Horse Cannot Balance In Trailer

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Horse Cannot Balance In Trailer

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    09-23-2013, 08:40 AM
Exclamation Horse Cannot Balance In Trailer

My appaloosa mare, 18 years old, has issues maintaining her balance in the trailer on right hand curves and turns. She's fine on left turns and straight aways. No matter how severe the turn or how slow we drive she throws her weight to the divider (she stands on left side, we will experiment with her on right side this week) and slides down the divider. She's gone so far as to sit down. Her right shoulder seems to slide first, then her hip. She's getting real cut up and I'm not sure what's going on with her. Just got a trailer cam so now I can see what she's doing.
Had 1 episode at the beginning of the year where she was trailered alone and went down and when she came back up she pushed the divider out- also a right hand turn. Since then no issues until last weekend when she sat down and pushed the divider out again, injuring herself but not the horse on the right side thank goodness. I did not notice and scrambling or excessive kicking before the beginning of the year. Harbors no ill will towards the trailer, loads just fine every time. I don't know how she's not traumatized.
No other balances issues. History of squamous cell carcinoma tumors on each eye ball. Removed with cryo therapy Nov. 2012.
Trailer is a classic style two horse straight load with front mangers. Good quality, thick rubber mats on floor. We are working on procurring thinner rubber for the walls. So any known vendors would be helpful as well.
Thank you!
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    09-23-2013, 08:44 AM
I have a horse who has a hell of a time balancing in a straight load. We tied the divider to the side to make the area he stands bigger and he hasn't gotten cut up since. It only works if you're going to be hauling one horse at a time.
    09-23-2013, 08:51 AM
Super Moderator
Some horses 'scramble' or 'climb' in a straight load trailer. Usually they have been driven to fast around turns and curves and they all do it for turns one direction. Some of these horses do go down or can push so hard on one side that they make severe abrasions on their hips. I have seen horses that leaned and pushed so hard that they exposed their hip cone on one side.

It is very difficult to fix, but there are some things that can help.

First, I would borrow a stock trailer and see if the horse is OK if it can stand diagonally and spread its feet apart. A lot of horses that start doing this will only haul in a stock trailer after they get started.

I would also be curious if the divider goes all the way to the floor. Some horse start doing this and must be able to stand with their legs spread to feel balanced.

No one know exactly what goes through a horse's head, but one thing is sure: Once they get something in their head, you can have a really difficult time changing their mind about it.
    09-23-2013, 09:17 AM
She does have quite the abrasion, in small multiple circles on her right hip.
My divider does not go all the way to the floor. I considered making that modification but after some research it seems most horses need the space to spread their feet. I've heard a slant load could benefit her because of the different angle to balance on. I'm not sure where I can borrow one but I'll look.

Thank you for responding so quickly.
    09-23-2013, 09:51 AM
Super Moderator
Horses always stand diagonally when they are able to. That one front foot that they can put out in front of them to the right really helps balance them. I would not own another trailer that is a straight load. I will only pull a slant load or a stock trailer where horses can stand at an angle.

When straight load trailers were all that was available, there were many horses that became 'leaners' and 'scramblers'. All had been hauled too fast around curves and corners and all leaned only one direction.

People that haul horses need to learn how to drive with them.

You should always slow down before a curve or corner and never change speed on the curve or corner. Never accelerate until the horse trailer is straight behind you and not still coming out of the corner. Don't change lanes abruptly, either.

You should slow down to a crawl when you go around 'S' curves. Horses cannot change directions of lean very easily. I am sure this is why I saw so many scramblers and leaners when I lived in the mountains of Colorado. Every road had constant curves changing directions with each one.

I think everyone new to hauling horses should have to ride around town in one without holding on to anything with their hands. It would give them a new appreciation for how a horse has to hold its balance on corners and stops.
    09-23-2013, 11:33 AM
Ya I'm super paranoid about pulling them. I always go super slow around all curves. I live in MO right now and it's super hilly and curvy and all our roads angle around the curve. We'll be moving back to CO, Springs area and they will probably be making the trip in the straight load.
My mare didn't do much trailering until she came to be with me 2 years ago. Since then she's done both short 20 minute trips and longer 2 hour trips.

Do you think it would benefit her to put her on the other side so she can lean on the full wall instead of just the divider?
    09-23-2013, 11:52 AM
Originally Posted by Cherie    
Horses always stand diagonally when they are able to.
I don't often disagree with Cherie, but I have a horse that is living proof this statement is incorrect.

My scrambler travels in the same direction regardless of whether he has the whole two-horse trailer, one bay, or the divider tied across. Dead straight on the right hand [driver's, in Aus] side. He will NOT load on an angle load and will NOT load on the left.

Mine travels better with boots on. Some are worse. He's better tied [some need to be loose], and he's better in a wooden horse trailer. He needs to be trailered either with company or with the divider tied across/removed. He likes a dark trailer with a wooden floor and breeching chains rather than bars or doors.

This makes my life rather difficult because my OTHER horse travels beautifully, but will only load on a nice light open metal trailer with extended width, extended length bays.
    09-23-2013, 12:09 PM
Super Moderator
I have never seen a horse that would rather stand straight. Every horse I have put in a stock trailer and tied to the front or the left side has always stood at an angle if there is room. If two are tied to the front, they usually just stand straight or angled a little if there is room.

I have seen many horses that stand facing the rear if they are turned loose in a stock trailer.

I agree, that once a horse has been fouled up for hauling they are a pain the butt -- forever.
    09-23-2013, 04:26 PM
Like I said Cherie, my 18yo gelding is living proof they do exist! I don't know if that has to do with the fact that he was heavily campaigned as a young [<10yo] horse and transported up and down a state that's bigger than TX and AZ put together, or what, but no matter what, he puts himself up against the right wall of the trailer. He could have all the room in the world and that's still where he'd stand.
    09-30-2013, 04:13 PM
Well, we tested her on the opposite side of the trailer. She did 100x better. She leans fully on the full wall but doesn't slide down it or slip. She's no longer throwing her body weight against the wall or divider.
I'm not sure why she doesn't better on that side but she is.
I'd still love to get a slant but that seems to be in the future, not a now type thing now that her safety isn't an issue anymore.

appaloosa, balance, problem, trailer

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