While it is true that trailers have come a long, long way since then, it is still really quite remarkable that horses trust us enough to step into a noisy moving can. To them it must look very frightening. Just imagine that you were a horse and your owner wanted to put you into this:
Does it surprise you that many horses have trouble being convinced to get into a trailer?
I sold my wonderful horse, Tai, when I got married but I warned my husband that when the last child went to first grade, I was going to get a horse again. Twenty-five years later, Nick went to first grade and I went horse-shopping. I also went trailer shopping and I came home with a brand new trailer that looked pretty much like this, only hunter green inside and out.
I had no idea that my wonderful new thoroughbred, Kit was cluster-phobic! The dark, enclosed trailer put him over the edge. He became harder and harder to load. After a few trips, he lost control and went crazy in the trailer. He bashed the back door with two-hoof kicks and climbed up on the front feeder and bashed out the front window. I needed a crow bar to get the door open and was finally able to get him out. I put him in a pen at the stable and drove to Parker Trailers, where I had purchased the trailer. I said, with tears in my eyes, "I can't use this trailer." They took one look at the trailer and said, "We'll get you something else." They took my bashed up trailer as a trade-in (and gave me a very generous amount considering all the work they would have to do to get it fixed again to re-sell) and sent me off with a white, slant-load stock trailer complete with dressing room for me.. Kit happily walked right in this trailer and has never been a problem since.
Over the years, I have heard so many horror stories about horses and trailers. Here is a picture of a horse that tried to dive out the window. They used a picnic table shoved up beneath the window to get the horse out. Believe it or not, this horse was not hurt.
Other horses have not been so lucky. Two weeks ago, I was expecting Ron from Arizona to bring his two horses to my house for the weekend. Ron had been planning for a year to ride the Colorado Trail. This beautiful and, in places, challenging trail is five hundred miles long and winds its way from Waterton Canyon near Denver down to Durango. It has been built and is maintained by the Colorado Trail Foundation in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service. It is broken into sections for easy on and off and re-supplying. Thus, hikers and equestrians love this trail. Ron's plan was to take his two horses, one to ride and one to carry supplies and ride the trail in thirty days, taking Sunday's off. He was driving up to Denver when his mare started kicking the back door of the trailer, broke it open and slid under the rump strap. At the time, Ron was driving at sixty-five miles per hour and by the time he was able to stop, the mare had been dragged and so damaged that she had to be put down. This is so very, very sad for both Ron and his mare.
I'm sure you have heard of other terribly sad stories as we drive around the country with our horses in tow. Writing my trail-guide books: Riding Colorado, Riding Colorado II and the one I am working on now: Riding Colorado III, means I have put thousands of miles on my trailer (and it shows, believe me!) Add driving to horse shows and I get even more miles. Even though I have had a lot of trailer driving experience, it is still a worry. I wish I had one of these in my car:
So, after I load up my horses, re-check my connection and doors, I always say a prayer!
Other safety tip: Have your trailer floor boards, brakes and ties checked regularly.