Archives MAIN PAGE

Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

Professional support for you and your horse!

Severe trailering problem


I just got home from a terrible time trying to load a horse. I am trying to rescue this horse but the owners are only letting me take her and not her herd mates. She is a nice horse in a bad situation. So I got there today with a 2 horse straight load trailer parked far away from the barn. I walked the mare up to the trailer and she was no at all interested. I tried lunging her and getting her in, giving her treats, hay, grain, etc. and nothing worked. Finally after about 90 minutes of this we use a butt rope and got her in. Everything was fine for about 5 minutes until we were ready to leave she started to jump around and somehow ended up with her front feet in the feeder trying to get out of the little door up front. I tried to calm her down but nothing worked and before I could get her out she wedged most of her body and now three feet into the feeder. My husband ended up reaching over her untying her and using a rope with a slip-knot in it to get her feet out and we back her out. She cut her legs all up. I was afraid to put her back in so we stood her outside of the trailer and called it a day. Now when she got out of the trailer she was worked up but not freaking out or anything. How do I ever get her back into a trailer again? I need to get her out of the situation she is in. Please help, any suggestions would be greatly appraised. Thank you for taking the time to read my letter.


Hi Vanessa,

Sounds like quite a wreck. What a shame. There were a few things that contributed to that bad situation happening. First off, moving the horse without any companionship presents a problem. The horse was probably herd-bound. so, leaving its home and pasture mates creates a problem of fear and insecurity initially. Unless a horse has been acclimated (trained) for smaller two horse trailers, they frequently resist going in them and generally don't like them. They are too small mostly. Also, unless they are in very good repair, a horse will sense quickly that the trailer is not totally safe (sagging floor boards, a lot of banging and clanging noise, bad springs, etc.). Also, if any force or coercion was used to get the horse in the trailer, the assent of fear had already begun in the horse. Remember, as soon as the horse loaded, the very instant, you should have gotten moving. The movement will most often keep the horse's attention on balancing. Allowing even a few moments or minutes between when a fearful horse is loaded and when the trailer starts to move is when the horse will frequently begin to try to get out of the trailer by doing what your horse did. Do not delay in moving the trailer as soon as the horse is loaded. There is no guarantee that the horse will not try to get out of the trailer even when you are moving the rig. However, it has been my experience that just balancing will most often keep the horse's attention as opposed to trying to climb out somehow. I would not use the two-horse smaller trailer if possible. Borrow or rent (if you have to) a nice big, slant-load, goose neck trailer. Take some time to train the horse to load and unload calmly. I have written on this a lot and there are descriptions of trailer loading in the archives of my help center within the website. I also have a DVD on trailer loading you would find extremely helpful. Forget trying to force or coerce the horse. Rather train the horse appropriately. Simply rescuing the horse from a bad home is not enough to really do the horse justice. You must train and interact with the horse appropriately for it to really have a much better life than it had. Take some time to educate yourself about gentle training principles and techniques. Then you will really be able to help this horse become better adjusted to the world of humans it has to exist in. Seems little has been done with this horse in that regard. Of course, you could just house and feed the horse. That would be OK. But if you really want to do something big for the horse, learn some really good training principles, horse psychology and more. You and the horse will benefit tremendously. Good luck and please keep me posted. You might consider investing a little money in educating yourself via some training DVD's. A visual aid is extrememly helpful and will teach you quickly. I have several that would prove invaluable to you in my shopping corral in the website. It is as much about the human and their knowledge and skill (and maybe more) than it is about the horse.

Best Regards, Franklin

Look for: