Monday, June 3, 2013

Misadventures In Hauling

First off, everyone is ok.  My horses weren't involved and I'm waiting for a vet update on the one that was.

But, the bad news is that Denali's Mom is no longer the only one to have left blood smeared around in one of my trailers...

Yesterday (after a great jump school on the Big Mare) I hitched up the rig to go fetch a freshly bought horse for another one of S's clients.  The new horse was at a barn about an hour away but it was a nice sunny Sunday and The Boy even volunteered to go with me.  (so glad he was there).

We were picking up a 4 year old Hanoverian mare from a breeder who had a dispersal auction on Saturday as she's retiring and opted to clear the barn in one go, rather than slowly sell off her horses and have to continue to operate the farm.  I know the breeder - she's a fixture in the area, and I know her horses.  They are predominately Jumpers, but she's had some very successful Dressage horses out of her barn as well.

Anyway, when we pulled in all of the paperwork was organized and ready to go.  They pulled the mare out of her stall and she looked adorable and as quiet and soft as she had been reported to be.

My antenna started going up though when I took the lead and asked if it was ok "to cross tie her here while I put on her wraps?"

response:  "weeelll, she doesn't really cross tie and I don't think she's ever had wraps on before."

                 "actually I don't think she's ever been in a trailer before! ha!"

Ummmmm pardon?

Okay... so I had The Boy hold the (very lovely, if VERY green) mare while I wrapped her front legs.  She was not interested in having her hinds done but didn't bat a lash at her fronts.  So we went with that. 

Then we walked out to the driveway did some (rudimentary) leading exercises and got relaxed.  Then we introduced the trailer.  She calmly sniffed everything, ate carrots standing on the ramp and was perfectly happy to step on, and back off when asked. 

After a few minutes I asked her to get all four feet in the trailer/on the ramp and she complied.  Her eyeball got a bit nervous but she happily ate carrots and even walked herself all the way on without being asked.

I opted to ask her to back off (I feel like a few good practice exits is a good thing) and she was very relaxed and tidy with her feet.  No bolting backwards, no panicky scrambling, just a good effort with a tad worried eyeball.

We washed/rinsed/repeated this cycle a few times before closing the divider and butt bar on her, patting her nicely and letting her munch hay.

After a few minutes of just standing nicely I buttoned up the trailer and we got underway. 

When the truck shifted into gear I hear a few scrambling footsteps but I figured she was just adjusting her balance.

Then all hell broke loose and it sounded like someone was firing cannons off inside my rig.  I looked in the review mirror and saw the trailer rocking more wildly than I ever have and knew it was bad.  The Boy slammed the truck into park and we ran back to the trailer (which was still being kicked to high hell and rocking like mad).

The volume and severity of the kicks told me that she wasn't standing where she should be.  It sounded like panic and it sounded really, really bad. 

Not knowing where the mare was in the trailer, I cracked one of the upper tail curtains and peeked inside expecting to see a leg removed and the mare down on the ground caught on the divider.

She was, thankfully, still upright, but that was about all that was good about the situation.

She had gotten over the chest bar and wrapped herself around the head divider so that her head and neck were over on the right hand side, her shoulder was caught on the divider, and her hind legs were about where her shoulder should have been.

In her scrambling she had nearly kicked out the left side door (I could see daylight all around the bottom) and she had ripped the chest bar bolts off the side of the trailer, leaving the chest bar pinned in on the center divider and singing menacingly between her hind legs. 
This is my trailer.  with a brown "horse" showing you where it should be
This is sorta what happened.  Red delineates the suspended but detached chest bar, head divider that was bent out of place and main divider that I slide over to make room for an exit.

At this point the mare freaked out and tried to back up (a little) but she was pretty panicked, especially when the chest bar inhibited her progress. 

Also at this point some asshole thought it would be a good idea to OPEN THE SIDE door (really dude, the mare tried to climb out the roof vent, I don't think she'd hesitate for a second to bludgeon herself out the side door...). That got shouted down, but he did open the drop down grate and she sliced her head up something nice frantically trying to shove her face out and in and out again.


Anyway, with the tail curtains open, I could reach over the secured ramp and drop the butt bars which allowed me to slide the middle divider over to the right.  I was hoping this would encouraging her to back into the open space and not continue to scramble around the front.

When the mare stayed quiet, I lowered the ramp slowly, and she continued to stay put.

My biggest concern was her slicing up her legs and she backed over/past the swinging chest bar.  At this point The Boy (against my protestations) climbed into the trailer taking refuge on the right side of the divider.  He wanted to try and drop the chest bar entirely, but that meant removing a pin and lifting out the right side of it.  of course the pin at this point was right in front of her hip and brushing against her belly.  Not an easy spot to manipulate without freaking her out.

He claimed that the mare "would never be able to get to where he was" but given her contortion around the head divider I thought that was a stupid assumption to make.  Turns out she was totally ok with him where he was, but he couldn't get the pin out as she had bent it pretty drastically when she climbed over it. 

Eventually, The Boy grabbed the mare's head and gently encouraged her to back herself around and out the way she came.  To her credit she went slowly, and backed off the trailer better than some horses who haul without such drama.  Expecting a more... tumultuous exit, everyone had cleared away from the ramp so no one caught her when she got off, so she trotted herself politely back to her stall. 

Once we got a hold of her I ran my hands down her legs breathed a sigh of relief when we didn't find any massive cuts or crippling sensitive spots.  Her face got the worst of the cuts from when that dude opened the drop down.  The boy went to double check her face under her forelock and we all gasped a little as her forelock lifted up with a huge flap of skin.  It looked normal when her forelock was down, but when you raised it up a 3"x2" section of skin came up with it.  Stitches. Definitely in need of stitches.

