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Horse started to fall in trailer

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  • Horse started to fall in trailer

    I gave a ride home from a hunt to a friend's horse and her horse started to go down in my trailer.

    My husband was driving behind me (local road, 15 mph) with the upper doors open and he saw her almost completely disappear. It looked like she kept losing her balance and was leaning heavily on the center partition or the wall.

    She seemed so unsteady that I stopped at a local barn and asked them if I could leave her there until I could drop my own horse and come back. Bless them they were great about it. I couldn't imagine what would happen if she fell and the two got tangled up.

    So I have no idea what was going on with this mare. It was a fairly hard hunt and warm . . . I wonder if she was just exhausted? Just uncoordinated? They were on the trailer for about 45 minutes before she left and had been offered a drink. She was obviously having trouble with her balance because she ripped up the rubber siding on my trailer from kicking/scrambling.

    If I'd been driving more than 15 mph when it happened I might think it was the driving but my own horse has no problems at all.

    Whew. Feel like I dodged a bullet on that one.

    The woman riding the horse (not her own) thought that maybe the mare was nervous riding with my gelding but they are turned out together and had stood quietly on the trailer during the tea.

    THe horse had come over by herself. Maybe she's not used to riding tandem?
    Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
    EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

  • #2
    Glad everything turned out okay! I hope the mare is okay; that does not sound like normal behaviour at all!How did she get home after that?

    Comment


    • #3
      What type of trailer, straight or slant? Does the partition go down to the bottom, has she trailered on this particular trailer before with no issues? Need a little more info, but my one thought is that she may have been extra tired and body sore, maybe needed to spread her legs to support herself and could not, freaked out and tried to lay down. I had a gelding who could not be trailered in a two horse with full partition and that is what he would do tired or not.
      "We, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit." JFK

      Comment


      • #4
        What is the mare's fitness level? Was she especially sweaty when you unloaded her? I would be inclined to think that maybe she was pushed a little too hard and was very exhausted. Did your husband see her struggling like she was upset or fighting, or did she just start to collapse?

        I have seen racehorses 'pass out' after races with no lasting negative effects. It usually starts with the horse staggering and struggling before they basically faint. We would throw buckets of water on their heads (I was a teenager, and I wasn't in charge, so don't flame me for this), and they would pop back up and be okay. I suppose it was caused by exertion, but I don't know.

        Comment


        • #5
          I knew a mare that couldn't have her hind end confined or she'd fall. I was typically the one who trailered her to shows because she couldn't ride in anything but a box stall or the very back of a slant and I usually had room.

          Not sure what caused it, she never freaked out, just simply couldn't keep her balance.
          A lovely horse is always an experience.... It is an emotional experience of the kind that is spoiled by words. ~Beryl Markham

          Comment


          • #6
            I had an Appy once who would do the same thing in a straight load. Scary when you're following behind and suddenly you don't see your horse.

            He had to ride alone with the partition moved to the side, in which he would always position himself sideways... I guess for him, it was more a balance issue.

            What kind of trailer was she in?
            MnToBe Twinkle Star: "Twinkie"
            http://i236.photobucket.com/albums/f...wo/009_17A.jpg

            Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by lesgarcons View Post
              What is the mare's fitness level? Was she especially sweaty when you unloaded her? I would be inclined to think that maybe she was pushed a little too hard and was very exhausted. Did your husband see her struggling like she was upset or fighting, or did she just start to collapse?
              My husband is not a horse person. He thought she either was too tired to stand up or had a real balance issue. She was pushed harder than I would have ridden her, probably 'cause she's so game. My TB was tired after the hunt (lots of fences and galloping) and he's like the Energizer Bunny. She not that fit and the day was warm. Personally, I would have dropped her back to the second field after the check, but I am conservative about that.

              What type of trailer, straight or slant? Does the partition go down to the bottom, has she trailered on this particular trailer before with no issues? Need a little more info, but my one thought is that she may have been extra tired and body sore, maybe needed to spread her legs to support herself and could not, freaked out and tried to lay down.
              It's a Hawk 2-horse. The partition does not go all the way down to the bottom.

              I've hauled her one before and she moved around more than I would like, but was okay. She rode with my gelding that time, too. It's a pretty spacious trailer. She's about 15 hands and wide, but the other horse that generally travels with us is 16.2. My gelding is about 16.2. I used to take him and my Trakehner (who was 16.2 and wide) all the time and they had plenty of room.

