We just wrapped up a Course One Clinic in Victoria, BC. What a great group of people and horses we had in this course!
One of the topics we talked about this weekend was trailer safety and trailer loading. I am very passionate about educating my students about safety surrounding the horse trailer, as there are just so many things that can go wrong and I hear too many stories about people getting hurt in and around horse trailers.
We started out by looking at a couple trailers, and did a thorough check of the mechanics. I encourage everyone to have a professional look at their trailers on a regular basis to check for damage or wear. I also talked about all the swinging parts in a trailer, and discussed the dangers of getting caught in the swing radius of these doors, dividers and windows. I talked about the reasons that horses don’t like trailers, and how we can create the trailer to be a place of comfort for the horse. After a great discussion, the students brought their horses in and I was able to help them to load their horses safely, and help a few horses who were fearful around the trailer.
Here are some little reminders to take with you next time you are traveling with your horse:
- Do a thorough mechanical check every time you hook up.
- Be aware of the swing radius of the dividers and the doors, and avoid being in those areas. When loading or unloading, if a horse gets in a rush or anything goes wrong, then you can get seriously injured if a divider or a door swings and hits you or traps you.
- Be aware of the kick zones. When loading or unloading, doing up bum bars, closing doors and lifting ramps, be very careful to stay out of any area that you could be kicked.
- Before tying, make sure the divider, door or bum bar are holding your horse inside so they don’t try to back out and get stuck. The reason for tying is to keep the horse’s head in the proper position at the front of the trailer. When unloading, have your horse untied before opening the divider or removing the bum bar. Often you can tie and untie through a window. Don’t get trapped inside with your horse trying to get them tied or untied!
- Prepare your horse for a successful ride in the trailer by loading them inside on days that you don’t need to travel. I will often block up my trailer so that it is safe to load a horse inside, and I will have them eat their breakfast inside while the chores are being done. Don’t load a horse into a trailer that is not hooked up to a vehicle, unless you know how to block it properly to insure it won’t tip!
- If your horse does not like to load, build up the communication and the confidence away from the trailer, sending them through all sorts of obstacles and having them rest in some tight places.
Trailer safety is often a topic I cover at Course One Clinics across the country. Take a look at our schedule or events, and come out to spectate at a clinic in your area!
Be Safe and Stay Inspired by Horses!