(note on head wound: usually I haul every horse with a head bumper.  I opted not to put one on the mare since she has only 2 weeks under saddle and no experience with weird things over her ears/head.  Since she didn't display a desire to throw her head up when we practiced loading and I thought there was a bigger risk of her rubbing it off/getting it over her eyes, than of her climbing up into the front of my trailer and somehow slicing her forehead open)

I called the owner, who okayed a local vet coming out to do stitches and she assured me that it sounded like we hadn't done anything rash or unusual.  She also told me to make my way home and not bother waiting for the vet, so we did.

The trailer looked a little grisly.  There were hoof marks up higher than I'd ever seen and bloody smears all over windows and walls from the head wound.  But all in all I'm quite pleased with how the trailer handled the situation.

1) my safety tie pulled apart like it should and freed the mare's head.  It left a nice little catch rope for us to grab onto once she came out.

2) the chest bar gave way under her weight.  the group of onlookers all decided it was better to have it come down than for us to have to somehow get the mare back over it or have her high centered on it.

3) The walls held.  A door and frame need to be replaced, but nothing punctured from the frantic kicking.  I have a friend who's horse kicked through the pass-through door in a slant load.  The door was particle board fill with a thin aluminum skin outside.  The horse spent 30 minutes trying to pull it's hoof back through the hole and all but de-gloved itself.  Thankfully the divider wall to the tack room on my Featherlite is just as sturdy as the exterior walls and through all the mare's scrambling she didn't poke a hole in it.  I think this kept her safer.

I got a text update from the owner that the vet has a few concerns about "lower leg injuries" (no details) and made noise about a possible stifle injury.  I really, (really really really really really) hope that everything turns out to be bumps and bruises and nothing more.  but only time will tell.

The trailer is in for repairs as well. But trailers are easy to fix.  Rivets and parts can be ordered.  There's no soft tissue damage, no PRP, MRI's, etc to be done.  I'm significantly less worried bout that

It was not an ideal Sunday.


  1. Oh my. Wow. What an experience. Hope the mare is ok.

  2. Scary. Hope she turns out ok.

  3. Oh my goodness. I'm so sorry that you and the mare had to go through that - how awful. I hope she's OK and I'm glad to hear that your trailer is mostly OK. I also hope the mare's owner is sensible about the whole thing.

  4. Bummer. Talk about scary - glad everyone was able to walk away.

  5. Wow. I'm so glad that everyone was okay and that the mare hopefully turns out to need nothing more than stitches. This is definitely one of my major fears when it comes to hauling horses for other people. But then Murphy's law seems to rule my world. I agree with Jenj, I hope the owner stays sensible about the whole thing. My rule of thumb with horses green to trailers is to haul them loose in a box stall at first. I leave the slants open or pull out the center divider in a straight. I've often thought I was being silly and paranoid, but after your experience on Sunday I think I will stick to my guns. Oh, and huge kudos to The Boy for being so brave. He definitely gets a gold star!

  6. Eeek! Sorry you had to go through that.

  7. Yikes. That sounds terrifying!!! I'm glad you guys are okay and I hope the mare is okay as well.

  8. Yikes!!! This hits all to close to home when I picked up Henry- he tried to climb through the manger/front window.

    I too agree that the owner is reasonable and covers all your costs- I know I did.

    Kinda crazy that they wanted you to haul a horse that had never been in a trailer!!!

  9. Oh wow. That's nuts. Someone recently asked to rent my trailer for some big trips this summer and we just had to say no, too much of a liability. This post confirms my decision was the right one, you just never know! You try to do something nice and all hell breaks loose! Glad you ALL are ok!!!!

  10. Jeez. Glad that you and the boy are alright. I can't believe you guys were never told she'd never hauled until you picked her up! Hopefully the mares alright and doesn't have serious injuries... I too feel as though it is the mares owners responsibility to pay for the repairs on your trailer... I know I would if my horse did something like that.

  11. This really pisses me off. My mare had NEVER been tied when I bought her from the breeder and she had never ever been on a float either. The poor thing was terrified the whole 4 hour trip home and luckily she didn't act on it. I had to teach a 4 yo warmblood to tie up and to go in and out of a float peacefully. It would have been SO MUCH EASIER if the breeders had just done it when she was a weanling! Honestly - breeders who don't do ANY float training are just plain irresponsible!!

  12. Wow all I can say is that you are a wonderful friend and horse person. The breeder dropped the ball big time by not introducing the horse to trailering before she was sold. I am just sorry the horse was injured and that your trailer sustained some damage. It sounds like you went above and beyond in this situation.

  13. A friend of mine had a similar experience with a mare that she picked up and was hauling to Chicago. A few hours in to a very low drama haul, a mare did the same thing (with another horse in the trailer) in the middle of the night (dead of winter0 on a busy highway. From what I heard it was carnage. The mare survived, but I saw the trailer afterwards and it was gruesome. So glad you guys were okay throughout all of this.

  14. This is my nightmare. I hate trailers and have trailer phobia. Like big time trailer phobia. I hate them, we had to upgrade to a newer trailer to help with my phobia, but I still see this happening, every time I put one of my horses in the trailer.
    Glad everyone is okay! So scary!

  15. Wow. That is crazy. I'm glad to hear that, at least right now, it doesn't appear to be overly serious. That is my nightmare.

  16. Oh my gosh, what a horrible situation! Glad it wasn't any worse, but gosh that must have been very scary.

  17. YIKES! I'm just catching up on everyone's blogs now after my own hellish weekend. I'm so glad everyone's okay. It's nice that you're so willing to haul horses for people - you deserve better payment than this! :)

  18. Also, check this out:


Related Posts with Thumbnails