              Most of this time this mare is in the trailer alone. Maybe she just needs more room to spread out and keep her balance. Perhaps when she's tired (and she had to be), it was just too much for her.

              However, I think I'll pass on trailering her again.
              Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
              EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

              Comment


              • #8
                I understand, listening to Mirror Mirror falling down in the trailer was definitely not a high point in my life. He would just .....fall. Someone "forgot" to tell me he would do this, and he did as soon as I put him in the trailer. Trying to get him some room to get up I moved the partition over and he stood up and then, "okay fine, where we going."
                "We, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit." JFK

                Comment


                • #9
                  You might ask her owners more about her usual trailering routine.

                  My own TB mare went completely down twice in a 2-horse straightload and I could not figure out why. The third time it happened I realized that she only fell down when she was loaded on the right side, and I'd always always hauled her on the left. I went back to only hauling her on the left, and she never fell again. Very strange story and sounds silly, I know. I owned this mare for 18 years until her death and evented and hauled her thousands of miles. She was a seasoned hauler. The 3 times in her life that she went down she was on the right.

                  So maybe there was something about this haul for this mare that didn't work for her. The exhaustion part is concerning --- what kind of seasoned hunter hunts an unfit horse in first field?!?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    That happened to me once hauling a horse I didn't know well. Some horses if the partition doesn't go all the way to the floor "scramble" to keep their balance.

                    If the partition does go all the way to the floor, they can't move their feet enough to "scramble"

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      copied and pasted:http://www.tthorse.com/ae_trailer_kicking.asp
                      [FONT=Arial][SIZE=2] Some horses will "scramble" in a trailer, especially when turning a corner and this should not be mistaken for kicking. To the driver they may sound the same. Scrambling is caused by an inner ear problem in the horse that interferes with his equilibrium or ability to properly balance himself. Usually these horses will not show any signs of a problem except when they are in an enclosed trailer. This is because when they are out in the open their eyes can see what is truly up and down and override the skewed signal coming from the inner ear. When a horse is enclosed in a trailer where he can't see out well enough to determine where the ground is, he must rely on his inner ear. Usually the ear will work fine until a corner is turned and then things go haywire and the horse will thrash violently as he tries to stand on the side of the trailer, thinking it is the floor. As their feet slip off the side wall back to the floor they will quickly and violently try to get their feet back on the wall. To them that "is" the floor and they feel like they are falling. Many of these horses only scramble when turned one direction and are fine if turned the other way. This problem unfortunately is not curable. These horses can still be hauled safely if they are hauled in open style trailers or trailers with large windows for good visibility.[/SIZE][/FONT]
                      [FONT=Arial][SIZE=2]This is not an uncommon problem so be sure to consult you veterinarian to rule out this or any other medical causes.[/SIZE][/FONT]

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Good supportive padded partitioning, good rubber non-slip flooring and careful driving is what's required as essentials.

                        You might want to consider travelling herringbone or slanted if the aforementioned is all great. There's quite a bit of research says that this can be better for horses that struggle to maintain balance.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          If the horse was unfit and pushed too hard, then displayed lack of coordination and balance, I would say it may not be a trailering problem.

                          The horse may have been suffering from heat stress or started to collapse from electrolyte depletion or exhaustion. The horse may have panicked to be sure, but the cause of the panic and scrambling was due to a heat/exercise induced injury.

                          Here is some information on the causes and symptoms of impending metabolic collapse in horses:

                          http://www.flairstrips.com/Files/Fil...in_Fatigue.pdf

                          There is a lot more info on the net about this condition; especially in race and endurance horses.

                          A horse collapsing in a trailer after hunting is more likely to be cause by a heat injury than by not liking the trailer.

                          Not saying that it couldn't be the trailer, only that it sounds like the horse was sick, not stupid.

                          When a horse has been ridden hard and is suffering electrolyte depletion or a heat injury, the horse may start suffering from Thumps. Or become ataxic (loss of coordination/balance). The horse may stop or show a decrease in sweating, or tie up.

                          The rider hunted an unfit horse in warm/humid weather and then stuck the horse in a small confined hot space for the long trailer ride home. The horse displayed the symptoms of a pretty bad case of electrolyte depletion, and probably should have been seen by the vet immediately upon arrival at the stable. Horses do die from that type of injury.

                          You did an admirable job getting the horse home; dropping it off may have given it a chance to relax and calm down a little, even drink some water and cool off.

