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Trailering Question - spoiled horses or crap trailer?

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  • #21
    When pulling make sure you are not putting on the brake and then letting off a bit and then reapplying. Makes for a lot of movement in back.
    Make sure your smooth through the turns. Not to much brake or gas and holding steady and smooth on the wheel.
    Taking off to fast also moves them alot and also starting on the gas and letting off a little and reapplying.
    Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


    • Original Poster

      Originally posted by rabicon View Post
      When pulling make sure you are not putting on the brake and then letting off a bit and then reapplying. Makes for a lot of movement in back.
      Make sure your smooth through the turns. Not to much brake or gas and holding steady and smooth on the wheel.
      Taking off to fast also moves them alot and also starting on the gas and letting off a little and reapplying.

      Thanks for that advice.


      • #23
        Your goal should be to avoid applying gas or brake unless the trailer is following directly behind the truck. So, if you are going to make a 90 degree right turn, you should attain 5 mph on the straight line, coast all the way through the turn, and until the trailer is completely straight behind the truck before you accelerate. Lots of people accelerate when the truck has finished making the turn (even though the trailer hasn't) and its really rough on the horses.


        • #24
          Doesn't sound like you're going fast or far enough that this could be the issue but I try to remember what I read somewhere which is if you as the driver lean when going around a curve you're going too fast. No idea if its true but sure made me slow down on a wind-y, hilly interstate that I used to travel in Utah.


          • #25
            1. Always get your trailer serviced every year -- lots of things that can just deteriorate over time.
            2. Have someone drive behind you with the back windows open (so they can see the horse, if the configuration of your trailer allows it) -- they can tell you if the horses are scrambling in a way you can't see.
            3. Check tire pressure on tow vehicle and trailer every time you haul.
            4. When you are going around any kind of curve, gently slow down BEFORE the curve to an appropriate speed. Take the curve very gently. Do NOT put your foot on the gas until the trailer is straight behind you. Ideally you are going through the curve or turn at a constant speed, neither braking nor accelerating. This is different, of course, from driving a car!

            I am sure they are not bluffing! Good to take the time to sort this out before it becomes an issue for them, and for you!
            The big man -- my lost prince

            The little brother, now my main man


            • #26
              Definitely get the trailer checked out mechanically / structurally, and have them verify that the trailer floor is level when hitched.

              Get this book. It's very good.

              A girl who helped me learn to pull my trailer encouraged us to go to a big, empty parking lot and take turns "being the horse" in the trailer. She also recommended putting a half filled glass of water on the dashboard and practice driving around without sloshing it.
              Last edited by ldaziens; Apr. 2, 2013, 12:25 PM.
              Disclaimer: Just a beginner who knows nothing about nothing


              • #27
                This is another good resource -
                Disclaimer: Just a beginner who knows nothing about nothing


                • #28
                  Go inside your trailer and jump up and down as hard as you can. My trailer which is similar to yours, different brand, had extremely rattley bangy tie rings. It was incredible how much noise they made just with a little movement. I covered the rings so they wouldn't make any noise, and things were much quieter. My horses initially didn't even want to load into it because it was so loud just getting onto the trailer.


                  • #29
                    As you work through the check list of things people have suggested for you, you might also consider going for a ride in your own trailer. Find a friend and a big parking lot (school on a weekend, church on a weekday) and make like a horse. Have your friend drive around the lot, accelerating nicely and then like a jackrabbit, braking slowing and then hard, turning 'softly' and then drag racing through the corners. You in the trailer can then experience things from the horses' perspectives ... how noisy is it? how rough is the ride? how do you deal with abrupt stops and turns? In particular, pay attention to the "mixed motions" -- accelerating through a corner, braking through a sharp turn -- that will give you a better appreciation for how hard it can be for a horse to balance when the force vectors are coming from two directions at once.

                    "Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
                    - Desiderata, (c) Max Ehrman, 1926


                    • #30
                      To prevent bees/hornets, get a Pest Strip and hang it in the trailer. These are the yellow things that are inside of a white/cream colored plastic holder. About 5-6 inches long. Come in a foil pouch.
                      Sometimes, the fittings and dividers rattle a great deal. You can soften some of those by using electrical tape (comes in different colors), vet wrap, and/or the spongy pool toy tubes or pipe insulators. Cut to fit.
                      Hard to explain driving technique, but if you've ever had a dog as a passenger and the dog is standing up, you can better understand how a horse is trying to stay upright in the trailer.
                      Slow is not always better as it reduces air flow. But the driving tips given are excellent. I always suggest putting a glass or cup, 3/4 full of colored kool-aid, on the passenger side floor of the tow vehicle. Drive to keep that from tipping over. Do this without the horses in the trailer.


