Wednesday, November 12, 2008


This coming weekend involves a 5 hours drive to the other side of Washington State and two horses. So I thought I’d talk about a few things and the way that I do it. If you do things different, fine.

To Tie or Not To Tie

Four years ago, right after I bought my darling Angel (aka The Spotted Donkey), I loaded up to go to a lesson. I led her in, tied her with the tie strap, and as I stepped back to close the divider, she freaked out, sat down, and shook her head, rocking the trailer and raising a ruckus. The heavy duty snap on the tie strap failed at the trailer, swung around and hit me in the middle of my forehead, knocking me back, and 1100 pounds of frightened appaloosa rolled backward, over the top of me, and out of the trailer. Surprisingly, other than the monstrous goose egg that was under the split in my forehead, I was uninjured. I got very lucky that day. The horse was also uninjured, and 30 minutes later, loaded back into the trailer and we went to the lesson.

One of the gals at the lesson shared me a “DUH!” moment, though she didn’t come off that way. She said, “If you close the divider first, THEN tie her in, she has nothing to pull back against.

Hmm….OK… My trailer is a Circle J Outback, three-horse slant load. There’s a long low window on the butt side with plexiglass that slides out. On the head side, there are drop down window, with bar grills. There is no running board to step up on, on the wheel well, and it’s hard to reach the first slot. So it’s very cumbersome to load the horse, then go outside to tie the head up, especially if the horse has her head down either looking under the divider, or searching for the cookie that got dropped while loading.

So, when I trailer, I don’t tie the horses in. I tie the lead rope around their neck so that they look like those cavalry horses of old, minus the saddle. While trailer is stopped, the horses can drop their heads, clear their sinuses, whatever.

Shaving or Not

Normally, not. By normally, I mean short rides of an hour or less. Anything over that, yes, I’ll put some shavings on the butt side only. I won’t use pellets because they’re too slippery on a solid surface. Just the shaving, and then, not very much.

Windows Open or Not

DEFINITELY NOT! There is so much crap on the road that can so easily be flipped up and hit them in the face. I know there are screens that you can buy that will offer SOME protection, but in my opinion, not enough. The windows on my trailer have slider windows that are screened that only open 4 inches. A neighbor puts fly masks on her horses but runs everywhere with her windows open. Still not good enough for me. Besides, would YOU like air blowing in your face the whole trip? This means 5 hours of cold wind blowing in your face while only short stops (mom’s potty breaks).

Some people ask, “What about ventilation?” I have roof vents over every hole. The front one is opened to the front to catch the air. The other two are opened to the back to dispel the air. Also, I keep the buttside open (plexiglass removed). PLENTY of ventilation! Even so, when I picked up Honey and Heddy in January, they still were warm in the trailer, to the point where their wet hide was steaming when we stopped to fuel up.

Clean Out

After EVERY trip. And if they pee’d in there, it get hosed out and the underside sprayed down. Once a year, the floor boards are inspected at the dealership to ensure there isn’t any dry rot starting.

Other Safety

The pin - We have a locking pin that hold the stinger in the receiver. I’ve heard nightmare stories about idiots and a$$hole pulling the pin.

The chains – I twist the chains on themselves to shorten them, then cross them to attach. That way, if ever, God forbid, that the hitch comes off the ball, it will land in the cradle created by the chains.

The tires – On May 17, 2008, we had a tire on the trailer separate on the highway going 70 miles per hour. A 7 inch piece of rubber was flung AHEAD of us, hit out windshield, and landed in the bed of our truck. Luckily, we were empty, so we weren’t stranded on the highway with a horse. What we learn was that it costs about $600 to put 4 new tires on our trailer. We also learned that if the trailer is going to sit on the south side of the barn, we should probably put up some plywood to block the sun from beating directly on the tires. Out of the four original tires, all but one had separated. Only one had failed. We also found out that we still hadn’t bought a spare. So, one wheel and 4 new tires later, we were back in business.

Start and Stop - Slowly! Early! Gently! I totally recommend that you get someone to drive around while you stand in the back of your trailer. That’s what your horse goes through. Some people even have cameras that relay to a laptop so they can watch their horses throughout the ride.

Hug your horses and be safe!


2toads2luv said...

Hey Karen! Got your email, but I've been out of town and limited email. I haven't been lurking around for very long, just a few weeks or so. I wasn't a blogger till I stumbled onto Fugly's site, and found you from there.

On the trailering issue, I never tie my horses up either. And after your story, never will!! Glad you're still around to tell the story, that could have been ugly.

Also, one of the best things my girlfriend and I ever did was take turns riding in the trailer. I never would have guessed at the amound of NOISE! I was always so concerned with ruts, washboard, and bumps in the road, but those are barely noticeable. It's definitely the starting, stopping, and turns that make the biggest impact.

And I do throw shavings in the trailer if it's going to be a longer ride. I've had a few horses who wouldn't pee if it splattered back on their lgs. Shavings take care of that problem.

And I'm ok with the windows being down, as long as there is a heavy screen in place. I actually passed a trailer once with ALL FOUR horse's heads out the window, ON THE FREEWAY. I could not believe it. Do they come any stupider than that??

Karen V said...

I totally agree with you on the horses heads sticking out of the trailer.

One thing I DIDN'T touch on was the loose leadrope hanging out the window. It it were to go under the tire, guess what...dead horse.

That's the main reason I tie the leadrope around their neck, and keep the windows closed.

If I have only one horse in the trailer, I WILL open the other windows, just not the one in front of the horse. But again, my trailer doesn't have the heavy screens!

I'm glad you found me! AND Fugly! Although Fugly can get Ugly, I have learned a lot from folks over there...when they are feeling helpful...

I also found a great new friend via Fugly and my blog - Candice from Minnesota! We've been e-mail buddies for months now and she's coming to stay with me for the BRN4D Finals at the end of May. I can't wait!