Posted by: Realist | January 7, 2009

Trailering Perfect Storm

Yesterday my wife trailered a friend’s horse to the vet, and a simple trip ended in tragedy. Because there are multiple topics, I’ll start from the beginning and split this into multiple posts.

Our friend’s horse had to be taken to the vet for a simple examination. She asked us to trailer the mare, and we of course obliged. As we’ve done with other horses, we asked if we could load the mare a few days before to make sure she loaded, was comfortable with the trailer, etc. This mare was 3-legged lame and the owner didn’t want the additional stress of practice loading. (In hindsight, this was a warning sign, as trailering a lame horse is not a great idea.)

On the day of trailering, the friend’s horse would not load. My wife tried the Dually halter but the horse was not trained to it and simply pulled back even more. Somehow they got the horse loaded (I wasn’t there). Although we always trailer with shipping boots and sometimes even with a head bumper, this owner didn’t want to use them. I learned to use such protection the hard way, as Montana once reared up in the trailer while it was parked and cut both his head and his fetlock. I’ve also learned that a horse needs to get comfortable with shipping boots before trailering.

So onward to the vet they trailer with a lame horse who wasn’t used to the trailer and wasn’t wearing any protection.

They arrived at the vet’s parking lot just fine. Then the horse started acting up, the trailer rocked badly, and the horse made quite a bit of noise banging on the trailer. After a few minutes, she somehow got herself up and over the chest bar in our Brenderup Baron TC. I never realized this was a common scenario until I googled it after it happened to us. I was surprised at the numerous stories I found on the Internet where this happened. It almost makes me want to get a stock trailer with no chest bar. I wonder if because the horse was 3-legged lame, the movement of trailering caused her enough pain that she reared up over the chest bar. But that is total speculation.

Somehow the mare extricated herself from on top of the chest bar and fell to the floor underneath it. Everytime she tried to get up she ran into the chest bar and was knocked back down to the floor. She struggled quite a bit and was kicking everything in sight. I’m amazed she didn’t put a hoof through the side of the Brenderup. She even kicked open one of the escape doors and broke off the latch.

A couple times the mare tried to exit out the escape door. I had heard stories of horses doing this, but I didn’t ever think it would actually happen. I always figured a horse knew better than to try to squeeze through such a small opening. Yet again I’m amazed at how horses can hurt themselves and how, when panicked, lose all common sense.

The owner jumped into the trailer trying to calm her horse. She ended up getting kicked in the keg, cut her hand, and banged up on the side of her face. Boy, when a downed horse kicks, it kicks hard and fast.

We didn’t know how to remove the chest bar since the older Brenderups do not have quick release pins. The mare’s owner called fire and rescue hoping they could cut the chest bar from the trailer. My wife was able to call Brenderup and they told us how to remove the chest bar by unscrewing the eye bolts which hold it in. Now I know why Clinton Anderson says that every piece of a trailer has to be removable.

Unfortunately, by the time we removed the chest bar, the horse lay on the trailer floor and had given up trying to get up. She had a pretty severe 4″ long cut on her hind fetlock down to the tendon, had a cut on the top of her head, and most likely had lots of other minor bruises and lacerations.

(The rest of this story continues in the next post.)

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Responses

  1. Holy Jumpin Jehosaphat

    I always had a not so great feeling about those Benderup Trailers, and this sure backs it up.

    So?? What happened???


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