                      • #31
                        I agree with all the advice above. The only thing I will add is that some trailers are not as horse friendly as others.

                        My first trailer was small and rather dark. While my old (smaller) horse was fine in it, my new, larger horse turned into a problem loader. I could get him on but it took forever.

                        As soon as I traded it in for a larger, airy trailer (I have Hawk), all my loading problems completely disappeared.

                        My driving didn't change.

                        One more thing to consider.

                        Another thing is whether you are always loading the horses on the same side. I trailered a mare for a friend who start to slip and scramble in the trailer. I had my husband drive behind me and he said she was definitely losing her footing. She was riding on the right. After some experimentation we learned that she leaned left while trailering. My partition does not go to the ground -- it's just a bar. This horse MUST ride on the left so she can lean on something that doesn't move.

                        I will say that I have some friends that I will not trailer with because I hate the way they drive when pulling a trailer.

                        Good luck and good for you for trying to get to the bottom of the problem.
                        Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                        EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


                        • #32
                          I agree with - go for a ride in your own trailer -

                          we had a horse that was a good traveler and in a very short period of time absolutely refused (to the point of sitting down) to get into the trailer he had been riding in for years

                          it was older and I think it picked up a shimmy

                          we got a new trailer and the horse walked right in and never gave trouble again

                          and definitely check for wasps - they like to build nests in the walls - anywhere they can find a crack to get in - they will
                          We also had them build a nest in the beams under the floor of one trailer


                          • Original Poster

                            Thanks for the very good advice everyone. There's a lot of helpful driving tips I just didn't know about. Plus I've realize how hard it must be for them going down/up our drive - entrance is on a hill.

                            When practice loading last night both my horses did better when I removed the center partition. Unfortunately it has to be in to haul. I'm quite sure the trailer looks like the flaming sardine can of death after being in the bigger ones. I've started trailer shopping, but aghh! The money! Welcome to horses, right? I'm going to borrow a friend's larger slant load also to do a test load and that will tell me for sure if it's the trailer.

                            In the meantime I'm going to do a lot of practice driving (sans ponies) and look for the books that were suggested.


                            • #34
                              Originally posted by ldaziens View Post
                              Definitely get the trailer checked out mechanically / structurally, and have them verify that the trailer floor is level when hitched.

                              A girl who helped me learn to pull my trailer encouraged us to go to a big, empty paking lot and take turns "being the horse" in the trailer. She also recommended putting a half filled glass of water on the dashboard and practice driving around without sloshing it.
                              I have to disagree with "level when hitched" on how the trailer and hitch are set up. I want a bumper pull to be "level when LOADED" so the horses ride with no up or downhill. Adding horse weight, your accessories of feed, tack, can EASILY make that level-when-hitched outfit go downhill.

                              I got my first trailer hitch put on at an RV center, and was quite adamant that hitch be X inches from the ground. Hitch Installer guy said it was a bad idea for the horses, because the added weight would make the trailer front go downhill when driving. He said he wanted to put the hitch 2" ABOVE my measurement, so it would level out when loaded with horses. He woulld change it FREE if trailer rode uphill loaded. It turned out he WAS RIGHT! Trailer leveled when loaded. Hauled that outfit thousands of miles, big or small animals, rode level all the time.

                              I would x3 on the "ride in the trailer like the horse" and see how it feels. This is a fairly common idea locally, though we are meaner. We say the person riding in the trailer has to be blindfolded, with hands tied together in front, so they bounce off the walls like a horse with those surprise turns. The Driver of truck has a front seat passenger who is there to verify the truck NEVER went faster than 25mph to the irate trailer rider. Have to say after the ride, that the new-to-hauling person has a whole different attitude about how they drive! LOTS more consideration for the equines being hauled behind!!

                              Have the floorboards and supports under the floor been checked? Floorboards do get rotten, usually starting in the wall/floor corners first. We have replaced the floor in our oldest trailer 3 times, and it wasn't because we never cleaned it after use! Metal angles and supports rust, even digging the corners when cleaning, moist bedding gets trapped, causing rust and rot. Then these things need to be fixed and replaced. We had a safety meeting in Pony Club, I gave the talk on trailers, how to check wood soundness in floors with a screwdriver. Found that MY trailer and the other 4 NICE LOOKING trailers ALL had rot in the floors. The wreckety trailer, in terrible shape, had the ONLY sound floor of them all, not one rotten spot. So don't be fooled by a trailer looking good, bad floors happen and need fixing. All us PC folks DID get the floors fixed RIGHT AWAY.

