Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Trailer Accident

You see the dents? Those are from me. My trailer is aptly named the "Adventure" for good reason. I had an accident on Sunday while trailering out to McIver Park with some girlfriends. We took three trailers, four horses. I was so excited to get to use my new trailer for the first time. I loaded Maddy, she went in fine. She stomped a little bit on the ride over. I went to unload her once we arrived and as I opened her divider, she pulled back on her breakaway tie. I figured she would feel the stretch in the bungee and relax, but she started to pull harder. Silly me thought a "breakaway" tie would just break. Wrong. I was at her shoulder when she went into fight or flight mode and crashed sideways into me. She slammed me twice and the third time, she knocked me flat on my back. I remember lying there seeing a flurry of hooves. I was thinking "this is how people get trampled." I braced for impact, then I heard a the breakaway clip hit the ground and Maddy running on the gravel. I was slow to get up, a bit in shock, worried about my mare. I hobbled out, and my friends were holding Maddy, she had slipped out of her halter. She was dripping in sweat and had two large gashes on her left side from the divider hitting her. Man, I was shaken. Wow...nothing like a come to Jesus moment.

My mistakes:

The Wrong Tack: I have a breakaway halter I ALWAYS use. I am very safety-conscious when I trailer. Maddy looks like a special needs horse with her helmet and shipping boots. I lost the break-away strap on our beach trip a month ago and I hadn't replaced it. This time I used a nylon halter that is a little big. Thank god, otherwise I fear she may have broken her neck. I just ordered another breakaway halter as a back up, along with 5 replacement leathers just in case.

Breakaway ties: I thought they just snapped open with pressure. I found out they snap open when YOU pull on them, not the horse. I should have tested them just to make sure I understood how they worked.

Prior Preparation: I took for granted that Maddy would see this trailer as the same as all the others she has ridden in. I didn't practice with her before hand and get her comfortable with MY trailer. We hadn't trailered out in over a month, I should have taken the time it takes to make sure she was ready to be in my trailer.

I have been out to the barn every day to check her cuts. I am posting the pics not as a way to gross anyone out, to be vigilant about safety even when the trip seems mundane. She is healing nicely. I am on the mend too. I think about what happened and how much worse it could have been for both of us. She never stepped on me. I think that was a miracle. My friends said all they saw was my head on the floor of the trailer and her blowing up around me. I know she kept it together enough to try to keep me safe. Still, I am saddened that I had a horse that was pretty confident in trailers, and I have given her a reason not to be. We have lots of work to do, but I am determined to make my wrong a right. I want her rock solid before I ask her to do that again. I know she was terrified to load back up and get home, but she got in again for me. Isn't it amazing what they do for us? Did I mention I love this horse?

26 comments:

jacksonsgrrl said...

VERY SCARY. I'm glad you are both alright. You need a blocker tie ring. They are so awesome if your horse sets back in any fashion and can be moved around. I just got one after having a similar experience with a trailer tie while Jackson was tied to the trailer on the outside. I don't tie him while he's in the trailer, I guess there are tons of schools of thought on that one, but noone I know does it and we travel with them alot! Anyway, check out the blocker tie ring, I haven't met anyone who doesn't think they are the best invention on earth, even cowboys around here use them!!

OnTheBit said...

Oh dear your making me cry!!! That is so scary. I am glad that you and Maddie were not hurt any worse. My horse Gen was TERRIBLE in the trailer, but I learned some good things from him and luckily never had an accident (I can say that without knocking on woods because he is not going anywhere ever again). One is that I have 2 bungy cross ties because I have seen a horse hang itself on oneside nearly breaking its neck. The other is that instead of connecting my trailer ties to the trailer, I have a loop of bailing twine in between as an extra breakaway step just in case (I have it on the cross ties at the barn too). And I know that money is not free flowing in your world, and a breakaway is okay, but I always feel better about trailering with a full leather halter. I heard a story once of a horse who got their nylon noseband stuck in the brest bar of a trailer and couldn't get free, even though it has a breakaway. I know dover has a simple full leather halter for $20 and a padded one for $30 on sale. I am so glad that you are okay!!!! Scary stuff. I think I might make a blog post about some trailering safety.

Lori Skoog said...

I am so glad that you are both ok. To you and all your readers, I WOULD THINK TWICE ABOUT USING THE BUNGEE TIES. They are very dangerous...can stretch many feet,,,confusing to the horse.

