Trailer Safety - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 06-16-2010, 04:03 PM Thread Starter
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Trailer Safety

With the recent tragedy of a horse falling out of a moving trailer and being drug to its death, I think its entirely appropriate to talk about what to look for when inspecting a trailer and a few quick pre-trip checks, and double checks before you start rolling.
You can perform a thorough inspection of your trailer yourself or hire it out. Just make sure that all vital areas are covered.
Before you load your horses into the trailer check these areas:
Floor Is it free of anything that a horse could slip on, including manure? Remember that wood and metal floors can be slippery, especially when wet. Consider putting down rubber matting that is non-slip and provides some shock absorption.
Latches and Hinges Are they solid and operating properly?
Secure Loose Items - Don't leave buckets, leads or other items loose in the front of the trailer where they could slide under the horse's feet.
Make sure the hitch coupler is locked.

Loading your horses This can be a point of contention
I personally do not tie my horses when in the trailer. I prefer to let them find their own footing and balance.
For those that decide to tie please keep these few thoughts in mind
Use a trailer tie instead of a lead rope. Lead ropes can dangle out of doors and windows and become entangled with disastrous results.
Don't tie too high or low. Your horse should be able to move its head up and down naturally. Tie too low and they could put a foreleg over the tie.
Put the largest horse on the road side. Roads are higher in the middle so moisture runs off easier. The trailer will be more balanced with a single or heavier horse on the higher (driver's) side.

After the horses are loaded youve still got a few quick safety checks to perform. Ill check these items a couple of times before I start rolling down the road.
Make sure that all latches are secured and locked in position. Most trailer doors have a couple of locking mechanisms, use them.

I hope that these check points help prevent further accidents.

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post #2 of 8 Old 06-18-2010, 05:18 PM
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Excellent advice. You should also talk about unloading as well. I have always been taught that butt bars don't come down until the horse is untied. This can prevent many bad accidents.

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post #3 of 8 Old 06-27-2010, 11:12 PM
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Originally Posted by grayshell38 View Post
Excellent advice. You should also talk about unloading as well. I have always been taught that butt bars don't come down until the horse is untied. This can prevent many bad accidents.
I don't quite understand that. I always thought it's the other way around.
What if the horse starts backing up rapidly while you are still behind it in the trailer? In our case it's a four horse trailer. My horse always goes to the front, I put the butt bar up, then there is one empty space behind him. I always open the butt bar first and then untie him. Mind you I am never alone to load or unload him, so when the butt bar is opened, somebody is at the front with him to then untie him.
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post #4 of 8 Old 06-27-2010, 11:21 PM
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I'm sure it must depend on the horse, but around here we ALWAYS untie first, then undo the butt bar, for the reason stated above. Once before I got into that habit, I forgot about the tie, undid the butt bar and asked my mare to back...well, she did...and freaked out when she realized she was still tied, ended up panicking and snapping the tie, which was one of those bungee type ties. I was lucky that's ALL that happened...

Anyway, I always make sure to untie before I even get the back door open now ;)

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post #5 of 8 Old 06-27-2010, 11:22 PM
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No-I also always learned untie first (sometimes I don't even tie them if not going far). Both of mine come slowly out with a tug of the tail, but still, I am off to one side when I undo the bar.....

I also have the policy that is like AAA for horse trailers.....US Rider. Several of my friends also have it, one has had to use it and swears by it. They are fast, come with a trailer so that they can safely take your horses to shelter if need be. WHen she used it it was with an empty trailer, and their first question was "are your horses safe and ok?" And they were still there in 1/2 hour. Well worht the peace of mind, IMO.

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post #6 of 8 Old 06-27-2010, 11:22 PM
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Floating, loading and unloading is a very personal thing. Everyone has a different routine, and mostly, those routines work for them.

My routine now is different to what it used to be when we had a two horse straight load - We now have a 3 horse angle load.

It also depends on the horses i'm floating.

With Bundy, I lead him in, clip him onto the trailer tie, walk out, and then close the divider. When I unload, I just do the opposite. Open the divider, wander up, unclip the trailer tie and clip on the leadrope, and out we come. However he is quiet and a really good floater, and if he tries to turn around before I get to him, he just hits the tie and stops.

With Latte, who is still very green at loading, we do it differently. It takes a while to get her on, with me leading and dad behind, now with the rope. Once on, I stay at her head while dad closes the divider. I then tie her to the trailer tie and duck out. The same when unloading - I duck under and in with her, unclip her, and wait until dad undoes the divider, and then ensure she walks off calmly and quietly as she had a habit of bolting off, scattering anyone in her way.

We have a camera in our float so we can see that the horses are standing, how they corner, if they are down, and adjust our driving accordingly.

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post #7 of 8 Old 06-29-2010, 11:44 AM
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We always unclip our horses first, and then let the butt bar down. Of course, we always have another person helping us unload the horses, so I am sure that if we were alone we would have to resort to the fact of letting the butt bar down first and then unclipping; I think that most of our horses would handle that just fine.

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post #8 of 8 Old 06-29-2010, 05:11 PM
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I guess everybody has his/her own way. It makes sense to untie first, but with my horse he sometimes rushes out of the trailer so I want to make sure somebody is by his head when the butt bar is taken down and then untie him.
We have to work on loading/unloading more, that's for sure.
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