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

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            This horse was having difficulty standing right from the get go. I could hear/feel her moving around as I eased ahead from a stop.

                            The trailer has good mats and padding. I consider myself to be a safe driver and in this particular instance it was on back roads, driving very slowly and my husband was behind me the whole time watching. Once she started to have a serious problem we kept an open line on our cell phones.

                            Interesting about the inner ear issue. I wonder if that might have contributed. The only other time I've trailered this horse she did scramble a bit, but nothing like this (she was also on the right). Her owner was with me that time and she did not tell me that her horse had difficulty trailering. Since she is usually the third horse on outings, she generally is hauled by herself and another horse rides with mine. I've never had any problem pulling the two of them together.

                            However, often it's the simple answer. The horse just isn't that fit, she's 18 and there was a lot of galloping and jumping. The hunt was about 90 minutes with a fairly long check in the middle, but that's a lot of a horse that's not been conditioned. My OTTB started to feel tired about mid-way through the second cast and I stopped jumping him at that point. He's too nice a horse to overface and he's only just started jumping in the field.

                            The mare was being ridden by a friend of mine who is part leasing the horse. I have loaned her my own second horse in the past so we could ride together and I always thought she was sensitive to the horse and had a lot of common sense. I never saw her ask him for more than he could do. However, had I been riding the mare I would have dropped back to the second field after the check because I thought she'd done enough. I'm not looking forward to the discussion with the owner but I will have to tell her about the horse's experience in my trailer in case there is another medical problem and let her know that I thought the horse was ridden too hard.

                            I checked on the horse last night and she seemed fine and not at all distressed. The rider told me that she'd checked too and that her urine was normal and that she was drinking and grazing.

                            I'll be over today to check on the horses again.
                            Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                            EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              You mentioned that she is usually trailered alone. This reminds me of a horse we once leased. He was small, so we were going to put him on the right-hand side of the trailer, but thankfully the owner remembered that he had always trailered on the left side and liked to lean to the left. He had to have a solid wall on the left or he panicked. OK, no problem, we just always put him on the left.

                              I wonder if she is used to trailering on the left and somehow leans in that direction. Was she put on the right in your trailer? Just a thought...
                              \"I refuse to engage in a battle of wits with someone who is unarmed.\"--Pogo

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                I talked to someone who drove behind this horse the only other time I trailered her this year, when she was alone.

                                She told me the mare was leaning heavily on the side of the trailer the whole ride (leaning left). She didn't move around a lot that time but she was alone.

                                It makes me wonder if she was trying to lean on the divider on Saturday and not getting enough support, so losing her footing.

                                She was on the right in my trailer.

                                Originally posted by Mary in Area 1 View Post
                                You mentioned that she is usually trailered alone. This reminds me of a horse we once leased. He was small, so we were going to put him on the right-hand side of the trailer, but thankfully the owner remembered that he had always trailered on the left side and liked to lean to the left. He had to have a solid wall on the left or he panicked. OK, no problem, we just always put him on the left.

                                I wonder if she is used to trailering on the left and somehow leans in that direction. Was she put on the right in your trailer? Just a thought...
                                Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                                EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Do I win a prize?
                                  \"I refuse to engage in a battle of wits with someone who is unarmed.\"--Pogo

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by Mary in Area 1 View Post
                                    Do I win a prize?
                                    You can trailer her next!
                                    Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                                    EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I had a horse in Euope that would scramble....you could put her inside the trailer and she would fall and scramble. It was the MOST frightening thing to witness. Evidently it isn't soo uncommon there. She was scared and claustrophobic. The cure was to load her into a totally open trailer with no partition then slowly close her in and let her stand.......eventually we progressed to moving very slowly. It was a gradual process but eventually she would trailer fine again.

                                      This all started after my crazy German riding instructor hauled her to a show without me and pulled the trailer upwards of 90+ miles an hour. I was told later she did not enjoy the ride. HMMMM
                                      The rider casts his heart over the fence,
                                      the horse jumps in pursuit of it.

                                      –Hans-Heinrich Isenbart

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        I don't know if this mare had a bad ride before. And maybe she is anxious/claustrophobic. She was certainly shaking like a leaf when I checked her after she almost collapsed.

                                        However, the whole experience has made me a lot more leery about hauling other peoples' horses as a favor.

                                        It's easy to take trailering for granted and overlook how many things can go wrong -- and that can have catastrophic consequences.
                                        Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                                        EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

                                        Comment

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