Hopefully Maddie will be forgiving and get right back on the trailer. Before I sold my stock trailer, I always trailered loose if I had just one horse, and 99.9% of the time they looked out the back window. Better balance.

How about you? How is your back?

Tracey said...

You are so blessed fortunate to have come out unscathed! What set her off? New trailer or not, if she's been hauled without incident, something must have triggered in that little Maddy brain.

Sandy's had a couple of blow ups while tied this month, too, and we're not sure why. Thought it was Darling's teen attitude the first time, but he did it again the other day tied to the trailer. Good think Steve Holt! isn't easily upset or we'd have had two horses in panic mode!

jill said...

So glad everyone is ok! I trailer untied too and also in a breakaway or leather.
Scout used to walk in fine, but started backing up so you couldn't close the partition fast enough. Finally got smart and opened the trailer window and fed the lead thru it to someone outside on the ground. They could talk to him while another person closed the partition. Soon he was fine with just loading up. Oh and it helped that there was hay and treats set up for him get once in. Whatever works I say, as long as they stay calm and have a good experience. Maddie's a smart girl, she'll be fine with it again.
Good luck and heal quick.

jennybean79 said...

YIKES - those moments are so terrifying. It's amazing how quickly things can escalate out of control. I'm glad that you and Maddy are okay!!

Molly said...

Oh man! I hope your bruises are healing quickly and your adrenalin doesn't shoot up next time you trailer out. That is such a shame.

I've known people to trailer one loose horse very successfully.

I'm sorry you had that experience.

Drillrider said...

Trailering incidents can be very traumatic, especially when you are on the floor of the trailer with a 1000 pounds of scared horse flesh!

I'm so glad you weren't hurt, but sorry to hear Maddy was injured. Sounds like she will be fine though and I'm sure with a little patience will trailer well.

I don't use bungee ties, but do use the nylon trailer ties, with the panic snap on the opposite end (trailer end) from the halter. The last thing I want is to get too close to a panicked horse, but I could still release the tie if need be.

I always, always, always, untie the horse and clip on a lead rope prior to opening the back door of any horse trailer to unload. Can't tell from your story if the back door was open already or not (sounds like it was), but this simple rule will save you tons of grief in the future because I also learned these lessons the hard way, with horses freaking out and being scraped up!

Works the other way too. I never hook the horse up until the back door is securely in place either. If the horse freaks out, bolts out of the trailer and I have to reload, no problem, but that is a lot better than a horse freaking out that can't get out.

Callie said...

Yikes! I miss my good old fashioned stock trailer. Only had one dork whack himself in that, but otherwise had been pretty lucky without injury. Glad you're alright, very scary!

Original L said...

So glad you both came out with only bruises and scrapes. I always get nervous about trailering, I've heard so many stories. I bet that since Maddy has been trailered so many times before that she will be pretty easy to rehabilitate back to easy trailering - if it was one of her first rides that would be different, but as it is I would guess she'll probably be fine. If you are really nervous about it, though, you could have someone else load her the first few times... What a good girl not to bonk you at all with her hooves!

Lulu said...

Phew! I sure am glad you are ok!

Personally I don't use break-away halters or trailer ties with panic snaps when I trailer. I use a regular halter and lead rope, but I practice getting in and out many times before we actually to anywhere. I bet Maddy will be confident with some practice at home.

thecrazysheeplady said...

A friend of mine had to go out west and pick up that load of polo ponies that rolled (on the national news years ago). He said each pony (that lived) walked right into the next trailer and continued right on. Very forgiving. Don't let your thinking she might have an issue cause an issue. Glad you are all safe.

Drillrider said...

Lulu: Better keep a knife always handy though to cut the lead rope if necessary. Just a couple of months ago we were getting ready for a trail ride and the horse tied to the trailer next to us went down. The horse's owner had a knife handy, but would never have been able to release the horse otherwise.

thecrazysheeplady: Very true! Had a horse that would always spook at one end of the arena and realized I was "tensing" up just as I rode past it in anticipation of the upcoming spook.

jane augenstein said...

Scary, scary stuff! So glad you aren't hurt any worse than a few scrapes or bruises! How terrifying to be on the floor with a panicked horse!
When I have taken Gilly places we have used the blocker tie ring inside and when he is tied outside the trailer.
Hope Maddie will be trailer and calm soon.
~Jane and Gilly~

Kate said...

