Loading a Horse into a Trailer: A skill every horse and horse owner should master
Jun 7, 2011
While the previous blog "I am a Horse Whisperer" makes for an amusing anecdote, the simple fact is that too many horses cannot load into a trailer and too many horse owners are not prepared to load. You might think that if you do not go to shows or other events that you do not need to load. "My horse doesn't go anywhere." This mentality can be very dangerous to you and your horse in an emergency situation.
What if the horse in the blog had had a fractured limb? Would fighting to get into a trailer make a broken leg easier to fix? You might think that when you have medical issues you simply call the vet and he comes out to take care of the problem. But the truth is; that while we can treat many ailments on the farm, most life-threatening emergencies must be treated at the hospital. Severe colic, fractures, joint lacerations, tendon sheath lacerations, foaling issues and severe diarrhea are just a few emergency conditions that are best treated in a hospital.
I see people with unavailable or unusable trailers almost as much as I see unloadable horses. I can't tell you how many times I have worked to keep a horse alive while a desperate owner frantically tried to find hitches, electric hook-ups, dig out vehicles, jump dead batteries, etc... trying to get a truck and trailer in working order to haul a dying horse to the hospital. Those minutes or are precious, they can mean the difference between life and death.
Some owners don't have trailers. The desperate search to find a friend to haul a horse for you in the middle of the night can be heartbreaking if your horse's life is ticking away while you try to find a phone number.
If you have a mare in foal, please think about trailering long before she is due. Foaling is fraught with complications. This is compounded by that fact that when horses' go into labor there is very little time to get the foal out alive. Any complication usually results in a dead foal. There just isn't enough time for the veterinarian to drive to your farm, diagnose an issue, resolve the issue with the limited resources at the farm, and still deliver a live foal.
Most large breeding farms take a foaling mare to the hospital at the first sign of complications. They don't wait for the veterinarian to come to the farm and make a diagnosis. They meet the veterinarian at the hospital where the foaling problem can be corrected. This is the fastest, thus most likely way to have a successful outcome. If you have a mare in foal, you should be prepared to adopt the same policy (side note: many owners choose to have their mares foal at the hospital).
- Be sure your horse can load. Practice at home when you have nowhere to go. If you need help training your horse to load, DVD's by Robert Miller, Monty Roberts, John Lyons, and Clinton Andersen are excellent. You can also hire a local trainer.
- Be sure your truck and trailer are in working order, filled with fuel, and accessible in all weather conditions.
- If you do not have a trailer have the phone numbers of two friends or two professional haulers who have committed to be available to haul your horse at any time, without notice.
- If you have a mare due to foal; have a truck and trailer hooked up, on your premises, and ready to go at any sign of foaling difficulties.