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Loading & Trailer Safety...

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  • Loading & Trailer Safety...

    ...for those of us with 2 legs.

    Got squished while loading a mare tonight...probably a cracked rib. Mare was just being rude about space. I was not in the trailer with the mare - I was in a "safe zone" while loading the horse. Is there really any safe space??

    Anyway, I'm wondering how most folks handle the loading issue. There's the camp that says never get into the trailer with the horse/pony. (Frankly IDK how that would work with the majority of trailers.) Then there's the let's walk thru, tie and then butt bar/swing gate. You've the head to heads and the vans (think Imperator type)...you gotta go in.

    So I'm trying to be safe tonight. We have XW, XT two horse, walk through (not the cowboy trailer type w/the manger situation in front). I send the mare in, she goes. Ponies in front pasture come tearing across the field to the nearest fence line, mare comes backing out and as soon as she barely clears the back of the trailer, throws her head up and around and mows me over. It happened so fast and the mare wasn't being malicious. Just rude and wondering what the pony clowns were doing.

    So weigh in...how do YOU do this?

  • #2
    My horses self load. I stand off to the side of the ramp right where it meets the trailer. If my horse flew back out due to fear I should, theoretically, be able to just take a step forward and have the trailer between me and the horse. Of course, I wouldn't do that as I'd be making a grab for the lead as the horse came barreling out and would probably run the risk of getting squished like you did. My horses typically unload very, very slowly. The leads are over their backs so I just grab it when they are halfway out.

    If the horse needs a little help I'll go up the empty side of the trailer. Really need an extra hand to do up the butt chain though. On the rare occasions that I have to go in the same stall with the horse I proceed with caution, escape door open, and only do it when another person is around to get the butt chain and help me out the door (my knees are so bad I have a hard time getting my leg high enough to get out the escape door).

    My dearly departed Whinnie loathed trailers and I almost always had to load her on my own. I would run a lunge line through the feed door and out the back of the trailer, then reel her in while standing off to the side. That way I could hold on to her while I did up the butt chain. She backed out in turbo mode so I just stayed out of her way and grabbed the rope as she shot past me. She never went anywhere once she was out of the trailer.

    My trailer is an extra wide, extra tall, two horse straight load with a ramp.
    Crayola Posse - Pine Green
    Whinnie Pine (June 4, 1977 - April 29, 2008)
    Autumn Caper (April 27, 1989 - May 24, 2015)
    Murphy (April 28, 1994 - May 5, 2017)


    • #3
      Technically your manner of loading sounds very safe to me. I also think that the walk through method is fine as well. No matter how you load, there is always a delicate moment right after the animal walks in the trailer but right before you have a chance to physically secure them with the butt bar or divider. When there are distractions about, it is helpful to either use an assistant to help steady the horse's head once they are in while you secure the back, or simply to wait and let the situation settle down before loading, or work with the horse a minute to regain its attention.


      • Original Poster

        Thanks for the replies. I was by myself and this mare is usually very easy...she was being a PITA tonight with the rudeness. She does self load and with the lead line thrown over her neck. Usually this is an easy process with her.

        Our trailer has a ramp, straight load and isn't dark or scary inside. Mare just came backwards - not even fast - and wheeled around hard to the left off the ramp and right into me, shoving me hard back into the outer trailer wall if that makes sense. I think hearing the ponies galloping but not being able to see them is what set her off. That or she's more rude than I usually give her credit for. :-/

        I'm trying to re-evaluate and see if I could've done anything differently to make this more safe for me. I can't come up with anything other than have an extra set of hands - but even then 1000+ lbs of rudeness, might not have helped.

        Again, thanks for the comments.


        • #5
          really probably nothing more you could do - other than have a different trailer - like a stock trailer or side on/off load - which unless you are in the market for a new trailer isn't practical. Some folks who often trailer alone prefer a stock type trailer because there is no butt bar/ramp situation. when it comes to loading it doesn't matter what kind of trailer you have if its 1,000 lbs vs 130 lbs sometimes that 1,000 lbs is going to win. I learned from the school of hard knocks that sometimes a helmet isn't only required when mounted LOL.


          • #6
            It was an accident. And one that could've been a lot worse if you HAD been doing things differently.

            Assuming I'm by myself: In a straight load with a horse who will self load, I would send horse in, stand to the side (middle) and put up butt bar, then close door, then tie if I'm going to tie. If I was doing the walk through, I would walk in, hop out and CLOSE escape door, then put up butt bar standing off to the side and close door. One thing I will NOT do in a straight or slant is tie the horse in before they are physically secured with the door closed. I've seen too many wrecks that way.

            Hope you're feeling better soon!
            A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

            Might be a reason, never an excuse...


            • Original Poster

              Thanks, BuddyRoo. I tend to operate from a perspective of Murphy's Law and choose my actions accordingly to prevent "accidents." sometimes it's difficult for me to remember that despite the best planning and course of action, accidents can happen. 1000 lbs of unpredictable has a way of mucking up the best laid plans of mice & men!!

              The cracked rib really sucks though...I'm getting not a lot done other than killing time surfing the net! ha!


              • #8
                Finzean, I've cracked ribs a time or two and know how much that can hurt. Are you wrapped tightly? I found that really helped me and made it such that I could actually do stuff (like, oh, BREATHE) without a lot of pain.

                I just used and ace bandage and wrapped myself up tightly. And then of course, plenty of NSAIDs.

                As far as Murphy's Law, I totally hear you. Sometimes it seems like the more you know and the more careful you are, the more accidents happen while some wing nut doing everything wrong gets to sail along unharmed. But at any rate...it really does sound like "just an accident" and not much you could've done about it other than move faster than the horse. Good luck with THAT!
                A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Finzean View Post
                  Thanks for the replies. I was by myself and this mare is usually very easy...she was being a PITA tonight with the rudeness.
                  If she is being a PITA with rudeness on the way TO the trailer, have a brief CTJ moment with her before you load. When your ground work is good again and you are getting "yes ma'am!"s from her, then proceed.
                  The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                  Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                  The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY


                  • Original Poster

                    Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post
                    If she is being a PITA with rudeness on the way TO the trailer, have a brief CTJ moment with her before you load. When your ground work is good again and you are getting "yes ma'am!"s from her, then proceed.
                    Trying not to LOL but the fact I so easily read through CTJ moment with GREAT CLARITY says more about this little mare than anything!!! laughing quietly to myself as I take a few more NSAIDS


                    • #11
                      It sounds like just a freak accident. I'm not sure there is anything you could have done to prevent it.

                      Hope you feel better soon.
                      Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                      Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                      -Rudyard Kipling


                      • #12
                        I have a question for everybody, my mare use to self load before the people that I leased her to used a winch to get her into a stock trailer that for whatever reason she refused to go in. Now she's a nightmare. I have been practicing with her and right now the only way to load her is to walk her in with me on the other side of the partition. However when I go to get out of the trailer she backs out with me. I'm afraid to put the butt bar up with the door still open because of all the horror stories I have heard of horses trying on go under the butt bar. 95% o the time I have no help with loading. Anybody have any tips for loading alone in a situation like this?
                        Maggie Bright, lovingly known as Skye and deeply missed (1994 - 2013)
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