the horse a sense of "threat" of something something coming at them. Or moving around them.

    Then work up the driver. Take a friend along to give you a "driving test" to see if you've done something to induce the problem by the way you drive. We can, sometimes, be our own worst enemies by developing a bad habit we don't see, or maybe a habit we don't see as "bad." A neutral pair of eyes can sometimes fix this.

    If everything is "jake" with the horse and with the trailer and the driver then you've likely got the dreaded Bad Habit that the horse picked up from something that happened in the past and you can't identify. Perhaps "this, too, shall pass" and the horse will end their disturbing (to you) behavior on their own. Maybe they won't. But if the annoying behavior is not causing injury to the horse or damage to the trailer maybe you'll just have to live with it. That's very unsatisfying but sometimes The Way It Is.

    Good luck in your search.

    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo


    • #3
      Have you tried letting him face backwards in the trailer? You might need to remove the divider to try that.

      You may want to ride in the trailer while someone drives and see if everything is working properly.

      My horses ride much better in a slant, even though they had all originally been trained in a straight load. The first horse i load in the slant, i turn around so she can face backwards. With just one horse, i open the divider and give them a box stall.


      • #4
        Any videos of what he is doing? Perhaps an inner ear problem affecting balance?


        • #5
          I have experienced something similar! My guy was an 18-year-old WB and had trailered like a pro his entire life. He started scrambling only on turns to the right. I took videos from inside the trailer that showed he was trying not to load his right hind. Vet workup didn't show much of anything and ruled out EPM (which he'd been successfully treated for as a young man). I ended up trying him on the right side of the trailer instead of the left, and that completely resolved it. That has worked for 4 years so far (though he rarely travels anymore since he's retired). It sounds like you may have tried him on both sides already though?

          My thread from then if you want to read the suggestions I got:
          Building and Managing the Small Horse Farm:


          • Original Poster

            This video is from last week, we were pulling out of the driveway at the barn and had only gone about 50 ft.

            We'd love to try him in a slant load but don't seem to have any friends that live close enough to let us borrow one to try. Backwards sounds kinda scary but interesting, have you trailered safely long distances? @4horses

            Great ideas on the trailer, yet we've tried him in others (newer straight load bumper pulls for a slight difference) with no change in behavior. @Guilherme

            Yes unfortunately we've tried both sides but there are plenty of ideas in your thread thanks! @Libby2563
            "I don't even like I mean they don't even interest me. I'd rather have a goddam horse. A horse is at least human, for God's sake." -Holden Morrissey Caulfield


            • #7
              Hard for me to see what's happening in the video, the back doors are open and hard to sort out horse restlessness in a halted trailer from his leaning.

              Maybe get s good equine body worker out to see him? They can identify and fix tense muscles that don't really show up in a vet check.

              I don't suppose you have a wasp nest building up in the left side?

              My pony when I was a kid suddenly stopped standing for the farrier one day and ever after had to be propped against the truck where she would happily lean. No sign of lameness then or for years and years until extreme old age. But some thing was off.

              We didn't have equine massage back then.