                              You said your gelding "just fits" in this trailer, so it MAY be too small for him. He doesn't have any space to shift into, which is VERY tiring when traveling. The mare coming out shakey and sweating is NOT a "princess attitude" thing. You have other issues going on when trailering, could be your driving, could be the size of horses in the stalls, a trailer problem. Good hauling horses don't go bad for no reason, but it can be difficult to FIND the issue at times.


                              • #35
                                There is a consensus on some vry good points here.

                                Some horses are claustrophobic.... perhaps they like to be able to see where they are going, need a brighter trailer, etc. But for both to have been good travellers and then become difficult needs querying. Horses do not lie.

                                "Coffee-cup on the dashboard slow"
                                Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                                • #36
                                  I think it's the trailer-too small, too restrictive, something weird about the floor or something.

                                  I've seen horses go on some hideously terrible trailer rides, ruts and washerboards and huge bumps and tilting just trying to get to the trail head or pasture gate and I've never seen a horse come off the trailer scared. Tired and irritated but not scared. They are extremely athletic and if they have enough space back there they can handle a lot. Shaking just sounds like there is something else going on, they're being too confined or scared.

                                  I never blame a horse for not liking a 2 horse straight load; that's my least favorite trailer and I've seen a lot of horses that really don't like them. Bad drivers certainly make it tough but if you're even thinking about it then I doubt you're the problem unless it's awkward driving PLUS they're too squished to balance themselves, ect.

                                  Anyway-IMO it's not your driving.
                                  “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey


                                  • #37
                                    i would think you could tell if the trailer was hauling so badly that it affected your horses' comfort.
                                    i would closely examine your driving habits first.
                                    my mare hates my friend's slant load. she's exhausted when she gets off, reluctant to get on. but i think it's not so much the trailer as it is my friend's driving. she brakes late, doesn't try to avoid bumpy portions of pavement. i can't test this theory b/c i don't have a slant load (my mare hauls loose in my 2 horse trailer with no divider), but i know i'm uncomfortable while driving with her so i can only imagine how it feels back in the last spot in the trailer where my poor my mare has to stand. needless to say, i avoid hauling with her as much as possible.
                                    TQ(Trail Queen) \"Learn How to Ride or Move Over!!\" Clique


                                    • Original Poster

                                      I really think it's a combination of my driving and a too small trailer. I've only hauled my gelding three times. The first two times he got on without much fuss. Remy didn't start refusing to load until after the last haul, which was longer and had a lot of stop/starts. The first few times my mare was hauled my father drove, and she loaded quickly for a treat. She is very food motivated and now she fusses even for food.

                                      The trailer is 7ft and Remy is 16.2. I don't think he has enough space.

                                      I'm going to keep having practice loading sessions without hauling them so they realize loading = ok.

                                      I have a trailer in mind I'd like to purchase, the same as what my trainer has and he's walked on to that one just fine. But I'll need to do some research first.

                                      I'm going to take notes from these posts for my driving practice.


                                      • #39
                                        My old QH hauls quietly in the rearmost (longest) stall in a slant load.
                                        He will kick the thing to pieces in any other stall.

                                        I told the friend that bought him that this is how Jake rolls. He then did a number on her trailer. I tried to tell her. he is a long bodied 15.2 - but he's long and he's grumpy. I bet your horses are squished in there.

                                        If they haul fine in other trailers...well....

                                        and I doubt it's your driving unless you're pulling a Jeff Gordon on them. I don't 'baby' my horses hauling wise= we go. I do brake smoothly and accelerate smoothly but I don't creeeeeeeeeep around corners or worrrrrrrrrrry about hills. Yet a go-cup of coffee rode in the tack room 80+ miles over 3-4 sets of RR tracks and on and off interstates and up and down my bumpy-ass gravel drive. I think you have to be a sho nuff rotten driver to screw up a horse. I doubt you are.

                                        I do like shavings in the floor to reduce slipperiness.


                                        • #40
                                          Do Sundowner trailers have metal(aluminum) floors? I seem to recall that they do and that sensation might feel different to them, even under mats, than their old, wooden floored trailer did? Possibly?