That is scary - I can't tell for sure from your post, but did you open the divider before you undid the tie? What I do is to attach the lead rope through the trailer window, throw it over the horse's neck, undo the trailer tie and then walk around the back to undo the divider - that way if the horse starts moving they don't hit the tie and panic. Same drill when loading - throw the lead rope (still attached to the horse) out of the trailer window, close the divider and then go around the front, attach the trailer tie and then unsnap the lead. No chances for the horse to pull back. Your horse didn't do anything bad or unexpected - a lot of horses will do this and it's best to eliminate the cause. I once had a horse break a tie, hit its head on the ceiling and fall backwards out of the trailer due to something similar - that's how I learned my lesson.

Hope you and your horse recover quickly!

Grey Horse Matters said...

Glad to hear neither one of you were seriously hurt. I'm sure in future trailering adventures you and Maddy will be just fine. She's really a sweetheart and cares about you and I'm sure getting her confidence back won't be much of an issue.

allhorsestuff said...

Oh NO! I am sooo sorry Jules!

I read everyone's words and maybe even a blocker would not be good if she is backing too quickly..I had that one -go weirdo on me- and not let the "lash" of the halter through it to release...it would be just about to the trailer door, then stop.!NOT good.
A very small diameter rope w/ no lash would work in a normal sized blocker(not the little ones they sell now).

I like the idea of putting the rope on, through the window and uncliping the tie, if any. I would probably go in with a training stick, to keep her from running you over if she decided to leave fast though, as you opened the divider!
Oh and-I take it you got a truck!
Good times will be ahead friend... You'll get through and over this.

My new horsey friend through- CTRF- points to the trailer, her horses load. she does not tie them. Then she opens the door, they wait..and then she walks them off. I wanna do that too! she also lives with them, and practices all the time.

Well, shoot Jules. I am so very thankful that you did NOT get injured and Maddy's is minimal too..she will trust again, I know. We both have been on the ground and under hooves with our mares this summer..and they somehow spared us!
Kac

allhorsestuff said...

oops..the blocker would not let the lash of the-ROPE end- out!

Pony Girl said...

I'm glad everyone is okay!! Thanks for the insight (good comments too) definitely makes me rethink and practice good safety measures when trailering, since we do it a lot! I hate going into that box with my horse, whether to tie him in or lead him out. I feel very claustrophobic. Luckily he is good, but, you never know....

HBFG said...

Wow, what an "adventure"! Glad you didn't end up hurt badly, or Maddy for that matter...
You know, we always untie the horse BEFORE we open the doors... we reach through the windows (or -as in european two-horse trailers - you open the little door in front and get in..)
and open the breakaway snap, attach a leadrope tot the horse, swing it around it's neck, then we go back and open the door, so the horse can come out (or a second person is in the back and opens up).

That way you'll never get into a situation like that.
Of course it's clever to practice this method first at home so the horse learns to wait for you before you open the door and doesn't get pushy on you...
Works perfect and is very safe!

:))

photogchic said...

Thanks for all the well wishes and suggestions. It is so great to have such a supportive and understanding horse community around me. I have a blocker ring already in place. In the future I will always unclip her first and toss the rope over her neck before opening. I just had to learn the hard way. I never in a million years thought she would pull back and then escalate to that kind of panic.

Esther Garvi said...

Oh Julie, I'm so glad you and Maddie are alright! I've never had to trailer a horse before. Security really is something to remind ourselves of, for even when everything seems to be going fine, there is always the "if", and horses have so much power... Glad you are both alright!!

Sending big hugs from Sweden,
Esther

Drillrider said...

Hey Julie! Dana and I came by in the hopes that you happened to be at the barn. Sorry we missed you. Peeked in at Maddie and appears she is healing up great. LOVED the new barn and the owner was very pleasant and friendly to talk to.

sophie said...

Sorry to hear about your accident. I'm glad you and your horse are recovering. Your horse's gash looks pretty bad. Thanks for sharing your experience. I hope it helps others to avoid similar experiences..

Horseypants said...

Your story is frightening but I think your horse will be ok too, especially if she got back in the trailer. I had also assumed that "panic snaps" release when the horse pulls back. No wonder people use the baling twine on the other end...why would you want to get CLOSER to your panicked horse? Let us know how the trailering goes from here.

smellshorsey said...

So very scary. You could have been killed! Glad you are both on the mend.