Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Trailer Loading Tips (Part 1 of 4))

by Jessica Crouch

Spring is here - show season's in full swing and the trails are beckoning. Since there's a good chance you are eager to trailer your horse somewhere, I'd like to share with you a few trailering lessons I've learned along the way.

LISTEN TO YOUR HORSE: A while back my little palomino gelding, Tucker, began letting me know he didn't want to get in the trailer. He'd never had a problem before, so I was a little confused.  Was he unhappy with our riding sessions? Would he just rather stay home and eat grass rather than go to work? This went on for a couple of days and got worse until it dawned on me what was going on - my "sweet" little pinto mare, Fancy, had learned she could reach under the divider and bite Tucker's legs while we were driving. She was having a great time paying him back for all the times he'd teased her. Solution - Fancy gets her head tied up (after the divider's closed) so she can't reach down and bite Tucker. Tucker is once again happy to climb in beside her. MORAL - if your horse starts having issues with the trailer, pay attention.  He might be trying to tell you something! I heard a story about a similar problem with a horse becoming reluctant to load - turned out wasps were building a nest in the trailer!

DOUBLE CHECK EVERYTHING: True story - One of my friends, while traveling across country, learned the hard way to lock all her trailer doors and double check them after stops. She stopped at a gas station, went inside for a moment, and some kids thought it would be funny to open the back trailer door and let the horses out. She didn't walk around her trailer when she got back into the truck, started to drive off, and saw the door swinging.  Fortunately her horse kept her wits together and didn't jump out. The pranksters back at the gas station had a good laugh, but thankfully nobody was hurt. Ever since she told me about that, I check all around my truck - BOTH my hitch and doors - if I stop and have to leave the trailer, and I try to keep things locked.

NEVER TIE A HORSE IN A TRAILER UNTIL THE PARTITION OR DOOR IS CLOSED: That's one of the FIRST safety tips I tell people when we talk about trailer loading. Take the time to work with the horse until they can confidently load and stand quietly while you close the divider and latch it securely. Only then tie them, if desired.  Next month we'll talk about why.

In the meantime, try to get out on the trails and enjoy the beautiful weather!!!
The author's daughter Hannah, on Tucker, following Mom's advice!

Next: Part 2 of 4

(Originally published June 2014)